Fitness During Pregnancy and Fitness After Baby
Fitness During Pregnancy and Fitness After Baby
I am so thankful for fitness, mom friends with zero fitness and the ability to find my people. This was important to me with our second child after an 8-year gap between the two of them.
P.S. on the picture -- yes, I now know that those straps needed adjustment. It's the first thing I see now. But then? Didn't notice. And somehow, we all survived.
First, my ode to fitness:
I was running with my one-month old baby in his cushy Quinny stroller, when another runner raced up to catch me.
Her big question, “How do you look so good, so soon after having a baby?”
"Truth? I adopted."
Your body goes through the wringer in order prepare for, house and subsequently have a baby. It takes 40 weeks, yet sometimes we don’t give ourselves the grace of 40 weeks postpartum. And in other cases, we give ourselves much longer, dependent on our physical and mental fitness.
Have you ever thought; “I’m not fit enough for THAT group,” or conversely, “I’m TOO fit for that group. They just do beginner challenges”?
In my case, I found with Fit4Mom, there were no opportunities for excuses. There is a pace and a place for everyone. And, no room for judgment.
I sat down with the co-owners of Fit4Mom, Thousand Oaks, Annie Davidson, and Rachael Weitz, to talk about some of the common questions they receive during and after pregnancy. As well as some other insights they’ve garnered as they support women in their new roles of motherhood.
The big questions
When considering getting back to working out after a pregnancy, Annie and Rachael describe two questions that come up over and over.
They are seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum.
- How soon can I come back after I have my baby?
- Or, I haven’t been working out. I didn’t work out during my pregnancy. Can I do this?
“We really emphasize, let your body heal first. You’re really looking at 6 – 8 weeks postpartum for letting new mommies into the group and of course being cleared by their physician.” says Rachael Weitz, co-founder, Fit4MOM Thousand Oaks
Modification is everything. There are varying degrees of physical ability whether you’re freshly postpartum or have been working out for months. It is important to have this self awareness and join others with this same mantra.
Thus, if you haven’t been working out and didn’t work out during your pregnancy, you will get stronger and you will not be judged.
“For some people it is all about the workout. They come here and work hard for an hour and don’t say a word until after. Others are here for the social aspect. Doing a couple of bicep curls and chatting up their baby or mom nearby.” Admittedly, I could have been perceived as a cheater myself, given I skipped the whole labor and delivery process the second time around. But I somehow straddled the line, chatting up the babies and then working out hard. Remember? I had the best arms ever then!
Truthfully, it’s really that comfort that both the hard-hitting workout mom and the socially charged mom are interested in. The village, the connection, and the adult interaction.
But, sometimes just getting out of the house is difficult. Emotionally.
New moms, you know that it can be comforting being in isolation at home with your newborn, but at the same time, depressing and lonely. There seems to be some trends in isolation with parents of newborns.
Is it because of our online and social media lives? Maybe.
Is isolation because of our fear of illness and germs? Maybe.
Hormonal shifts? A need to feel in control? A fear? A delusion? True anxiety? It’s just easier? Perhaps any number of the above. But here is what I do know. Being inside, and sedentary for too long can put me in a funk. Endorphins are released with exercise, movement and human connection.
It’s easier to hunker in and not step outside of your box. Anything new is challenging. It’s difficult. So it’s easy to keep where you’re comfortable. Which is why if you can build some fitness before you deliver your baby or join a group like Fit4Mom or something similar in your community, the inherent emotional support may fend off those emotional downturns before you’ve even had a chance to label what you’re going through.
When you have a newborn, you might have a different set of thoughts, emotions, physical and spiritual needs than you did before you started your journey to parenthood.
You have a place. Find a group. One that wants to support you. A tribe that is here for you. And when you find them, be thankful. They’re a life saver.
A Semblance of Order
In new parenting moments, it can feel like there is no order to your life. But if you know you are meeting a friend or a group at a set time, that adds an order to your life. You just feel better. If it’s an exercise group, you don’t even have to shower first. We all know that is a bonus.
“You don’t have order with a newborn, even if you want to. Often it can feel like chaos. But, if you can say, ‘ok, from 9:30 – 10:30, I’m doing this group. I might have to stop to nurse. I might have to make modifications. I might have to stop to change diapers. But, that’s ok. I’m doing this and I’m going to be so happy I did,’” says Annie from Fit4Mom. I couldn’t have said it better. Some days I stayed until noon just to enjoy being outside with my baby.
Community, fresh air and exercise. It can help.
Everything feels better.
You’re not isolated and alone.
“I can’t say enough about coming out of the darkness. People don’t talk about it until after, but it’s a real emotion at times for new parents. This helps. We have testimonials.”
I could be one of them. As a part of our adoption, I didn’t have the postpartum blues or depression. I didn’t have the postpartum body second time around. But I did have a lot of struggles, as many adoptive parents do. The courts, dealing with open adoption, closed adoption, learning to bond, our family life changing. Let me be the first to say, I got by on a little help from my friends. The early morning runs with my friends, and the Fit4Mom mornings. Only focusing on our health and togetherness for an hour was just what I needed.
Fitness During Pregnancy
“We have moms on both their first or second time around. They have their 2-year-old in the stroller and they’re expecting,” says Rachael.
Modifications for pregnancy are not only common but becoming a part of the fabric of the group. “One of our newest instructors is pregnant.”
“We really love it when a first-time mom joins us. You know, we are all about honesty. Child birth sucks, and the recouping is tough, but you can handle this, and we are here for you,” reassures Annie.
There’s magic in that support, connection and understanding of those who’ve been there.
“I wish I had this the first time around,” Rachael reminisces. “When you go through something that you think no one else has been through, and then realize you are not alone. It’s so nice to have that even before anything happens. Vital when you’re going through those ‘I thought it was only me’ moments.”
Exercise is so vital. In fact, child birth is easier if you stay in shape during your pregnancy. As is getting in shape after. But not everyone can exercise in pregnancy, yet many want to get their body back after.
You don’t get it. I have not taken care of myself in this way. I’ve been totally inactive.
Annie’s response? “Love those people. They get so much out of it. Grow so much in strength, endurance and confidence. It’s cool to start slow, walk and grow as we go.”
But, I’m Afraid
Here’s the thing. Everyone is afraid. Not only new moms. Everyone. Even the strongest person in the group.
“Getting out of the house is not easy,” says Annie Davidson, co-owner.
But, I witnessed, “how old is your child? 4 months? Oh, let me introduce you to Julie, she has a 4-month-old too. You guys are really going to hit it off.”
Why is this comfort level and connection so important?
That mom to mom connection that is so important. As you go through pregnancy, and the first few weeks of being home, you may dream of the snuggly days at home. But then, it can become lonely. And then you consider getting out of the funk and remember that there is nothing worse than being new in a group of women who seem like they have known one another since birth. Put that fear aside.
“We got you. It was all our first time at some point, and we know how that feels. And the last thing we want this to feel like is a return to high school,” says Annie as we share a laugh. “We are very much about making those long-term mom friends.”
Second, my ode to a group for fitness after baby. Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides.
Running is a part of who I am. I used to think that I was a solo runner, but upon having my second child, or more specifically, adopting our second child, I joined Stroller Strides. Personally, it was partially for fitness, but mostly I think, because I thought since I would be the older mom this time around, I needed to expand my mom tribe to others with new babies. I also loved the idea of being with my baby while doing something great for myself.
And, guess what? It was great. As a cardio junkie, it was nice to get strength training in, too, while loving on my little guy.
For me personally, joining a group with other moms and babies allowed for:
- Time with our newborn
- Feeling great
- Admitting truths to other moms (aka therapy)
- The best arms I’ve ever had
Thank you to Fit4Mom, Stroller Strides, and my running friends as I traversed my days with a newborn. And now, several years later, I still have friends from this group and have become quite active in another running group, CVTR. My wish for you is that you all have the confidence in yourself to raise your hand and join in with a group of like-minded individuals. New moms wanting to raise each other up.
Sarah is a birth mom, adoptive mom, wife, working mom, cardio-junkie, runner, outdoor lover and optimist. She is the founder of Hummingbird Infant and shares her story here as a testament to all types of parents, doing the best they can. Sign up for our free confidence-boosting weekly Baby Buzz email for insights to help you in your parenting journey.