The internets/blog world is going a bit nutty lately after one of the more popular bloggers has started doing heavy workouts really soon after giving birth. It is like another Mommy-Wars, but on when to start working out again.
Obviously, everyone can choose when they can begin working out again, with consultation with their doctors. There is nothing wrong with starting light to moderate exercise as soon as you feel up to it, actually it is encouraged. You can go for walks, do modified crunches, push-ups – light to moderate activity. If a couple of weeks go by and you are feeling fine, then perhaps a light run is in order (after checking with your doctor). Many elites do start training again fairly soon – but the key point is that they are elite athletes who not only train way harder than most of us ever will and are usually supported by sports doctors, coaches and other health professionals. That, and do you notice that there is usually an athlete baby-boom right after the Olympics?
After I gave birth to Max, I did not run again until he was 3 months old. Part of the reason was that it was winter, but also I was tired, sleep-deprived and sore. Max was not allowed to sleep through the night until he was three months old, as per doctors instructions (see this post), so sleep was a tad bit more important to me at that point. I also had complications with my stitches. I will spare you the visual, but I was not allowed to do anything until 6 weeks had past. I remember going to my OB and complaining that my butt was sore. My joints were so out of whack, that sitting for long periods of time hurt. He said this “listen – it took 40 weeks for your body to make that baby, it is going to take some time to get it back”. I did not post before/after baby shots or discuss my weight on this blog – nor will I ever. Delivering a baby is no easy feat. Not only does it stretch your skin, pregnancy also has an affect on your muscles and your joints. For anyone that has given birth before, you know that the first time you go pee feels very weird. Not because of tearing/stitches (well, maybe a bit), but because your pelvic floor muscles are so weak.
Runners/athletes talk all the time about injury prevention and what not to do when training to avoid things like shin splints, stress fractures and other common athletic injuries. We schedule taper weeks and recovery weeks – just for running a race. Yes – running a race is hard – but it is absolutely nothing like delivering a baby. One of the most popular piece of advice that I have seen for training is not to go out too hard or run too far when you first start. Speed work isn’t introduced until the later stages of training to avoid injury (where do you think my injury came from). In our track and field practice plans (which are planned months if not a year in advance) – we go through stages, building up the workouts, then tapering, then starting over again from the beginning. Most coaches do not even introduce weight training at track until grade 11/12. So why the rush to get back to exercising only a couple weeks after giving birth? As I mentioned on twitter, I just do not get it.
The biggest problem that I’ve seen over some of these posts/instagram pictures is that people may take this as something normal to do after pregnancy. I’ve seen comments like “I want to be just like you”, “you are so inspirational” as well as some not-so-nice comment fighting. Some women may be recovered enough to resume these activities, most of us however, will probably not be. You can really do some harm if you go out too hard, too soon, JUST like training for a marathon! I really hope that expectant and new mothers are not thinking that it is average to start squatting with weights right away and limiting food intake. I also saw other comments that new Moms were feeling like they were not putting enough effort in working out because they were struggling with a newborn and not exercising as much.
Trust me – you will be just fine. Whether you start again at 6 weeks or at 6 months
My first run back from pregnancy was on March 12, 2012. I ran over 8:00/km. I did not see an average pace under 6:00/km until May. If I wasn’t concentrating on Marathon training, I could probably say that I would go under 25:00 in the 5K this year.
I am in better shape today than I was before pregnancy – and from some conversations on twitter, I am not the only one who waited a bit and is now rocking at running.
You will be ok, you will be fit again – just do not feel compelled to get it all done right away. Make sure to eat enough, hydrate often and most of all – get enough sleep!
I tried making this post not judgemental. Everyone is different, and everyone has different experiences. I am more concerned that women will find this normal and cause an injury or that Moms are feeling down that they are just not at that point yet. Don’t worry and as always (for the last time) – discuss with your doctor first. If you have gotten back into physical fitness and are feeling great – keep at it! Just be mindful to avoid injury/complications.
Have a great rest of the weekend! 🙂