When I got pregnant, I was a 24-year-old fitness junky. I was spending at least 4-7 hours per week doing Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, the rowing machine, ballet class, and whatever other activities kept me moving. Like most new moms, I wondered how my fitness routine would change while I was pregnant and how much I would be able to handle after baby was born.
The answer to these questions is different for everyone. How active you are during pregnancy will depend on a lot of factors including how fit you were before you got pregnant, how much weight you gain, if you have bad morning sickness, and how much time you spend staying in shape.
Keeping up regular exercise habits while you are pregnant is important for labor and recovery. The better shape you are in when you have the baby, the easier it will be to get back in shape after you deliver. Just be prepared to take your time and see how things go. Making sure that you and baby are healthy every step of the way is priority number one.
Here is my personal fitness timeline during and after pregnancy.
I really focused on being in my best shape ever before I got pregnant. I knew that this would make it easier to stay healthy during and after pregnancy. I focused on building lean, strong muscles especially in my core. I was felt very fit and strong.
3/10/16 – The end of my first trimester
Compared to other moms that I know, my first trimester wasn’t that rough, but fatigue hit me hard
and I let my fitness habits slip big time. I felt like I gained a lot of weight and was bloated all the time. I did keep up with my stretching and the relaxin in my system was making me more flexible than I had ever been. The only thing that I could bring myself to go to the gym for was a relaxing yoga session or a very short stint on the step machine before stretching.
5/5/16 – The middle of my second trimester
The second trimester energy was a great change! I still felt heavy and moving kept getting harder and harder. I did get back into the habit of doing pilates, stretching, or yoga for 20-30 minutes every morning. I tried to keep moving as much as possible, but I was not interested in anything remotely close to cardio. I forced myself to walk on the treadmill on an incline at the gym.
18 weeks was the magic bump week for me. I went to work on Monday and was greeted with comments like “wow, you actually are pregnant” all day. Luckily for the commenters, I loved my bump. Haha.
6/9/16 – The end of the second trimester
This was probably my favorite part of pregnancy. I was still feeling strong and capable. My fitness routine really focused on stretching and yoga, so I was flexible and relaxed. I made sure to plank everyday because it was really the only core exercise that I could comfortably do. Well, that and bird-dogs. So many bird-dogs.
7/10/16 – The middle of the third trimester
My favorite yoga class at the gym is usually a very active vinyasa-flow style class. This was the day
that I decided it was too much for me. I was having to modify too many poses, and I decided that youtube prenatal yoga was better for the duration of my pregnancy. I was trying to keep as active as possible during the day – walking whenever I could and taking extra trips up and down the stairs. This is also festival season in Wisconsin, so I got plenty of activity in by going to Summerfest, State Fair, and Irishfest. Those were rough days!
9/15/16 – Day before Due Date
As the end got closer, I was more than ready for baby to come. I spent my days sitting on a yoga ball, crawling around scrubbing baseboards and stairs, and stretching. I tried to stay active because sitting still was just uncomfortable. I was pretty miserable – I felt heavy, uncomfortable, and impatient.
9/18/16 – 2 days postpartum
Weight: I did not weight myself for a while after birth because my
focus was on just making sure that Peanut was healthy and taken care of. I knew that I would be naturally shrinking for a while and decided to not think about it.
When we first came home from the hospital, I was feeling surprisingly well. I was obviously sore and swollen from birthing injuries, and I had a large, soft tummy. I felt so much more comfortable than I had in the last few weeks of pregnancy and a combination of the physical relief and the excitement of bringing our little dude home had me feeling ready to take on the challenges of being a new parent.
9/30/16 – 2 weeks postpartum
After the first week, things got much harder. The lack of sleep combined with the physical hardships of breastfeeding and recovery had me feeling sore and exhausted 24/7. Getting back into shape was much less of a concern than just being able to sit and stand without being in pain.
11/9/16 – 8 weeks postpartum
One day when my husband was home from work I decided that it was time to start going to yoga again. I made it through a whole class and felt great afterwards. I thought this was the start of getting back into a fitness routine. I had worked my way up to being able to do 20 push-ups in a row everyday, and I was ready to get back to beastmode. The next day I woke up more exhausted than ever, and decided that I needed more time.
11/27/16 – 10 weeks postpartum, the day before returning to work
This was the day that I added Peanut to our gym membership. I immediately wished that I had done it sooner. It cost $15/month for 2 hours per day of childcare. Being able to drop baby off, workout, and then take my time to shower and get ready for the day was the best thing that happened to my mental health since Peanut was born. He loves hanging out in a bouncy seat at the childcare center and I love not having to worry about him while I enjoy my work out.
As time went on, everyone kept telling me how skinny I was, and that I didn’t look like I just had a baby. I was smaller and lighter than I was before I got pregnant, but I had no muscle. It didn’t matter how I looked, I definitely felt like I just had a baby. All of the time that I spent sitting on the couch during my maternity leave left my muscles tight and sore. Getting moving as I went back to work helped, but I will have to keep working on my flexibility.
3/18/17 – 6 months postpartum
This weekend I finally went to my first core class after baby. This used to be a staple of my week, but my core strength has been the hardest thing to get back since I gave birth. (no surprise there!) I was a little sore and tired, but it felt great to be able to get through the whole class. I am now back to my regular half hour pilates sessions in the morning, and I finally don’t feel like I just had a baby anymore.
Throughout the whole process of getting back to “normal” after having my son, I have tried to feel good about my body. I am not shaped quite the way that it was before, and I have had to work hard to get back to the levels of strength and activity that I used to have. The strength that I have now feels entirely different than the strength that I had a year and a half ago.
In the end, I remember that my body accomplished something much more impressive than beasting through a kickboxing class – I made a beautiful, healthy baby. If I can do that, I can do anything.
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