You’ve probably heard that working out during your pregnancy helps with a quicker postpartum recovery.
It is true that it helps with a quicker recovery!
BUT what I feel most women hear when they read this statement is that they’ll get back to their normal workouts quicker postpartum.
And unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
The Postpartum Myth:
The fitter you were before and during pregnancy, the quicker you’ll get back to your normal fitness level postpartum.
Everyone starts back at ground 0 after having a baby. The fitter you were, the longer it’ll take for you to reach that same peak.
Here’s an analogy.
Let’s say that “fitness level” is a mountain, and you were at the very peak before having a baby.
You worked your ass off for months, most likely years, to get to the to that peak too.
After you have your baby, you don’t get to magically start half way up the mountain just because you were at the top beforehand.
EVERYONE gets knocked back to ground level.
Which means everyone has to rebuild a solid foundation and follow the same steps / progressions everyone else has to, regardless of where they were before.
Postpartum doesn’t discriminate.
What does this mean for the more advanced gym-goer?
It means it’s going to take longer for you to get back up to the top, or hit your “normal,” while others who had a lower fitness level than you will reach their normal quicker.
Why? Picture this.
Someone who normally worked out for 30 min 3x/week with body weight movements (lets call this the middle of the mountain) will reach their normal at same time you’re able to do 30 min body weight workouts 3x/week.
But that’s not your normal.
Your normal is 1 hour workouts, 4-6x/week with advanced movements, heavy weights and high intensity.
Time to keep climbing that mountain.
While that woman is now back to her normal in the gym, you will still be working for months and months to build back the movement difficulty, volume, weights, etc. that make you feel like YOU in the gym.
If your fitness took a long time to build to before you had a baby, it’ll take you a long time to build to after you had a baby too.
Do your pre-baby and pregnancy workouts even matter then?
All this doesn’t mean that your pre-baby and pregnancy workouts don’t matter!
In fact, even though it’ll take you longer to reach your normal fitness level, it’s still true that the fitter you are before postpartum, you’re more likely you are to have a better recovery!
Let me explain.
First, working out before, and during, your pregnancy helps:
- reduce pain as your belly grows
- provide a whole host of mental, hormonal and emotional benefits
- maintain muscle strength for every day tasks
- improve posture and alignment (especially important for your core & pelvic floor)
- decrease labor and pushing times, on average
All this has shown to translate to a better postpartum experience and recovery overall.
But, I’d argue that two other non-physical benefits are even MORE crucial for your postpartum recovery. Your pre-baby and pregnancy workouts:
- helps form the habit around exercise
- creates muscle memory and a knowledge of your own body. In other words, you know the difference between “this feels right” vs. “this feels off”
THIS is why the advanced gym-goer may still recover stronger, and get their body function and gym foundation back quicker!
When you know your body when it’s normal AND when your workouts are just part of what you do, postpartum recovery becomes much smoother.
The good news:
What I learned through my own postpartum journey is that building back to your peak through the struggles of postpartum (and early motherhood) is WAY more rewarding than the first time around.
It took me about a year to get back to my normal intensity and weights.
It feels SO good to feel like yourself again.
You feel SO proud of yourself knowing all you went through.
There’s simply no feeling like it.
Except, maybe becoming and growing as a mother, of course.
So, if you’re looking for a structured plan to help you hit that peak again, subscribe to my postpartum recovery and strengthening program, FIGR:Postpartum, today!
I got you,
[…] Similar to checkpoint 5, it could take you months, or years, to build back every single movement to the same intensity you had before. For me personally, it took about a year to do everything I used to be able to do with the same comfort. When you get back to your normal also depends on your prior fitness level (I discuss this is a full blog topic here)! […]