Kelsey’s Postpartum Recovery

This is one of the hardest blogs I have ever had to write but I think it is important to share our experiences as women. Everyone’s experience is unique; I am so honored and thankful to moms that share their stories with me. I have learned that even if a mom seems to have it all together she likely still has her own struggles.

Some new mothers have trouble connecting with their baby, nursing, postpartum depression, loss of self-identity, or even recovery (both mentally and physically) from labour. I write this blog with active women in mind as a way to share my experience and let you know that you are not alone.

Just as I shared my experience through pregnancy, I thought I would share my postpartum experience as well. I knew there would be some big changes to my life and body, but I don’t know if I could have ever truly anticipate how much my life would change.


Pre-Pregnancy and During Pregnancy

Weight and Body composition: I fluctuated between 137-140lbs, depending on the training cycle I was in, and maintained 17.5-18.5% body fat. My weight the day I went into labour was 178lbs, and the two weeks after delivery it dropped to 159lbs. At 6 weeks post-partum I was 158lbs with 30% body fat.

Training Schedule Pre Pregnancy: I trained with a coach 5 to 6 days per week for 90 to 120 minutes. In the spring and summer months I walked to work once or twice a week which is 12km round trip and biked once or twice as well. I tried to be as active as possible because I spent most of my day sitting at work. My goal was to hit at least 7000 steps each day not including training, then 20,000+ steps at least two or three times per week.

Training during Pregnancy: After I found out I was pregnant I still trained 5 times per week. I made changes as recommended by my physiotherapist and doctor. I reduced the intensity of my workouts to a more comfortable level. I also reduced to only one-way walks to work until winter started. I added in yoga and Pilates later on in my pregnancy, and I still trained the 5 days I was overdue!


The First Few Weeks

First Month: I felt motherhood to be quite natural, and with lots of support I grew in confidence every day. I was fortunate to receive help from my wonderful nurses and my midwife breastfeeding was going well. I realized that my placenta pills actually made me feel more emotional. I stopped taking them and by the end of the month I was able to take daily walks and I felt even more like my old self.

Throughout my pregnancy many people told me that I would bounce back quickly because I was so active… And I believed them! At about 4 weeks I was starting feel pretty good and looking forward to getting back to the gym. I thought with all my work during my pregnancy I might be able to start working out again. I thought after six weeks I might even be able to start CrossFit again. Boy was I wrong!

At four weeks I found out I had diastasis recti, a separation of the ab muscles, and potentially an organ prolapse (we later found out I did have a bladder prolapse). After chatting with a physio I learned that the body is more unstable after delivery then during your pregnancy, and it can take a long time to heal. She also mentioned that with pregnancy your hamstring and oblique muscles can atrophy. She gave me some exercises to help with healing and I was hopeful that I would be able to reattach my abdominals. For most people, four to six weeks without exercise doesn’t seem like a big deal but for me it was hard to not be in an environment I have grown to love.


My Postpartum Road to Recovery

Starting Pilates at six weeks was a wakeup call. It felt like I wasn’t connected to my body from the chest down and I started to realize just how unstable my pelvis was. I was thankful for such a knowledgeable instructor to help my recovery process. I started with Pilates Reformer work twice a week and aimed to walk 7000 steps per day. I also started a 12-week, rehab program for mothers recommended to me by my physiotherapist.

At my seven week checkup I learned that my abdominals had started moving closer, but I still needed more time to heal. So that meant no impact movements (running, box jumps, double unders, Olympic lifting etc.) or forward flection of the spine (rowing, sit ups, toes to bars), and no excessive strain on the core (pull ups, dips, muscle ups, planks, compound movements, heavy weights). That didn’t leave a lot that I could do. After this appointment my self-confidence took a huge hit.

To deal with it, I tried to focus on the positives: I could walk, I could do Pilates, and I could hang out at the gym and do mobility. I surrounded myself with people I loved to remind me why I wanted to take the time to heal properly and I talked about it when I felt I needed to.

Two months following my delivery I remember not being able to recognize my body in the mirror. I knew it would change but I hoped that I would bounce back like everyone said I would. I was surprised at the extra fat my body needed to support my growing baby. It was such a strange feeling to not love the body I looked at. After all, it had grown and supported my beautiful baby girl! It has never been about getting my body back it’s about learning to love this new body just as much.


Loving My Body Again

I used some of the strategies I’ve shared with my clients: setting small goals, writing down one thing each day that I was proud of myself for doing, and repeating a mantra anytime I thought negative thoughts about myself. I spent a lot of my day moving, doing my rehab exercises with Emma at my side, and even stretching on the floor while Emma had tummy time. I also checked in with Loreen regarding my diet, to make sure I was accountable. At two months my husband recommended that I start coaching again. Boy, did it ever make a difference to learn I was not starting at square one!

By three months I had closed up my diastasis recti and was able to start lifting weights again. I still had a bladder prolapse, but it was improving. I still had to steer clear of impact exercises but I was starting to feel stronger. One of the incredible mothers I trained with asked me to be her partner at a competition the following month. Although I was terrified, she said that it would give me something to train for and she was so right!

At four months I received permission to try impact exercises as long as I was diligent with my physio exercise. I also competed in my first CrossFit competition! While my strength was still not 100% I surprised myself and we did better than I ever imagined. I was stronger than I was giving myself credit for. My biggest struggle during the competition was balancing being a mom with training. I’m thankful to the CrossFit community for all the help and words of encouragement. This was a huge turning point for me, and one I am thankful I did.

Month five was a blur as we packed for our family’s move to BC to start the next chapter of our lives. I had to change my training as Emma was becoming more mobile; I have been enjoying Strollercize/HITT classes at the rec centre and a basic strength program, working towards my pre-pregnancy numbers.


Six Months and Beyond!

By month six I was down to 149 lbs and 27% body fat. Women typically hang on to 10 lbs while nursing but I will keep putting in the work and see how it goes.

At eight months I was 143 lbs and 25% body fat. I’m finally starting to feel stronger in my workouts, getting closer to my pre pregnancy strength numbers (able to hit 70-80%).

I know there are definitely women who lose the weight faster and some who lose it slower, but I wanted to share my progress with you and some of the struggles I went through. It has been an amazing journey full of ups and downs. Surround yourself with people who care about you and who share in your experiences. You can learn to love your body and marvel in the strength it has for growing and supporting a life.