Hi! I'm Jessica - stay at home mom and former marathoner turned pelvic floor and body nut. I spend my days working out, helping gals in the Facebook group and chasing after my 2 year old while recovering from having and nursing my 3 week old.
I found Sarah when I was 4 months postpartum with my first child. I was a runner before pregnancy and eager to get back into running again. Alas, running was probably not the best idea for me to do so early postpartum, my hips and core were very weak and I suddenly started leaking a ton. I stopped running and thought it would get better, but it only got progressively worse as I did what the almighty Google told me to do - kegels.
That's when I found Sarah and started her Pelvic Floor Perfect Program. I quickly realized that I was going to need all of the programs she had to offer. Not only was I leaking, but my hip flexors hurt, my back hurt and my body felt like it was falling apart.
Working through Sarah’s programs exposed all my cheats that I had gotten away with pre baby. Before my first pregnancy all I did was cardio, pumping out 4 marathons by the time I turned 22. I suffered from IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis and my scapula looked like huge bat wings on my back. I learned that I had no idea how to engage my core properly, my arches were incredibly weak...heck I didn't even know how to do a pushup correctly! I cringe now looking at the only video evidence I have of those pushups.
Basically, I had to relearn everything I thought I knew from the ground up. When babies learn to walk they think nothing of falling down and getting up again, it never phases them for long. Relearning movement patterns as an adult, however, was an incredibly humbling and hard task.
Still, I stayed the course. My leaking improved quickly and I knew that Sarah’s programs had the answers to help me reach my goal of running again. For the next year and a half I worked through most of Sarah’s programs, voraciously reading all the content I could in her support group and using her advice (and other group members' advice) to troubleshoot and get stronger.
Within a year and a half my body had changed drastically.
I had found a new love on my way to getting strong enough to run. Lifting heavy things and getting stronger is addicting! I felt amazing - leaking was nonexistent, my hip flexors no longer hurt and I felt like I could do everything and more that mom life required of me.
My body not only changed but my mindset had as well. I still wanted to get back to running but I also had new and different goals...I did my first pullup, I started climbing at a bouldering gym, and I fell in love with deadlifting and squatting with a barbell.
Then…. I got pregnant - stay tuned for my next post on how my training and mindset evolved as my body morphed and changed with the growing baby inside me.
Jessica's Pregnancy Transformation
I approached the prospect of my second pregnancy with fear and trepidation. I had worked so hard postpartum to get my body back into a functional and strong state after my first pregnancy that I was extremely wary of getting pregnant again. The idea of having to start over from the ground up was daunting. I knew now from experience that the changes pregnancy makes to our bodies during those 9 months should not be taken lightly. Little did I know how fast my body would change this time.
Within days of seeing a positive pregnancy test, I was leaking again - hormones were surging through my body, not to mention my pelvic floor decided to get super tight. I kept going to the gym and climbed for a month or so, but it quickly felt like I suddenly had no strength or energy with my arms above my head - doing pull ups was also something I didn’t have the energy for, either. Plus my midwife didn’t really like the idea of risking a fall while bouldering.
As I anticipated the 9 months ahead of my body morphing and changing, I decided that instead of always looking at what I used to be - or what I could lift last week, or a month before - I would choose to celebrate whatever I could do today. Whether being grateful that I actually made it to the gym or that I was able to get in my breathing exercises, I told myself I would try to stay focused on the positives. I chose to still grieve the changes my body was making, but making the decision to not dwell on everything I couldn’t do set me up for a much better pregnancy mentally.
I continued to get to the gym 3 days a week and in the beginning I kept working on the level of MomFit I had reached. It didn’t take long before I had to start modifying.
Jumping and plyometric exercises went first. Then I had to move side planks up from the ground, then even pull ups with band assistance caused my abs to dome. I tried to approach each workout with kindness, asking “what do you want today, body?”
I was able to keep up just about everything I loved until about 20 weeks. It was then that my body started making more rapid changes!
I ended up making my own workout plan incorporating my favorite exercises from MomFit. My workouts involved the basics of pushing and pulling (i.e. TRX rows, cable rows, TRX Lat Pulls, single arm cable pulldown, modified push ups etc) and variations of squats and deadlifts. At about 28 weeks I found a small barbell at the gym that had grooves for my legs and fit perfectly under my belly, so I was able to continue to do hip thrusts without worrying about a heavy weight falling on me.
At 30 weeks, my body just ached. I could barely turn over in bed. At night it would yell at me when I would make my nightly trips to the bathroom.
That's when Anna gave me her “anti pregnancy” routine. Doing it daily, I could now turn over in bed, hip pain and back pain would go away, and my hinge point got dramatically better.
Anna’s Anti Pregnancy Routine
- Iliacus pullbacks - 2 to 3 each side
- Glute adductor squeezes - same as above
- Deadbugs with my feet on the wall, or off of a chair (from MomFit 3). - this depended on the day, often my upper abs would run the show
- Paraspinal release from the PRI untwisting - I regressed it to both legs vs single leg, really focusing on a posterior pelvic tilt and hamstring engagement - 2 to 4 breaths
- Hands and knees - 2 to 3 breaths
- Mid back rotations
- Standing glute squeezes from the knee injury section (though I wasn't as faithful with these, they were super helpful for keeping my glutes firing)
I kept going to the gym 3 times a week, but towards the end all I would get in was my anti pregnancy routine and serratus presses.
By the time I delivered at 38 weeks, I felt like I had done the best I could to continue to build strength, keep up with the basics of breathing, and do all I could to minimize the effects of pregnancy on my body.
Stay tuned for my labor story in 2 weeks!!
Jessica's Labor Story
My second labor was not what I expected at all, which is common with a lot of labors, they are often what we don’t expect.
At 35 weeks I was told that due to my clinically high blood pressure numbers, they were going to consider inducing me at 37 weeks. This threw me into a state of nervous anxiety. I so badly wanted to go into labor on my own. I worried that the baby would be too small at 37 weeks. What if labor would go super long because my body wasn’t ready? All the things.
They checked baby at 36 weeks, looking at weight and that he was moving ok, and ran preeclampsia labs on me. Everything looked normal! Unfortunately they still wanted to induce me, but they were ok with letting me go until 38 weeks.
As labor approached, I continued to work through Annatina’s labor videos as much as my anxiety would allow. I could only watch one or two at a time because the thought of labor would just set off my worried thoughts and feelings again. The main things I took away were to tell my body to open and let go - that my body could do it. I also worked on my inhales and exhales - thinking with each inhale and exhale, “pelvic floor, open, let go”. I would check in with my jaw a lot - massaging it and relaxing it whenever I could.
I also gave my doula a list of phrases that I wanted to be reminded of during labor.
October 4th, my husband and I went to the hospital for the induction. We arrived at 8 am. They put us in a room and then they started prepping me. Because I was being induced, I needed to be on a continual IV for the pitocin and fluids. It took them a full 30 min to get the IV in. The first time they tried, my vein rolled and blew - it was so painful and knocked me out emotionally. My body temp rose and I felt nauseous. Thankfully I had brought snacks with me, and was able to recover with some quick sugar and electrolytes. They were finally able to get the IV in successfully the 3rd time - but by that point I was wiped.
The midwife checked me - I was at about 3 cm dilated and baby was at -1 station. I wasn’t ready for contractions to start then, so I ended up lying down and resting for most of the morning. After lunch the midwife came in again and baby had moved up. She wanted me to start sitting up and opening up my pelvis. I still wasn’t ready for baby to come - emotionally I still was not ok with being induced. I so wanted to be able to labor at home like my last birth. By 2 pm, I told the midwife I was ready to get things moving - she broke my water, and I took a bath to relax and get rid of that icky water breaking feeling from between my legs. In the bath I was able to emotionally let go and be ok with baby coming soon. I faced my fears of baby coming at 38 weeks, and let them go. I got out of the bath ready to start walking and moving the contractions along. I fully believe in the body’s capability to stop and stall labor and I’m glad I took the time to do what my body felt like it needed.
My husband and I started walking the halls. My contractions started coming more frequently and were getting stronger - at about 4:30 pm we called our doula in. I wanted to time the doula’s arrival so she could take over while Brandon ran out to get dinner for himself before really active labor hit. Before the doula came, Brandon pulled up pictures of my first son’s first year of life and his baby pictures. This also helped me visualize baby in my womb and get excited for him coming. I think this also helped get contractions moving.
I had a hard time standing through contractions, so I ended up sitting on a birthing ball and I rested my upper body on the raised hospital bed during the contractions. Between contractions I did my best to be cheerful and relaxed, and the doula was a great distraction for talking about different random things.
As the contractions kept getting stronger, my doula would talk to me - telling me to soften and open….let all the tension go. During contractions I worked on keeping my throat open and moaned through the contractions, making sure I went deep and guttural with long Os, and Aaa sounds, keeping away from the long E sound which Annatina said would close the pelvic floor.
6pm - I ordered an omelet and hash browns. Unbelievably, I was able to eat all of that, and drink a small Sprite. I was ravenous.
7:15pm - I moved to the bed. My legs were tired from doing the contractions on the ball and I just wanted to rest. My doula put a peanut ball between my legs.
7:30pm - I asked for nitrous oxide. Contractions were getting super strong and I was scared that it would be a while. I was trying to come up with a plan to make sure I could get through the contractions as best as I could.
7:45pm - Nitrous oxide arrived. The technician explained how to use it, and I self administered the gas during contractions. It seemed to take the edge off, but it left me breathless after contractions were over. I was also worried that I couldn’t focus on relaxing and opening my pelvic floor. It took so much mental capacity to breathe into that thing. I just wanted to let it go and scream!
Doula told me that it was ok to cry. I didn’t want to cry- I was so worried that it would make me tighten up and tense. But I tried it, and it seemed to help.
I remember yelling and telling the midwife that I didn’t want this! I didn’t want to be induced. This is not what I wanted!!!!
8:30pm - Midwife checked me and I was 7cm dilated. She also suspected that baby was posterior faced. She wanted me to try to do some rebozo work which would require me to get on my hands and knees. Ugh! I didn’t want to move! I just wanted to lie there and have the pain be over!!!!
They convinced me to get on my knees, and I ended up resting my upper body on the back of the bed. They put a sheet under my belly - midwife stood on one side and doula stood on the other, they lifted my belly with the sheet and shimmied the sheet back and forth. After 10 min the midwife said “Ok, that's enough”.
8:45pm - I was so done and asked for an epidural - I was getting so weepy and scared and just so ready for the pains to be over!!!!
My nurse started the fluids I needed for the epidural and they put the order in.
9:00pm - They wanted me to get on the side of the bed. I was so mad at them, and did not want to get on the side of the bed! When my legs hit the floor, I leaned against Brandon, and yelled “Why! Why! Why!!!!”
Suddenly, I felt a huge gush, totally thought I peed my pants and I HAD to push! I let out a groan and pushed, just as the anesthesiologist came in, and promptly turned around as the midwife said “you aren’t needed anymore!”
Midwife yelled at me not to push!
They got me on my back upright to push. Doula held one leg, I don’t remember who held my right leg. Brandon was by my head. Midwife checked me and I was complete. I push - I don't want to push...I was so worried that it would take forever. My pushing phase during my first labor was 1.5 hours. I pushed once, the midwife firmly told me that I had to push now - I think I told her no...Brandon got in my face and said “Jess, you have to push NOW!”
I complied and pushed 2 more times and he was out. The ring of fire only lasted a couple seconds. Isaac, my little perfect baby, was put on my chest.
He was born at 9:06pm. He weighed 7 lbs 1 oz.
I had no tearing. Yay! He ended up latching around 9:45pm.
All my fears of a long induced labor had come to nothing. My son had come quickly and my body had done wonderful work.
Jessica's Recovery: Week 1 & 2
I am feeling much more put together this postpartum period. With my first son at day 7 I remember walking into the clinic for his circumcision and just felt broken and everything seemed out of place. Yesterday, after circumcising our second, I felt strong and stacked, and walking into Target to grab two things on our way home, I felt like myself. Weak but at the same time things felt like they were working. Glutes were even activating as I walked.
I spent the first four days postpartum mostly in bed. Day one and two were in bed at the hospital. The next day was scattered with coming down the stairs to get food and then back up to rest, nurse and watch America's Got Talent. All through I worked on gently breathing, making sure I let my upper abs go whenever they started gripping..
Day 4, I did some mid back rotations, child's pose and rolled a tennis ball on my back.
Day 5, my toddler came home so activity naturally increased. My husband is home for a full two weeks, so I've been able to avoid lifting the toddler except from a seated position. I'm very thankful that I worked up my bicep curls to 15lbs before delivery!
Day 7, I ended up doing more, my toddler has been having a rough transition back home, so I made it a point to get outside with him for fifteen minutes just the two of us.
Day 6 and 7, I also ran through most of the Stronger After Baby workout before bed. It felt amazing after.
Day 8, I woke up feeling my pelvic floor a little more, sitting to have a bowel movement I could tell it was swollen. Trying not to be anxious about it, I took some ibuprofen (I've weaned myself off without really thinking...by day 5 I stopped taking it every 6 hours and only took it whenever my body felt a little achy)
I then did the following things to help with the heaviness and swelling
-took a bath (I've just been taking showers this time around because I didn't have any tearing)
- did some upper body foam rolling and childs pose.
-spent more time in bed resting and tried to do less throughout the day
Lower abs have been activating on exhales! I've been making sure that I do a good hip hinge for light tasks like loading the dishwasher and picking up the baby. The front of my PF has been totally coming up when I stand up. The first couple days postpartum sneezes were hit or miss but today everything seemed to work even when I wasn't ready for it.
Played around with activating TAs today in standing and they totally came up and I felt muscle underneath!!! I was totally shocked!
Glutes are definitely on, but right hip flexor is definitely overworking. Not surprising as my left abs are normally weaker than my right. Planning to add in the PRI untwisting series once I'm strong enough.
I succumbed to my curiosity about the state of my pelvic floor in the shower today and was mostly pleasantly surprised. Uterus was lower than I was used to, but front and back was about the same that I remembered pre pregnancy. For about a week and a half postpartum I will take it!!! Of course, now I'm hyper aware of down there and feel everything.
I also checked to see if I had a separation in my linea alba (Aka diastasis) I couldn't find a separation below my belly button. Above the belly button there was about a 2 finger gap, with engagement it closed to a 1 finger gap with about a 1 knuckle sinking in. For one week postpartum I will take it! Especially since closing the diastasis later will only help put less pressure on my pelvic floor.
Got out to a Le Leche meeting. Not because I need the nursing support but more because it gave me an excuse to get out! I'm finding that I am able to carry the carseat and a laundry basket with good form. I was able to carry the carseat in and out of the car without repercussions. I'm thankful over and over again for keeping up my strength training as long as I did. My upper body is quite strong and I feel amazing.
It's been icky outside for the last couple days, and today the sun finally came out. While the baby was sleeping I made it a point to get outside with the toddler. I tried a full squat for a moment and it felt really good. I didn't feel confident enough to try to get a good back body breath yet but it felt so nice to be able to get into that position again. It was one of my favorite resting positions pre - pregnancy. Also walked around the block while the toddler rode his trike. Glutes were very on! Right glute med was a little cranky though. Going to have to ask the group about it.
I've been working on breathing throughout the day whenever I think about it. Standing, I can get some back body breathing. Sitting it is there also tried in hands and knees last night, haven't confirmed in a mirror yet though.
I ran through a set of iliacus pullbacks and glute adductor squeezes today. Not because anything was in pain but more so out of habit. I can't even explain why I had to do them. Abs lifted well! Adductors fired splendidly!!!! These two exercises were so hard for me last time! Thank you adductors for staying on board!!!
Emotionally, this postpartum has been going so much better. Baby has been feeding super well, I have almost no external stress and coming into motherhood a second time, I have so much more confidence. I also know that this is a season of constant tending to a baby and needing to rest. I now welcome the times I need to feed the baby so I have an excuse to sit down and take it easy. I worked so hard leading up to his birth prepping food and cleaning that I couldn't wait for the rest time a baby was going to bring. I know there will be a time when I can get back to the gym, I know I will be back to climbing and lifting again.
Prolapse is the same! And I've been able to keep up my great breathing habits!
I am able to lift things! Especially from sitting. Thank you biceps!
Jessica's Recovery: Weeks 3 & 4
I am feeling very much like myself physically. Every day I feel stronger and stronger. My lower back hurts less and less. I am mentally exhausted though. Momming a needy toddler and an infant is just downright exhausting. But I am working on trying to see the good things and give thanks whenever I can. I know that this is just a season. The hard times won’t last forever and it will get easier as my son feels more comfortable with the new comer, as he gets older and the infant sleeps longer than 3 hours at a time.
You can see the stress in my week 3 picture. My hinge point is more pronounced, though I think my forward head posture might be a tad better. I'm finding myself shallow breathing and upper ab clenching a ton just from stress. I had no idea that it would be the toddler not the infant that would be giving me such a huge run for my money!
I have tried 90 90 a couple of times this week but Dr. Sarah thought it was too soon. She was right! My pelvic floor got super tight afterward last time I tried. Felt amazing to use my abs though.
I am working on doing Stronger After Baby 1 (SAB) every day if I can, bits and pieces throughout the day. I am realizing how much stress is hindering my recovery though. I totally forget to breathe during the day...plus add on the fact that I can’t deep breath while standing because the ab strength is just not there. Yet I can still tell I am so much stronger this time around. I remember the very first time doing SAB after my first baby, I was sore afterward!
For the most part, my pelvic floor still feels amazing. I get a tampony feeling towards the end of the day - occasionally I wonder if I am going to leak, I also get a gaping feeling when I hip hinge. But the next morning everything feels so much better. This tells me that my pelvic floor is just getting worn out. Either way, it feels amazing to not have a huge baby on top of it anymore. On Monday, I am planning to schedule an appointment with a PFPT just for a check-up and get a baseline. I also started Annatina’s massage two nights ago. First day my abs felt more alive. Today I just didn’t even notice my PF which is awesome!
My chest is super sore. I worked on gently releasing it with my hands. Just the little bit I did today helped me breathe so much easier! I wish I could figure out an easier way to release it. I’m sure it is a combo of my huge nursing boobs and poor posture throughout the day.
Win - Even though being home with a toddler and a baby is super hard, I still feel like I can do it!
I’m going to be 4 weeks postpartum tomorrow. Oh goodness, how time flies. It feels like this new little baby has been in our little family forever. He has fit right in. He is nursing, sleeping and gaining weight like a champ.
Overall I am doing well emotionally. I have times especially when I am tired in the evenings or before my coffee in the mornings where I hit an all-time low. I’ve been taking care of littles straight for two years and there doesn’t seem like an end in sight with a newborn. It feels exhausting to have to start all over again with a child and also with my body. During those harder times, I remind myself that I am just tired and things will look better after I get some rest.
I also have to be really careful in the evenings to avoid thinking negative thoughts about my body. That is when my mind can carry me to some hard places. That has been the hardest thing this week. To accept and love my postpartum body with all its rolls and curves is hard. My hips seem ginormous! They look so much bigger than when I birthed my first son! And don't even get me started on my tummy. That's the hardest part of my body to love I think. I look at it and it's just big. All over I feel large. It also doesn’t help that throughout the day as my abs get more and more tired, it just gets bigger and bigger. I’m learning to try not to get down about it in the evenings when they are tired and stretched out because really, my abs are champs...they will heal and they will get there. It took 9 months to grow this baby. They need their own time for the fascia to heal. My whole body will find it's new normal. It will get there.
I’m excited to lose weight and get back my muscled body. I am ready to shed this outer layer of fat my body stored to nurse this infant. I’m also ready to try to start to eat veggies and healthy stuff again. The first couple of weeks all I craved was a ton of calories, especially cheesecake and ice cream. I think this is partly because my body needed so much energy just to recover from childbirth and kick start my milk supply. But I also know, in the back of my head that slow and steady wins the race. It's going to be the little things I do for my health that are going to heal my body and get it stronger from childbirth. The little choices to stop and breathe, to choose healthy options when I’m hungry. It's still hard not to be impatient though.
I tried a couple of sets of 90 90 last night and a set of bridges. They felt amazing! But this morning my abs are already just done. It's barely 10 in the morning and they have no tone, where normally in standing my lower abs will have a little bit. I remember this give and take from last time. And I’m ok with it, I’m just thankful that I’m not leaking! I can take a little low back soreness from my abs checking out so much better than incontinence.
That is my favorite part so far this postpartum, is leaking has been basically nonexistent. It was pretty much gone towards the beginning of this pregnancy, but I would still have times here and there where I would leak. Now birthing my second it feels like I got a restart! I have a day here or there where I will leak a tiny bit, but nowhere near where I was when I originally gave myself prolapse the first time. Out of curiosity, I’ve checked my pelvic floor three times now, standing in the shower. In my most recent check, my uterus was higher, the back of my pelvic floor seemed normal and the front was just a little lower than I remember before I got pregnant. I will take it. It means that I didn’t worsen what I already had this time around and that with the leaking already better, I’m better off than I was before. (Side note - I don’t recommend this before 6 weeks postpartum! Get your clear from your doctor first!) At 4 weeks, I am down to just a panty liner! My bleeding has slowed to just random staining and now I think it's mostly clear cervical fluid.
I also randomly checked my diastasis while on the floor with the toddler. Still no separation below the belly button. Above the belly button my rectus was hard and firm and I didn’t have to really dig to find it like the first time I checked a couple of days postpartum! It seemed also to have closed to about one finger width without engagement!
I’m almost done with my second week with being at home with an infant and a toddler (husband is back at work). It is still really hard to combat what the stress does to my body. Deep breathing is still so hard in standing and then having to deal with tantrums from a two-year-old and making sure I keep an infant alive. Oh goodness! Thankfully though, I have been able to have time when both the infant and toddler nap in the afternoons. Then I will spend some time on the foam roller and work on relaxing and deep breathing. This will get better as I get stronger...and I keep hoping as the toddler grows it will get easier. Maybe? Ha! Maybe I am kidding myself.
Week 4 Win
- My pelvic floor is healing so well this time! I'm so proud of my body!
Jessica's Recovery: Week 5 & 6
I don’t know whether to call this week, mental health week, or lose my ever loving mind week.
It felt rough whatever we decide to call it Was it the toddler that wouldn’t stop talking to me? Or the infant that still doesn’t want to sleep longer than 2 to 3 hours a night? Either way, there were up days and down days, and then there were days where I wondered if I would pass the postpartum depression test, and then still others where I would be relieved cuz I could laugh again. This is normal right?
I have to keep telling myself, “I’m only 5 weeks postpartum - I’m only 5 weeks postpartum”. It honestly feels like forever.
Healing wise, my bleeding has completely stopped and in the morning when I wake up, I feel normal. Until I look in the mirror or hip hinge and my low back yells at me, or I see the effects of the extra 30lbs that I have the baby to thank for. “I’m only 5 weeks postpartum, Only 5 weeks postpartum.” I remind myself. It took a full year to mostly get back with my first baby, and even then I didn’t start to fully gain strength until after I was done breastfeeding.
My days are filled with keeping the toddler happy, wishing he would stop talking and nursing the infant. I sprinkle in breathing into my sides throughout the day. When I fill the water filter, I stop and push one rib down and breath into the other. While waiting for things to cook in the microwave, I will get down and gently do a full squat making sure I don’t put a ton of pressure down on my pelvic floor. After putting clothes away in my toddler’s room, I will stretch my chest out on his door frame and then follow it up with some standing Y’s.
In the evenings, I can usually get an hour or so of quiet all to myself. I will clean up the main floor, and then run through foam rolling, or Stronger After Baby 2 and parts of 1. Usually by the time I get to the counter squats my body rebels. My goodness, counter squats are a lot harder than they used to be! I think it’s because my body knows how to bring all the right muscles now instead of just using my quads. I notice that this time my glutes fire all the way up and down and I have the awareness this time around to stop before my glutes and abs check out.
I can only do about 1 to 2 sets of everything before cheaters set in - I’m only 5 weeks postpartum, I’m only 5 weeks postpartum.
Towards the end of the day, I’ve noticed that I have been wondering if I am leaking a little bit. Usually, it is better in the morning, so I am inclined not to worry about it. I just keep working on relaxing everything whenever I can think about it and make sure I keep loosening things up and working on my breathing.
This week's win - abs and glutes firing!
After last week and realizing how stir crazy me and the toddler went having to be inside, I decided to sign up for a Y membership. I had canceled it right before the baby was born and planned to not get it again until after the winter. The child care at our Y is fantastic and I need a place where Peter can run around and get his energy out when it's too hard to get outside for a long time. Plus having an hour or so of quiet isn’t bad either. At the moment, I am planning to hang out in the lobby with the baby and read or walk the track around the gym wearing him. Having this membership means that I hopefully can get out occasionally in the evenings after the kids are in bed, and have someplace to go, even if it’s just to sit in the hot tub.
I finally weighed myself today. My weight has been a hard thing for me ever since I developed an eating disorder at 14. Thankfully over the years, I have learned the warning signs and am continuing to grow at looking at myself honestly, wanting to lose weight but at the same time not loathing my body either. Currently, I am 30lbs over where I was when I got pregnant. Yes, I was not happy with that number, but it’s not sending me into despair like it used to. I can look at my body most days and think, “it took 9 months for my body to get this way, it's going to take 9 months at least for it to adjust back” and “my body is still nourishing another human being, it is normal for it to still look different”. I am planning on working on being more mindful of what I eat. Not just stop and grab any sweet that sounds good - but aim towards getting 2 to 4 servings of veggies a day, drink lots of water and get ample amounts of protein. I know that while I’m still breastfeeding and not getting a full night of rest it's going to take longer for my body to heal and shed weight.
I got to the Y the next day. I am terrified of my toddler getting sick but it was so nice to have a little quiet and something to break up the morning. I walked about the track for a little bit with the baby but my body totally hated me. Right glute medius started hurting and low back just ached, I also started leaking. My body really hates babywearing. Thankfully my symptoms went away once we got home and I was able to relax. On the bright side, I was able to take 20 min and catch up on work!
I was also able to go to the Y on Friday all by myself. It was amazing for the 20 min I got in before the baby woke up. I did bridges, hands and knees, iliacus pullbacks and glute adductor squeezes. My hips felt so AMAZING! I need to do those more often. I think these two exercises and using the myofascial release cups are the key to getting my QLs to calm down!
I am trying to get in Annatina’s stomach massage every night before I fall asleep. Often I forget or only get in half the strokes she suggested, but I’m trying. I also have a ton of stretch marks in a 10” circle right around my belly button. I spent a couple of nights in front of the TV gently taking my fingers and making sure the skin loosened up and was able to move in all directions. I think it really helped loosen things up and improved ab function!
Win for the week - getting to the gym and releasing my stretch marks!
Jessica's Recovery: Weeks 7 & 8
I had my postpartum checkup today. The midwife checked my diastasis and just checked to make sure that my uterus and ovaries were in the right place. It was a little different than I was used to. In other pelvic checks done by midwives, they have asked me to bear down. I also scheduled an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. I am interested in getting a baseline and if she thinks that I have a front prolapse or not.
I was able to work through most of Stronger After Baby 2 yesterday. I was able to do all the counter squat sets. I also made sure I got some serratus presses in. My scapula have started winging again and it's really frustrating to me. I need to keep working on releasing my chest I think. I am bummed today though. I must have been clenching my piriformis too much instead of my glutes, because that is what is sore today, unfortunately. I also tried a couple of sets of rows. I haven’t done rows since right before Isaac was born and it felt so good! The band was a little heavy so I had to make sure I didn’t put too much pressure down on my pelvic floor.
I sent a picture of my posture to Anna. My hinge point is more prominent than before delivery. She suggested I make sure I do side-lying breathing and release three to four times a day to stay on top of it as much as I could. Goodness, continually I am reminded how slow postpartum feels. How it feels like two steps forward one step back.
I’m also noticing how easily my emotions about my body fluctuate. I am trying to embrace this time of my body being so squishy. I am trying to work hard to eat well but not overdo it, but it’s so hard. I have developed a habit of always looking at myself in the mirror and seeing if anything has improved. Yes, I have been doing this multiple times a day. Not good. I’m realizing this is a nervous habit picked up from when I started my eating disorder at 14. I would stare at my body in the mirror and pick out all the things I hated about myself and make myself feel terrible about myself so then I would eat less. So horrible! My body has gone through an amazing thing growing a baby. I am so thankful that I have learned to start recognizing these patterns and to start being kind to myself instead.
Goal - when I see myself in the mirror work to give thanks for everything my body did - pick out one good thing I see about my body.
Sidenote - I wrote all of this and the next day everything seemed to go to hell and a handbasket, starting with a fall on the stairs
I don’t know what happened. I was carrying laundry down the stairs and suddenly I could feel that I put my foot in the wrong spot and the next thing I knew I was landing hard on my butt. So hard that my neck cracked and my head started to hurt immediately.
Thankfully the head and neck quickly felt fine but I was seriously concerned that I broke my tailbone. As the day went on it seemed to get better. Sitting was rough, full squatting felt great - but the next day everything seemed worse. Walking hurt, sitting hurt. I wasn’t able to squat and activate my glutes on the way up because I would get a pulling on the right side. By Saturday I was almost in tears because I was just so tired of being in pain.
Illiacus pullbacks would give me temporary relief and I sat on an ice pack a couple of times but progress was slow.
Wins from this week
- my tailbone wasn’t broken
- my postpartum check went well!
By Monday, the tailbone was getting better slowly but surely. I had an appointment to see a PT but ended up moving it because we were due to get hit with a snow storm.
But then I started feeling terrible, fever, chills, awful cough. I just wanted to quit my life and crawl into bed.
Thankfully my mother in law came and got my toddler and the next day I was diagnosed with Influenza A. We also ended up taking our infant in because we thought his rectal temp was too high. It actually was normal. We didn’t know at the time you are supposed to subtract a degree when you take a rectal temp. *face palm* His pediatrician reassured me that it was ok to keep nursing him and that he was already exposed. I also got on Tamiflu to give the baby some through my milk.
Tuesday, my pelvic floor was shot and I peed myself just thinking about peeing. My throat felt like there were knives inside of it, stabbing over and over again and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop the coughing. So I pulled out a heavy panty liner and just decided that it would be the band-aid fix until I felt better. That way I wouldn't have the residual tightness from worrying I might pee. Thankfully by the next day my pelvic floor had recovered and it was back to normal. My abs were coming up beautifully on every cough and so all I had to think about was resting, and feeding myself and my baby.
I think taking the Tamiflu helped a ton. My fever broke after 3 full days. The toddler stayed at Nana’s until Sunday just to be safe.
Miraculously, I was the only one who got it and my PF recovered and I think my tailbone also appreciated the week in bed
Wins from this week
- my tailbone felt better!
- I was less stressed without the toddler (funny how that is) so my hinge point actually looked better after a week in bed.
Jessica's Recovery: Weeks 9 & 10
I’m finally not feeling sick anymore!!! Yay! I feel incredibly weak but I was able to get outside with both boys and pulled the toddler around on the sled. I also made the effort to figure out how to get into the Pelvic Floor PT appointment that I had scheduled. Having a nursing newborn that doesn't take a bottle yet can make outings pretty daunting! I really wanted to cancel it but my husband looked at me and told me I should really try to go. I have a hard time asking for help but I needed someone to hold the baby. I overcame my reluctance to ask for help and asked my husband to take work off to come to hold the baby.
In addition to checking my tailbone that was still hurting, I wanted to get a better assessment than what my midwife had given me. At my 6 week appointment, she just checked to make sure that my uterus was a good size and that ovaries were in the right spot. I knew I probably had about a grade 1 cystocele but wanted to get confirmation Diagnosing prolapse can be tricky. The PT I saw after my first baby told me that I didn’t have a prolapse - one midwife said I probably had about a grade .5 and then checking myself this time postpartum, I could tell the bulge in the front was larger than before my pregnancy.
This pelvic floor pt ended up being amazing! She understood all my concerns about breathing and my tailbone. I also asked if she would do some release work on my ribs.
She had me get on the table on my side and she pressed down really hard on each side of my rib cage while I breathed into her pressure. It felt so amazing. She also had me get into a hands and knees position on the table while she stood over me. She massaged my hinge point and my lats and had me relax my stomach while she took her hands and pressed them down around my stomach. Then she had me go on my side again where she internally released my tailbone and assessed my pelvic floor strength. She also checked me for prolapse. She thought my pelvic floor strength was good, and that I had a grade 1 front prolapse. She didn’t think I had anything in the back. Yay! She also suggested I work on not just the lifting part of a pelvic floor contraction but also work on closing the labia when I contract the pelvic floor.
I walked away feeling amazing. I had stepped out of my comfort zone, asked for help and got some amazing relief.
Every day my tailbone got better and better. It was definitely improved after the release. I was able to squat, hip hinge and do bridges for the most part without pain. I figured out that I need to push the ground away vs squeeze my glutes at all. When I squeezed my glutes the back of my pelvic floor would just pull to the right and hurt. It was definitely better after the release but I realized it was drastically better when I used "push the ground away" cueing. Talking with Anna, she suggested that when I am pushing the ground away, I’m using more glutes and less deep hip rotators and I’m avoiding shoving my femur forward in the socket.
Week 9 win - stepping out of my comfort zone and making the appointment to get to the PT. Also getting some awesome release work done that felt amazing!
Shall I call this week "the battle of the upper traps and tailbone"?
I am constantly finding my shoulders up by my ears and every time I try to get a deep breath my upper traps constantly burn and hurt. I even wake up with them incredibly tight and irritated. Gah! I just want everything to relax and not hurt anymore!
My tailbone is still iffy. It's so much better than what it was, but I keep getting a pulling on a lot of glute exercises - especially single leg. After talking with Anna and troubleshooting, I have played around with adding more ab contraction. Anna suggested pelvic floor release and to rewatch the pelvic floor release video our awesome Pelvic Floor PT Annatina has put in our Pelvic Floor program.
Tuesday, I did an all-over body massage in the shower with cellulite cups, focusing a lot on my calves which we had just discussed in the group about how tight calves can affect your neck and forward head posture and I also added in PF release. I didn’t remember a ton of release specifically but I noticed the next day which was also a toddler free day that my neck felt amazing - great - I need to manage stress better when the toddler is around. *face palm*
You would think I would learn - meditation is awesome - I need release work but no...I would rather just plough through and do my exercises and not take the time to release everything.
I did try most of Mom fit 1A on my toddler free day. And yep while it felt awesome my neck still was cranky.
By Friday I was done, done - done with my neck tightness - done with my tailbone - good grief- holding tension in your neck all the time has the ability to ruin your whole day! And week apparently.
I spent all the time that day I had between nursing, naps, and tending to my children, to work on releasing my chest, my mid back, and getting my ribs moving again. I think after my awesome release from my PT, my body didn't know what to do with the sudden freedom and didn't have the strength to hold the release….and so tightened up again.
Here is what I did….
- Mid back rotations - really focusing on breathing into the back of my ribs.
- Full squats while holding on to something low in front of me
- Chest stretches on the wall
- Manual release of my chest with my fingers being careful to stop if I felt any numbness or tingling - there are a lot of nerves there!
- Individual Rib release
- Child’s pose while holding on to the legs of my dresser to mimic hanging so I could stretch my lats.
- Hanging from my pull up bar and breathing into the stretch hanging created.
- Also added in PF release for good measure - that helped my tailbone immensely this time! Took all the pulling away!
- Meditating every chance I got - while rocking my baby I would relax and focus on what my body was feeling - while riding in the car to lunch closing my eyes and relaxing each muscle in turn
By evening I could get a deep breath in for the most part without shallow breathing and letting it all go into my shoulders. Upper traps felt amazing - tailbone felt amazing. Never underestimate taking the time for release work when everything seems to just not be working. I had gotten lazy and everything was paying for it. I think this is a lesson I am learning over and over again - don’t forget the basics. If you can’t get a good deep breath - STOP - release and then move on with strengthening.
Week 10 win - Figuring out my neck tightness and being reminded how important release work and meditation is!
Jessica's Recovery: Week 11
This week I had an episode with my pelvic floor and what could have been a huge setback. It all started with a chair. A wonderful comfy rocker recliner to put in our room that was going to help make nursing comfier and help with rocking my baby to sleep. It showed up on Tuesday and the delivery man rudely left it outside on our walk. I was going to have to unpack the box to even get it in the house!
That was probably my first foolish move.
Thankfully the chair wasn’t fully assembled but it still was super heavy but I pushed through and got it in the house anyway. Once it was in the house I pulled the cardboard box off and scooched it closer to our narrow stairs. I could not wait to get it up to our attic master bedroom so I could put it together and try it out! Eyeing it, and sizing it up with the stairs I knew it would fit but I was shaking and out of breath just getting in the house!
Man, I missed my deadlift and squatting strength.
The chair and it not being in my bedroom were driving me nuts. I had to take a forced break to run to drop off my son at Nana’s. After coming home and moving our other much lighter rocking chair downstairs, my whole being could not wait to get that chair up.
I decided to try. I heaved it up the first 3 steps, and then it got stuck. I didn’t have the upper body strength to keep pushing it up the stairs while at the same time making sure that the rocking mechanism wouldn’t get stuck in the railing.
I stood there for probably a full minute pushing that stupid chair base above my head, wanting so badly to get it up the stairs but I just didn’t have the strength. Good breathing and core activation are mostly pretty good and automatic but my body was just plain tired and I could tell my upper abs were wanting to come and help. I could tell my body was just done.
I gave up. I sent several texts to my husband to encourage him to ditch his work party early….one of them might have been telling him that this chair was torturing me. Maybe I was being a tad dramatic.
I realized after I got the chair back down that my pelvic floor was just off and super tired. I was getting prolapse symptoms again and I could tell that I couldn’t do much for the rest of the night because it felt super vulnerable.
Hubby came home and I was able to help him get the base up the stairs without incident (if only I had more patience *facepalm*)
I knew that the next day, I was probably going to have to pay for all the lifting and that I would really need to take the day easy to help my pelvic floor recover. I started to get really bummed out and worried that I had reinjured my pelvic floor and made my grade 1 prolapse that is normally asymptomatic, a ton worse.
This was the making of a similar situation that brought me to this group and Sarah in the first place. I was missing my pre-baby body after my first baby, went out for a run and pushed myself way too hard. That 30 min of pushing myself set me back over a year.
After mentioning my symptoms to Anna, she suggested I do some abdominal massage, release my pyramadilis, and try Gloria’s new prolapse drill sequence. I took the 30 min I had during naptime to try what she said.
For Gloria’s drills, she has us take a video before and after to show her, to see if our body responds well. I took the first video, walking back and forth. I was depressed and exhausted. My body felt super heavy and weighed down. Then I did her drills. They were much easier than I had expected and I was able to get them done faster than I thought I would! I could immediately tell a big difference. I felt lighter, I had a ton more power. I felt like I could run a marathon! On top of all of that, my prolapse symptoms were gone!!! Taking the second video I had a spring in my step and a big smile on my face. Amazing!!!!
My impatience and not stopping and being realistic about my postpartum abilities could have made for a huge disaster. Lifting not even half of what I did that day, or even just installing a car seat, would have previously set me back at least a day! But thanks to our awesome team, the knowledge that I have learned from Sarah and the overall body strength that I have built and maintained through pregnancy, I came out on the other side of this experience, stronger and wiser from the effort.
Jessica's Recovery: Month 4
Squats made me cry.
Let me explain.
The process of pregnancy and postpartum is hard on me. I think it's hard on everyone...pregnancy is no joke. One of the most difficult parts of it, is not feeling like my body is mine. For 9 months you watch your body make some incredible changes. Your belly swells, your boobs suddenly look like melons. Then to top it all off when your baby comes out then suddenly you feel so much better and think that your body should look like what it was when you first got pregnant.
Shocker, it doesn’t.
Everything feels like you have to relearn it. Your body which you have lived in and have known all your life is suddenly so foreign and you feel like a walking jellyfish.
This second pregnancy was a little easier on me because I knew that the foreign jellyfish feeling was coming. I also gave myself grace to be ok with not being ok. Going through all the changes a pregnant woman goes through in a short 9 months and then you have to keep another human alive outside of your body is just plain stinking hard. We are only human.
Yet I hoped this process would be a little easier because I had experience of how hard this process is and I had a plan. I knew Sarah’s programs would be able to walk me through everything I needed to know postpartum. I hoped that connections would be easier and that I wouldn’t be peeing myself every second.
It was hard, and I had ups and downs all the time but when I finally got to Momfit right around 3 months postpartum I had a glimpse that my body was going to be ok, and that it would feel like mine again.
This is when squats made me cry.
It was Momfit 1B. Which has squats and deadlifts. I used to hate squats. Starting with Sarah and watching her instructions on how to do them made me lose all confidence in what to do and good grief, how was I supposed to feel my glutes in a squat? And what the heck, how was I supposed to have core control???
So to be honest, I avoided them. Granted, Sarah doesn’t program a ton of them in Momfit. She has you doing single leg ones instead.
But eventually, they became my favorite moves. Right as I got pregnant, I got into squatting with barbells and kettlebells and during pregnancy they became one of “go to” moves.
So here I was, 3 months postpartum, and finally picking up that kettlebell again. Was my body going to work?
I had no idea.
I set the squat up. Hip hinged to get the kettle bell safely up to my chest. Set up for my descent by engaging my core (yes, I had learned this by now), made sure I had a tripod foot, with my arch engaged.
It felt as smooth as butter.
My body just automatically went into the correct form, glutes lengthened on the way down and fired on the way up. I felt for just a minute like my body was mine again.
Of course, I caught all those tears on video, which is so precious to me. Over the next month, I was able to get my butt to the gym and get in more focused time to invest in myself away from my children, which is so important I have found for my mental health. Plus, it is so awesome to have mirrors, and my body slowly started to change and become mine more rapidly.
I am still nowhere near where I want to be, but I am still showing up for myself every day, trusting the healing process. The time I spent lifting weight and keeping my muscles remembering the strength they have is paying off, as my strength is quickly coming back and I am moving through the levels of Momfit.
Jessica's recovery: Month 5
The human body is amazingly complicated. It is always astounding to me, how many factors can affect your workout and rehab. Stress, hormones, and where you are in your cycle can all make or break how workouts can go.
I have started to notice a pattern. Every month right before my cycle, I start getting really down on my progress and then a day or two after that workouts feel like they go terrible! Four months postpartum was the hardest. That’s when my period came back. I felt incredibly bloated, nothing seemed to be working right and I had a terrible time keeping a positive attitude about how well I was doing. I was starting to feel great before that - and feeling strong. Getting to the gym 3 times a week was helping my mental space so much and I was feeling amazing...then Aunt Flo decided to come back.
Thanks, mom for passing down the early postpartum period.
It's so much fun!...Not
I also happened to decide to move onto Momfit 3 at the same time. Arriving at the gym, nothing seemed to work. My abs tired out, upper traps hated me and I felt fat and bloated. Single leg squats felt terrible - my tailbone seemed to hate me during every movement especially those really hard single leg bridges
I thought “what in the world?! I did not feel this way last workout!”
Thank you, Period.
I also started picking apart everything I did and felt really down about my progress. I hated watching myself in videos. It was really hard not to think about what I looked like before this pregnancy and how lean I was. I found myself spiraling back into thoughts of “I am so fat - I look awful”. I have fought really hard to get rid of the lie that my weight and my appearance are tied to my worth but it still will come back. It can be hard to fight the darkness of my thoughts when PMS is also flowing through my veins.
I had to rein myself in - I find that telling myself the truth, whether or not I believe it can help calm the negative thoughts that threaten to overtake my brain. I started thinking about how different the recovery from this baby has been than my first. I was 20 lbs lighter then, also unhappy with how I looked, but the big difference was that I was also falling apart and utterly broken. Leaking every step and movement you make, can take you to a very hard place of anxiety and despair - This time is different. I don’t deal with leaking, I don’t feel like I am falling apart - instead, I am coming from a different place of strength. I am still healing from childbirth, pregnancy and my tailbone injury but I am coming to my rehab from 2 years of consistently building muscle and making brain-muscle connections. I am coming to my life from a place of strength vs. weakness.
I choose strong over skinny.
This setback was only going to be a phase. It's a big thing to get your first period postpartum. My body takes a couple of cycles to figure its new game plan out - The next month when I was down about my progress and watching my videos over and over I was able to stop and say -
“Nope, I am near my period, I don’t need to do this, I am choosing strong over skinny - my worth is not in my workouts or in how I look”
Turns out that I ended up being way stronger than my head was telling me. Five months postpartum was right around my birthday. I was able to make it to the gym, early in the morning before anyone was awake in the house - early morning alone time is my total happy place. I decided to try Momfit 4A. It felt amazing. The last exercise was side planks with a balloon.
This would have been an impossibility in my last postpartum recovery!
I decided to go for the side planks, with the balloon, from the ground. I was able to nail it! I needed to get out of my head, and just keep doing the work. - my body remembered and responded.
I choose strong over skinny.
Jessica's Recovery: Month 6
Stress. It really kills. We discredit how much it can affect our lives and our workouts but it really can derail everything. Month 6 I hit a wall and crashed emotionally and physically. With Covid-19 running through our world, my stress built - I also added more things to my plate - I could no longer go to the gym, so I was trying to fit my workouts in at home with kids. I also was adding in two pumping sessions to try to build up an extra supply for my baby in case I got sick and had to be separated. Work was also getting hard to fit in due to not having some occasional evenings to myself because my husband was no longer leaving occasionally in the evenings. Oh, yeah I was also walking 2 miles a day. I was starting to feel the stress of my workouts but didn’t pay attention. I would get done with my workout and I would have crazy neck tightness. I pushed it away and ignored. I decided to move onto Momfit 5 and that increased the neck tightness - I even got a terrible migraine - but still I ignored it. Momfit is so much fun, I didn’t want to face my weaknesses and just plow through.
Then the straw came that broke the camel’s back. I decided that I should probably make my husband and I some masks. Adding that task to my current load seemed unfathomable, not to mention I just wanted to sit and cry and cry as I went through my fabric stash trying to pick out cute options. All I could think about was all the women who came before me and would do what they could during crisis, knitting socks, wrapping bandages. I felt incredibly guilty that I had the skills and the fabric to make masks for nurses and people on the front lines of the virus but just couldn’t...I could barely make them for my family.
I ended up reaching out and asking for help - help with workouts, and clarification on what I needed to be focusing on workwise. I did a 1 on 1 with Anna and she put me through my paces. I had been really struggling with single leg bridges - I had been working on them for months and just not getting them - we came up with a plan. I put a pause on Momfit and started revisiting some of the basics. Anna assigned me to Untwisting for a week, and then to go through PFP Advanced workouts - the first time I ran through untwisting - it felt easy - and it felt like my hips had blown their nose. Next time - my left hip flexor screamed and screamed at me - she encouraged me to slow down- really work through all the steps. I also realized I have been terrible at videoing and posting in the group to ask for advice.
I am not perfect and I still need help!
I posted videos and worked through her tips. Oh goodness, it was so hard to slow down. In the beginning it felt great because I felt like I had a plan - but then slowing down and working through things was so hard! I had to stop and really stare at my weaknesses in the face and that was really uncomfortable.
I also started looking at my life and taking things off of my plate. I remembered from things that Sarah has said and a book that I read called “Burnout” by Emily Nagoski, that our bodies can handle only so much stress. Either it be “good” stress from workouts or “bad” stress from our life, our body has a limit. There is a time to go hard on workouts but the rest of our lives need to be the kind where we could support that stress. As a mom, with two small children - one that physically is still supported by my body - that takes a toll. When I used to train for marathons, I would need the time to sleep, to rest and recover. My body is still healing and recovering from carrying two children, it physically just can’t handle hard cardio workouts, or heavy lifts right now - And that's ok. I will have the season for that - and I can still maintain muscle and get stronger. It just looks different - It looks slower and more meditative.
With this in mind I stopped pumping, I had built up a supply in the freezer of 100 oz - not my initial goal of 2 weeks worth of milk but definitely enough for an emergency. I started slowing down on the walks. If I got it in, great. If not - that was fine! I started to realize that I also had not been eating enough - I was so stressed that my body was suppressing hunger. Workouts started being enjoyable again. Instead of working through them fast, I was working on exercises throughout the day, in bits and pieces - revisiting hands and knees and making sure I videoed everything, or at least had my phone out with the camera on so I could see where I was cheating. I also put my children and myself on more of a schedule and majorly cut down on screen time. Before we let our toddler watch tv whenever he wanted and he was getting so cranky, I also had no time to do anything. Funny how that works. I decided to only do screen time during times when my youngest was napping so I would have set “work times” and have both kids hopefully occupied.
These changes started to pay off. I was able to stop and notice cheats. My serratus started finally catching up in strength. My abs started responding better. I was able to have the head space to work through my neck tightness in lat pulls. I had to drop down to the very lightest band! But I figured out my cheats in that exercise! My pushups started responding as well! I have also been struggling with neck tightness there as well but because I have taken the time to slow down I figured out that my chest needed to be stronger, and my head needed to come up more when I tried them.
I saw this quote the other day that really resonated with me.
“Discomfort is the price of admission to meaningful life”. (Susan David)
I used to think that this applied to cardio. That we just needed to push through the pain to get that run in, or finish that marathon no matter the cost. Now I relate this to slowing down and making sure my body is responding well and paying attention to ensure it is using the right muscles. It really was uncomfortable to stop and slow down and focus on my weaknesses. It is much more fun to ignore and just push through! I am finding instead that this break to work on weaknesses, and down regulate stress is exactly what I need in this season.I needed to take the time to stare at my whole self and sit in the discomfort of my weaknesses, not wallow in them but lovingly slowly tweak things so that my body can be better, stronger.
My body is responding - Over the last month I lost a whole inch around the top of my pelvis and an inch in my bust! This tells me that along with stopping pumps (so my boobs are just smaller) that working on the basics was changing the structure of my bones! My hips are changing and my rib cage is getting smaller!! Which is huge in moving forward in helping my whole body work together better!
I didn’t want to slow down and pay attention to my weaknesses, in my life or in my workouts...but in the end it's paying off. Is it fun? - not all the time but I am seeing fruit and I know my future self will thank me.
Wins from this month
-better ab engagement
-better arch engagement from waking up my glute medius in untwisting
-hamstrings waking up and in turn making my glutes work so much better!
-I am staying on top of neck tightness!
1 Week to 6 Months Postpartum Summary
A lot can happen in 6 months. The first 6 months postpartum is a lot of give and take as you are recovering from birth - not sleeping well and caring for a new infant. I continued to work on the basics as I felt good and worked on getting stronger at the gym and habit stacking in daily life. This postpartum felt amazingly better than the first time I gave birth. I have still dealt with struggles and setbacks - one month I would feel super strong and then my period would hit and I would take a couple of steps back. I have found that keeping strong through my pregnancy has helped me in leaps and bounds. As I am testing my limits on things I am finding that my strength level has improved dramatically if you were to compare it to the same timeline postpartum with my first child. So wins all around!
Here are a couple of things that improved in the first couple of months - my head posture improved dramatically - also my ab tone. You can tell I have some tight hip flexors still and a hinge point at 6 months but it has definitely improved since immediately postpartum. I feel like I have laid some great foundations of breathing and working through the untwisting series so I am now continuing to work on keeping those great habits and building on the great foundation by adding strength. I feel like I can do just about anything. I can run in an emergency without leaking, I can bike and walk while feeling great. I don’t feel utterly broken like I did when I first injured myself at 5 months postpartum with my first baby. I am continuing to work on serratus strength as that seems to be the biggest thing hindering me in most upper body stuff. I am coming to a lot of bodyweight exercises with just more physical body weight than before - which I am fine with - I know a lot of it is muscle - I am no longer a wet noodle like I was before!
Going forward -
- Continue to build hip strength. My deep hip rotators want to kick in so I am working on lifting more weight and making sure its the glute max is kicking in and not my deep hip rotators. Glute med also needs some love as well 🙂
- Lower ab strength - this was something that limited me big time last time so I am hitting deadbugs and lower abs especially planks at least 3 to 4 times a week
- Serratus and lower trap strength - this has been a constant struggle for me but I am getting ahead! Working on continually releasing and strengthening and my neck, for the most part, has been feeling amazing!!
- Arches - My goal is to be able to run without pain and I need to continue to work on arches to keep working towards that goal 🙂
Jessica's Recovery: One Year Update
I have been going back and forth on how to write this – I was messaging with a couple of friends the other day and said, “How do I nicely explain and write ‘my world went to hell when George Floyd died and I gained at least 20 lbs’?”
I want to put this off for another 6 months. I want to be in a place where I have it all together, and I feel and look fabulous. But that’s not where I am. This is me, in what feels still like a mess at one year postpartum.
The last 6 months have been incredibly stressful. We live in Minneapolis – so when George Floyd died and the city burned from nightly riots, we evacuated to different families' houses for a week. I really don’t want to get into the politics of it all, but when the world moves on, we will still live with the reminder that our city burned, signs crying for justice are still all over the city, and violence has increased immensely. Due to the stress in the month of June, I gained 10lbs – then I spiraled into an eating disorder relapse. I tried restricting. I was obsessed with my body, and was trying to control something – the world, my city, my husband’s family, my family, all felt like it was falling apart. So I went back to my old ways of body obsession and eating restriction. The thing is though, with nursing, the more I tried to restrict the more weight I gained, and the worse I felt mentally and physically.
At the same time, I kept trucking with my workouts. I am super consistent about exercising – I don’t know how to not do it – it’s a habit built into me from when I started running at 14. I kept up with my workouts and rehab exercises. I would tell my husband and my friends that I feel so strong. I felt in some ways the strongest and more put together than I had in a long time. Doing Shoulder Solutions was amazing for my neck and shoulders, and I was able to continue to increase weight in my compound lifts (i.e squats, deadlifts, hip thrust) Most of the time I didn’t even have to think about my pelvic floor, which is amazing! I even started running!
By August though, I was still struggling – that’s when I said “enough” – and booked myself a couple of therapy sessions.That helped turn things around. I got on top of my triggers, shut off all politics, didn’t read the news and bubbled. I focused on my kids, my work, and what I could control in my little world. I am very religious and started practicing trusting God with my body and things that I couldn’t control. I also worked on not looking at myself in pictures, and stopped videoing myself all together.
Fast forward to October, and I am doing a lot better than I was in August. I am working on weaning my son – and I think while working on the mental piece is very important, my body is also exhaling from not having to feed another human being full-time. Within a week of dropping morning feedings, I noticed a dramatically decreased appetite and swelling in my face went down. For my sanity, as we enter a long Minnesota winter, I got a membership at the nearby climbing gym so I can have a place to go when I just need to get out of the house. I love having a gym in my home – but then I really don’t ever leave the house, and that’s not healthy for me either.
In conclusion, I am not where I hoped I would be weight wise at the end of a year – I had visions of getting my body “back” – but I am leaps and bounds ahead in strength and posture than I thought I would be. I almost didn’t want to do a posture comparison, because I wasn’t sure if I would be majorly triggered or not. But thankfully I was feeling good this morning after fitting into leggings I couldn’t fit into a year ago. It was good for me, I think! I still have a little bit of an APT, but, my forward head posture has dramatically improved, my shoulders sit square on my body, and I have the most amazing butt ever (I literally can’t keep my husband off of me at times *wink*).
I know I am not 100% where I want to be, but the things I learned this year on stress management and working through the mental piece of my teenage eating disorder have been invaluable, and I know no matter what my body does, I believe that my God has me in his hands, and my value doesn’t depend on the scale or the size of the pants my strong legs fit into.