The Ugly Truth About Postpartum Exercise

The Ugly Truth About Postpartum Exercise
Image courtesy of hyena reality /

Before I got pregnant, I was training for a half marathon. Running was never something I particularly enjoyed, but suddenly I found myself looking forward to my morning runs in the crisp air- I was pushing myself, and making myself stronger. In addition to practicing yoga three times a week at a local studio and eating a healthy diet, I was in the best shape of my life.

In what seemed like the first hours after finding out that I was pregnant, I could barely think about my running shoes without throwing up. I was so sick for those first three months that it was difficult for me to leave the house some days. Needless to say, my ideal of staying active and strong during my pregnancy went right out the window.

As my pregnancy progressed, I did become more active- nothing more than long walks, but better than being on the couch. The mild weather of fall had me unexpectedly yearning for a nice run though, but at 30+ weeks pregnant, it definitely wasn’t in the cards- but oh, how I looked forward to the day when I could finally lace up my shoes and run again!

Fast forward to this past week- my sweet daughter is 6 weeks old and I am finally feeling comfortable enough to leave her with her daddy for 45 minutes while I go for a jog. I think I had trouble keeping a smile on my face as I headed out the door! And then….I started jogging.

Nobody warned me what this would be like. So, I’m going to tell you what I wish everyone had told me:

Your body is not the same.

If I could have a nickel for every time I wished that my boobs were bigger growing up, I’d be a rich lady. Well, thanks to breastfeeding, I now have those bigger breasts. Yeah. Not the party I thought it would be. I thought I was going to bruise myself, or leak through my shirt, or any number of hilariously embarrassing things that could’ve resulted. I felt disproportionate- like I was top-heavy or my balance was off. Oye. Maybe boobs won’t be the thing that’s different for you, but something will be- so, keep that in mind.

You aren’t as strong/fast/flexible as you once were.

It took me the same time to jog/walk 2 miles that it used to take me to run 3 on an easy day. You may feel healthy, look good, even be back down to normal weight, but that doesn’t mean you’ve retained athletic prowess you had before. Go lightly and have grace with yourself. You had to work to get there once, and you’ll work to get there again, but that’s the important part- you’ll get there.

You’ll probably pee yourself a little.

Or, maybe, a lot. This was maybe the most unexpected thing for me (all of my college friends are laughing because of my reputation for peeing when I laugh- ok guys, you win). I literally tinkled a little bit with every step of my jog. It sort of felt like my insides were going to fall out. So now that I’ve been the guinea pig for all of us, do yourself a favor and wear a pantiliner. You’re welcome.

It’s all worth it.

Sure, it’s frustrating to have to get back into shape or wear a little extra gear on a run. But, hello! I come home to a beautiful little girl who wants to snuggle into those (bigger) boobs and whose beautiful birth gave me a little temporary incontinence. I’d never trade her for the best body in the world!

As you begin your postpartum recovery, remember what’s important- your family and your health. Have grace with yourself and know that you’re right where you are supposed to be!

What was your postpartum recovery like? Any funny stories to share? What surprised you? Tell me in the comments!

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