Post-Partum Running

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a medical professional. Talk to your doctor to determine your own abilities and limitations post-partum. I write only from my own experience as a mom.

In the days after giving birth, my body was a mess. Like many of you, I delivered full-term, vaginally, and am fortunate that I did not encounter serious complications. That said, 6.5 lbs of human came out of me, twice, in addition to a lot of other stuff. Then, I was plagued by night sweats, hormonal swings, continuous leaking from ungodly parts, and pain in most places. Meanwhile, I was prevented from sleeping and suddenly responsible for the survival of a tiny creature with no business being out in the world on its own.

Why did I not realize that it would take me a few days to walk comfortably again? That I’d continue being exhausted for weeks? That my underparts would never be the same?

All that to say that running was out of the question immediate post-partum. I remember going on my first “long walk” (read: approximately 4 blocks) with my mom, about a week after A was born, and remarking, in surprise, that it felt like my insides might just fall right out of me. Of course, they didn’t. And over time, that feeling subsided. But can you imagine attempting to bounce or do anything remotely like a run, while worried that your skin might not hold your organs in?

Ok, enough gore and guts. Let’s talk about what brought me back from that brink.

  1. First of all, I started walking farther and farther, with A or B strapped to me in one of my many baby-wearing devices (neither one tolerated their car seat/stroller for their first 3 months). These were my favorites: Moby Wrap, Ergobaby with Infant Insert, Moby Ring Sling, and occasionally the Baby Bjorn as he got older but not too heavy.
  2. Starting at 6 weeks post-partum, I joined Fit4Mom, which involved participating in Stroller Strides twice a week for the remainder of my maternity leave. This was an incredible group and challenged me to move again in ways I had forgotten my body could! It also eventually taught B to fall asleep in his car seat.
  3. Then I stopped cold-turkey and did almost nothing for 3 months. I don’t recommend this part. That said, it was winter in Portland (aka raining and cold). And I was learning how to be a working mom of 2. In other words, if you need it, give yourself a break.
  4. I tried a few Barre3 classes. This was lots of fun and I LOVE the beat. I also enjoyed going with friends! But it didn’t help my confidence that I could do literally none of the ab exercises.
  5. Then, when B was 6 months old, I started training for my upcoming half marathon. This is taking all four of my strategies to make possible. I worked up to 3-4 runs per week with long walks, then 1-2 runs per week, increasing my distances over the course of a few months.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Diastasis Recti – separation of ab muscles common after giving birth
  2. Pelvic Floor issues – incontinence, prolapse, and other results of vaginal delivery
  3. General muscle atrophy – after not using certain muscles for months, I needed to take it slow before building up the stamina and strength to do much more than lift and feed my babies
  4. Probably lots of other things – ask your doctor!

How did you get back into running after having a baby? What worked for you? What didn’t? Share in the comments!

Advertisements

The Capsule Wardrobe for Moms

I come from a fashionable family. My dad loves to shop and dress others. So does my sister. My mom has an eye for matching clothes. Even my brother tolerates shopping outings with the end result of a good looking set of matching outfits.

I, on the other hand, am happiest when I’m comfortable. When I find an article of clothing that feels good, I buy it in every color and rotate through them. I, famously, have this Express Portofino shirt in 8 colors and patterns (both long-sleeves and no-sleeves) and wear it with 3 colors of these Uniqlo pants.

Woman wearing Express Portofino shirt, smiling
My uniform

It’s my favorite work uniform, and takes some decision-making stress away from my day. See other uniform advocates, like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Elizabeth Holmes here. And when I’m in shape, my uniform looks good and feels good. More on that in a moment…

Besides being an ongoing joke in my family, I don’t think much about my clothes. That is, until I didn’t fit into them anymore.

Maternity clothes were wonderful and continued to be so long after it’s generally acceptable to continue wearing them. When B reached 6 months and I was still walking around in parachute pants (which I highly recommend for maternity wear), I realized something had to change. This is where the capsule wardrobe for moms comes into play.

It’s depressing to look at all those clothes that don’t fit, even if you don’t care all that much about them. So, here’s what worked to lift my spirits AND make me feel and look good in my clothes again:

  1. I started by paring down my wardrobe. I removed all the clothes that were too small and put them in a duffel bag in the basement, alongside the clothes that were out of season. These were mostly those that didn’t fit around my expanded belly, butt, and bust.
  2. I identified which items were really outdated (as in, I probably wore them in high school) and donated them.
  3. I also determined which items were too small, but I could not live without. Those, I did some very selective shopping for, in a larger size. Bras were vital to this list!
  4. I crowd-sourced my pregnancy pals for a new uniform that I could rock while I worked on losing weight. Enter the baggy sweater and legging outfit!
  5. And, very importantly, my husband rescued some of the clothes from the donate pile that ended up serving as motivation. I worried over my Express Portofino shirts, so he ended up hiding them, along with a beloved hiking shirt and my stretch goal pair of jeans (come on, we all have these…) in the back of one of his drawers.

I’m proud to report that as of a few weeks ago, I’m back to my Express Portofino shirts + Uniqlo pants uniform AND I wore that hiking shirt again a few days ago. It only took about a year, 3 months of half-marathon training, and 5 months of food tracking, to fit back into them. That hiking shirt was originally purchased for our Peru trip. Oh how far we’ve come since then…

Without my temporary capsule wardrobe, I would have had to think about how different my body was ALL THE TIME. This gave me the chance to love my baby-bearing body, look good in some clothes, while also working toward a goal.

Learn more about capsule wardrobes here:

How did you address your wardrobe during the months (years?!) post-pardum?