Most CrossFitting moms-to-be make every effort to stay active throughout their pregnancies — and then try to jump right back into their fitness regimens postpartum. But while CrossFit women have a reputation for being tough, even the toughest may struggle to work through some of the standard challenges associated with the post-pregnancy period. After all, bringing a baby into the world is a beautiful thing, but some of the aftermath is slightly less lovely.
Tears. Upon returning, it’s important to ease back into things. Your “Fran” time is more than likely not what it was a year ago, and your cardio and lifting abilities may be a bit limited. None of that is anything to be upset about. All those shifted organs, loosened ligaments and stretched muscles don’t just pop right back into place once that baby is out. So give yourself permission to go slower, lift lighter and relinquish expectations. And when you feel frustration coming in hot, take a deep breath and remind yourself that recovery from a body-changing experience takes a little time. You’ll get there.
Lactation. Whether you breast-feed or not, milk may make an appearance with even the slightest stimulation. The barbell brushes your chest, box jumps get things jiggling and burpees can become a hot mess. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. For breast-feeding fans, pump before you begin a workout and be sure you have some pads in place to soak up any seeping. For women going the formula route, stuff cabbage leaves in a sports bra and keep things nice and confined until your milk has dried up. And if you find yourself with some telltale secretion marks, pretend it’s sweat and get on with it.
Hemorrhoids. Nobody ever talks about these bad boys, but they are common and uncomfortable not only during pregnancy but also after. They can bleed, they can itch and they can make your lower half that much more uncomfortable. But I assure you, with proper care and precaution, they will likely go away. Witch hazel is a magical formula for relieving discomfort, but heavy lifting should wait until things clear up.
Core. For months, your stomach slowly protruded to make way for a little life. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but more often than not, your core is left pretty weak, and the adjustments it must make to return to “normal” following childbirth can take longer than some women are prepared to be patient for. Give your gut a little love by challenging it without pushing too far.
Sometimes, especially in the world of fitness fanatics, recovery from pregnancy becomes something of a contest. Who can get flat abs faster? Who can PR just one week post-pregnancy? Who can say they’re problem-free? Really, it’s all bullshit. Every woman has a unique experience during and after pregnancy. And every woman should be afforded the dignity and encouragement to carry on at a pace that works for her. Every CrossFit mom has her own struggles, and the gym shouldn’t be a source of stress or frustration during a period of life that should be indulgent and celebratory.