Choosing Strength: Postpartum Edition
Our bodies change over time as we age. The beauty of that transformation is that we can choose to make ourselves stronger. Now that I’m on the other side of pregnancy (being a Mother), it is REALLY hard to carve out time to workout and prep healthy meals. Working full time, breastfeeding, pumping, teaching, being a mom, wife, etc. and the list could go on. When the hell do I have time to take care of myself? That’s when I noticed that this feeling could become a problem. I love my son more than the world, however he needs me to be okay, and I cannot feel guilty about that. I have been athletic all my life, I preach the gospel of yoga and being healthy, and I can’t lose who I am. How am I supposed to show him how he should take care of his body from the inside/out, when I can’t do it myself? I have to walk the talk. I’m fortunate to have a supportive husband that understands this. Taking care of myself is imperative not only for myself but for my family.
Being sick made me lose muscle mass big time. The first 20 weeks of my pregnancy I was projectile vomiting everyday, multiple times a day. I only felt good for the last bit of my second trimester and then the third trimester I had heartburn and insomnia. My pregnancy was healthy but my body was weak. I swore to myself prior to becoming pregnant, I would be so fit and strong while pregnant. LOL! Yeah, spoken like someone who had never experienced pregnancy. For anyone that’s thinking about having children or is pregnant, do what you need to do to not only take care of yourself but your baby. Given my weakened state, working out like I used to was not what I needed, nor was it going to happen. I ate nutritiously and went on walks. That’s what I needed to do at the time and I don’t regret it.
Now, I’m almost six months postpartum and I feel like I’m in a good place mentally and physically. I’m nowhere near where I was before my pregnancy but that’s okay. I not only had a C-section to recover from, but I had to heal from being in hard ass labor for an extended period of time (some of it without drugs!). There’s no rush for me. I just want to be strong for my son and I want to be the best version of myself.
I’ve made a pact that once a week I will take a studio yoga class in addition to once a week doing strength training with my husband (Tough Mudder 5k in August!). I’ve also committed to doing 30-45 minutes of yoga when I’m done nursing my son, once I get home from work. Is it easy? Hell no. I swear once I get going, something distracting happens (phone call, dirty diaper) but I keep persisting because I know not only physically but most importantly mentally, I feel so much better once I’ve taken care of my body.
Anyone that’s ever breastfed and/or pumped knows the hunger is very real. I’ve trained for many things and no one prepped me for how hungry I would be while breastfeeding. I’m not strict on portions but 80% of what I eat is cooked at home and meal prep is my savior. Of course I will never turn down Oscar’s Tacos. Hey, I’m human. BUT before I eat something, I ask myself will it benefit my son and me? I’m vegan and don’t eat a lot of gluten during the week. I’ve also limited my soy intake and replaced that with more veggies. Here’s a sample of my usual eats:
Avocado on a Gluten Free Tortilla with hot sauce OR gluten free cereal with unsweetened almond milk
Mid Morning Snack
Phood protein shake with almond milk, blended banana and chia seeds
1/2 Baked Sweet Potato (salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes)
Sautéed Kale with liquid aminos
Lentils, Quinoa seasoned with Turmeric, salt, and pepper
Mid Afternoon Snack
Be Kind Breakfast Bar – Peanut Butter
Veggies, brown rice and avocado
Oscar’s Veggie Tacos with no cheese or sour cream 🙂
Am I perfect? No! Do I make pancakes on the weekend? Yes! But I make sure those pancakes are nutrient dense. Do I go out to eat? Duh! I’m tired as hell and sometimes don’t feel like doing shit, especially cooking. I just make sure to go after food that will benefit my son and my progress. Low and slow is the way to go to get long lasting results. I know that for a fact.
I did not have the birth that I had envisioned having. I wanted to do it naturally, with a midwife, and without drugs. After two days of labor (4 hours of pushing), two midwives, an OB/GYN, and a surgeon confirmed that a) my pelvis was too small to EVER give birth vaginally and b) the positioning of my son’s head was compromising to a successful natural birth. I had to have a C-section to save my son’s life…and likely mine as well. I felt very nurtured and loved by the entire team that took care of me at the hospital. My doula helped me through extremely difficult moments. My midwife never left my side in the operating room and my husband got to hold my son first (since I was being sewn back up!) and have skin to skin with him. My midwife even took photos as well. I was very loved and taken care of despite everything.
Those first couple days after giving birth, I felt like a failure as a Mom because I was recovering from surgery and wasn’t as mobile as I wanted and envisioned I would be. I could have gone to many dark places because “my plan” did not happen. I made a choice to get well and ask for help. We are so scared of asking for help because society says doing so is weak. It’s not. It was the best thing I ever did. I just focused on breastfeeding and recovering from surgery. I still ask for help now! I don’t know everything and never will. We need each other. It takes a village.
If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, my opinion of strength has definitely evolved. My mind, body and soul have to be strong and balanced. If one of those three elements is off, everything else becomes misaligned. Take care of your temple and be grateful for this day. Don’t look at the scale…look at your heart.