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Crossfit Postpartum Update

12 May 2015

Before returning to Crossfit, I waited the full six weeks to be cleared by my midwife. About five week postpartum I started doing some small sets of pushups, air squats, and jump rope at my house...just to see how things would feel. Other than that, my first six weeks were used for my own physical recovery, to allow my body to recoup from the blood loss, and to bond with my baby. We took more naps than walks, and enjoyed a pretty sedentary existence. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Bringing Faye to Crossfit for the first time. She was 9 days old and we were both just spectators!

I think we often get way too focused on being productive and we are far too anxious to get that pre-baby body back. Here's the thing though, the priority list should look something like this:

Feeding baby
Getting breastfeeding established
Cuddle time & bonding with baby
Physical recovery for mommy
Rest, rest, rest, rest, rest
Sleep & naps, sleep & naps
Mommy nutrition (at least 700 additional calories per day if breastfeeding)
Learning how to use all the crazy baby gear
Mommy exercise

This is, of course, just my opinion...but when I read about moms that started working out just 2-3 weeks after childbirth, it makes me cringe a little. Actually, it really makes me feel sad. That postpartum time is so precious. It goes so fast. Why rush things? Society, the media, and other women put so much pressure on us to lose the baby weight and get our pre-baby bodies back that we have a tendency to put the cart before the horse.

Faye dressed in her little Crossfit onesie and camo leg warmers

Anyhow, enough of that rant, and onto my experience restarting Crossfit postpartum. Prior to my 6-week appointment, I had already been checked by two midwives who both confirmed that I had no diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles.) This is really critical, because certain exercises can make this problem worse and, if not properly rehabbed, often requires surgical repair. Since I knew I didn't have any diastasis, I scheduled a personal training session with a BirthFit coach on the day of my 6-week midwife appointment. At my BirthFit session, my coach shared with me some exercises to help encourage abdominal healing and also some exercises that should be avoided for at least 12 weeks postpartum(!!) even in the absence of diastasis.

The next day I happily returned to my Crossfit gym. My legs were totally dead from all the back squats I did with my BirthFit coach. Then we did Strict Press on my first day pretty quickly my entire body was sore beyond belief. I couldn't believe how terrible my fitness felt. My lifts felt weak and I couldn't push the cardio too much without feeling dizzy.  It's weird to realize you felt better working out 41 weeks pregnant than you do 6 weeks postpartum...but that was my reality.

Without realizing it, I had put a lot of expectation on my postpartum fitness. I thought being 25-35lbs lighter would immediately translate into feeling so light, fast, and strong. Wrong! As I write this post, I've now been back at Crossfit for two weeks. Just today my workout felt a little better and my fitness feels like its moving in the right direction....but I am nowhere near my peak performance.

I also had a bit of an epiphany. I need to scale the workouts to a similar degree as I did during my last trimester (this mainly applies to weight lifting percentages), and I need to be just as patient with myself now as I was then. My attitude during the last few months of my pregnancy was that "just showing up and working out is a victory, regardless of my score or time or how much weight I lifted." That's exactly the attitude I need now.  I know my fitness will return. I know I have more PR's in my future...but for now, I need to just show up and consider that a victory.

41 weeks pregnant

1 Week postpartum

While it's not my intention to make this post about losing the baby weight, I will say that maintaining an exercise regimen during pregnancy is so helpful in this regard! I cannot say for sure whether it was Crossfit or genetics or what exactly but by Day 3 postpartum when I had the idea to hop on the scale, I had already lost 25lbs of the 35 total that I gained during my pregnancy. The weight has continued to fall off easily and I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight now (8 weeks postpartum.)

My hope is that the information I shared about Crossfitting during pregnancy and now postpartum can help other pregnant mamas be happy and healthy and stay active during pregnancy, have a great childbirth, and get back to it once things settle down about 6-8 weeks after the baby arrives. It's an awesome adventure!


  1. Great post Emily! Slow and steady wins the race :) Let's help each other attend CFR regularly

  2. Great job, Em! I half-expected that I would have a little meltdown about my body post-baby body at some point due to my past self-image issues, but if anything, I feel proud of myself for growing and birthing a baby -- and now, feeding her so well! Sure, I'd love to be back to my old weight, but whatever. That can wait. I'll get there, but I'm not going to kill myself over it. :) The fact that I work full-time and breastfeed and care for my baby makes me feel like Super Woman. Ha!


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