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Getting Back In Shape After Pregnancy - Postpartum Recovery

How to recover from a 270 day marathon!


4 running mothers share their best tips on pregnancy recovery and how to deal with challenges. This is a good 7 minute read for everyone that once was born.


7,9 billion people live on Earth today. We all started our life journey inside a womb, and for 9 months we developed inside our mothers. Something that we sort of take for granted...roughly 400,000 babies pop out each day and we couldn’t possibly give it too much thought.


But remember, carrying, giving birth to, nurturing and raising a child is like being a superhero. Parenting differs from person to person, country to country, situation to situation. But the superhero aspect stays.


Study says pregnancy is the equivalent of running a 40-week marathon.

When analyzing data from some of the world’s toughest and longest endurance events (Race Across The USA, Tour de France, etc), researchers looked into metabolic rates for participants. The highest rate any human can handle is 2.5 times their resting rate. Pregnant women operate at 2.2 times their resting metabolic rate DAILY.

And when you reach the finish line, that’s when the real work starts! Giving birth, nurturing a newborn and dealing with roller-coaster hormones, injuries and sleepless nights. Recovery? Haha, out of the question! Or? It’s not until recent years we started talking more openly about what it actually takes, and to many people - including women - it comes as a surprise.

At IAMRUNBOX we preach active commuting as the easiest way to fit fitness into an overloaded schedule. Your new life needs all the attention - so make every minute count. Turn busy into fun! Turn traffic jam into joyful running! Protect your sore back and invest in an ergonomic running backpack. You’re worth it!

As motivating help, we asked 4 mothers to share their best tips on staying active during pregnancy and how to get back into shape.

(Important: we are all different: always check with your doctor first before you begin an exercise program).


Some important facts (not mentioning the lack of time):


  • Tearing: The majority of women (up to 9 in every 10) will tear to some extent during childbirth. Most women will need stitches to repair the tear. Most tears occur in the perineum; this is the area between the vaginal opening and the anus (back passage). (Oxford University Hospitals)
  • Abs separation: During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles give way to make space for your growing baby. After childbirth, it could take up to six months for your core to function optimally again. Because of this separation, you could experience an overload of certain muscle groups, which could lead to e.g. lower back complaints, pelvic complaints or obstipation. (mominbalance)
  • Breast milk: Heavy and leaking breasts due to milk production, is normal. A moderate exercise program is safe and healthy, but vigorous exercise can lead to a breast infection and cause a decrease in your breast milk supply. It can also change the taste of your breast milk. (verywellfamily)
  • Urinary incontinence: Most women who give birth vaginally will experience these complications afterward. In most cases, issues can last up to a year, and smaller percentages of women are still living symptoms after 5 years. (Dedicated to Women ObGyn)
  • C-section: full recovery takes 4 to 6 weeks. Yet every person is different, and much research suggests a significantly longer recovery time. Studies have found that 60 percent of women have some pain in the incision 24 weeks after delivery. (medicalnewstoday)
  • Mood swings: Hormones can exert a powerful influence on brain cells, and no time in a person’s life produces more extreme hormone fluctuations than pregnancy. The brain’s grey matter shrinks during pregnancy, and estrogen and progesterone hormones sky rocket. Sleep deprivation affects too. Some women experience severe prenatal and postpartum depression. (brainfacts)
  • Lack of sleep: It’s normal for new mothers to experience significant sleep deprivation and fragmentation. For some, nights up with a newborn can morph into clinical insomnia. Stress and life changes, positive or negative, are the biggest triggers for insomnia. Other changes, such as the major drop in reproductive hormones (which influence the body clock), and a shift for the brain to be more alert to listen for the baby, can also fuel chronic sleeplessness. (Michigan Medicine)
  • Want to read more? Here’s a great article with more detailed info.


Helena Bjälkemo

Instagram: @Helenabjalkemo


Running woman with backpack Pro

- What is your best tip to get back into shape after pregnancy?


No stress. Lower your expectations. Let your body and your baby be in charge of your training. It's nice to train alone. But it is more likely to happen if you include your baby in the training. I did strength training and stroller runs with my kids during my paternity leave. We all loved it. 


- What is your best tip to stay active during pregnancy?


Listen to your body but don’t be afraid to exercise. It’s great for both you and your baby. Try to do something every day. Even if it’s just a short walk. But don’t start a new sport. Choose an activity your body is used to. Then you’ll know when it doesn’t feel right. And if something feels uncomfortable, stop. But don’t become inactive. Try something else. Otherwise it’ll be a really long way back. 


- What was the biggest challenge being pregnant and after pregnancy?


Patience. I love my strong body. But it changes during and after a pregnancy. I now know that you get even stronger after a pregnancy. Both mentally and physically. But I was really impatient coming back to training. Although I now feel comfortable in my body’s abilities I still have areas that I feel insecure about. I am not super happy about the excess skin that rolls over my pants. The stretch marks on my hips. Or my giant belly button, impossible to hide under my clothes. But I am proud of my body. It has never failed me. Twice it has housed two little humans. It has laboured and delivered. And continues to recover strong. The female body amazes me. 



Nora Biever

Instagram: @runfit_nora

Mother with Son

- What is your best tip to get back into shape after pregnancy? 


My best tip to get back into shape is to find a way to accept the new you because every pregnancy leaves its marks. What helped me a lot was looking at my beautiful baby boy knowing that my body was able to give him life. We also walked a lot together as a family and the fresh air was purifying. I threw away all the old clothes as well. Ended up a size 44/46 so I had no use for a 36 sized pair of jeans. 3 years later I would have fit them again because I developed an atypical anorexia after pregnancy. I wanted to be thin but it wasn't sustainable at all, my body isn't meant to be. I took lots of time but balance took over again. I should have got treatment earlier so please never be afraid to ask for professional real life help (no keto, etc apps, but true help). Pregnancies are harsh and you are allowed to have bad feelings about them as well. But in the end, there is a new human being you are going to love the most on earth which can be scary as well but nothing will ever be more pure.


- What is your best tip to stay active during pregnancy? 


To stay active during pregnancy... I have no tips. Mine was a bit difficult and I gained so much weight.. I can only recommend you to see things through with your doctor. But with the knowledge I have now, if your pregnancy isn't a difficult one where you have to put your child's safety first, swimming and walking as well as yoga sound like the things you can do. For everything else, listen to the doctor and your body.


- What was the biggest challenge being pregnant and after pregnancy? 


The most challenging part was seeing my body transform. The belly was cute but the swollen legs and feet hurt so much. I was pregnant during a very hot spring in 2014 where we had two weeks of 35 Degrees Celsius... Wasn't nice. Especially my feet were heavy so I constantly put them into cold baths. The stretch marks are a mood killer as well. I mean who invented these? They have no purpose at all but they make us feel so bad. Women should be crowned for going through this. In the end, we get used to them, sure, they are natural tattoos and we love what they represent and self love and acceptance always win. So we stop seeing them. It's okay to have them. Even if you are not pregnant, these things happen but it needs work to find acceptance, peace and love for yourself. I can only say it once again: if you struggle, don't hesitate to find the help you deserve. Going through all these changes with many sleepless nights ahead is harsh and it is totally ok to think it's hard!



Amy

Instagram: @barefoot_mother_runner

mother with 2 children

- What is your best tip to get back into shape after pregnancy?


I think the most important thing for me after pregnancy was taking it slow. I had to remind myself that my body took 9 months to change…and it wouldn’t change back overnight. Running became my self care after pregnancy. It was not only my preferred exercise, but also a way to still feel like myself. There is SO much pressure to be a perfect parent- and perfect parents don’t exist. When things got chaotic or kids were having meltdowns, we went for a run, and nearly every time we returned home in a better mood. 


- What was the biggest challenge being pregnant and after pregnancy?


Pregnancy is hard. Parenting is hard. But it’s all worth it!



Lina Westin - Co-founder of IAMRUNBOX

Instagram: @bop_west

Mother and daughter

- What is your best tip to get back into shape after pregnancy?


Don’t stress. Wait for your body and mind to acclimatize to this new life. Invest in good shoes, an ergonomic backpack and a breastfeeding-sport-top as motivation and help. Stay active through peaceful walks with the stroller and try to meditate while breast-feeding. Step up the game later, once you get your new routines going. Focus on bonding with your baby. That love will carry you through whatever life throws at you later.

- What is your best tip to stay active during pregnancy?


If you are thinking about getting pregnant, start exercising before the belly gets too big. I put focus on training my back, and it helped me a lot while carrying my baby. I never once had an issue. I tried running up until the day when my body and mind said stop, sooner than planned of course. Focus on walks, and swimming if possible. Whether you stroll for 10 minutes or power walk for an hour, it doesn’t matter. The only result that matters is that the baby is doing fine (and that means you are doing fine).


- What was the biggest challenge being pregnant and after pregnancy?


Being constantly tired. During pregnancy and the year after. I also had issues with swollen feet during the last pregnancy months and couldn't wear any shoes. Luckily it was summer outside.

During birth, I teared quite a bit and the doctor told me to wait at least 9 months before I could run again. I took long walks everyday to prepare, and when the time was right I just went for it like crazy with fantastic results, but ended up with a fracture on my heal shortly after. Although my condition was good, my body was not ready for it.

I also suffered quite badly from incontinence while running, and had to wear a pad for the first year. When I made stupid jokes about it, I was surprised by how many women who said “welcome to the club!”. It’s normal, so don’t be ashamed.

And honestly, all the challenges are worth it. I would do it all again. It really makes you stronger. To go for a run now, is a no-brainer! I suffered worse, haha.

mother and daughter

Lina is using the Backpack Pro on a daily basis. It allows her to fit running into her busy schedule

 

 

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