my 6- month PDB (post-delivery body)

Hi friends. Since Miss P is just over 6 months, I thought I’d write a little bit about my postpartum experience thus far since I discussed it after Liv’s birth.

At 6 months post-birth, mentally, I feel better than I could have imagined.

the fam

More on all of that in a sec. 🙂

Physically, I feel lightyears behind my initial expectations. I also didn’t expect to spend most of the postpartum period recovering from my own medical issues. To be totally honest, I’ve felt like the UNFitnessista for quite a while. 😉

cool split bro

(I had no idea what to do with my hand haha)

I feel very aware that my muscle density and overall fitness level is down. It’s NBD because when I’m healed and cleared (starting today I can do cardio, core and legs again- wahoo!), I can get back into the swing of things. As far as physical fitness goes, if you asked me to sprint up a hill (<— an athletic endeavor that would usually be doable, and fun in a weird way) I’d probably start sputtering and hacking at the top. While it’s expected, it’s also an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling (especially with the knowledge that I’ll be back to teaching before long which tends to be fairly tasking).

After P’s birth, I was excited to resume my fitness activities and reclaim my speed, jumping power, and strength. I thought that by the time I wrote this update, I’d be feeling like I did when Liv was 6 months old. Back then, I was back into my full teaching schedule, taking yoga with friends, and feeling pretty much “healed” from the birth. Of course, during that time, I was also still suffering from severe anxiety and what was later determined as undiagnosed depression. This time, the depression is gone and I feel awesome. I haven’t put on a pair of sneakers in… a long time. Of course, I’d much rather be in a happy place and know that fitness is waiting for me, rather than going through the motions and silently suffering.

Still, I found myself frustrated by the continuous, yet minor (thank goodness) setbacks. Shortly after P was born, the severe reflux began. I talk a lot about it in this post. My #1 priority: taking care our daughters and working to minimize P’s discomfort, and keep her safe from choking. Next, my own medical issues began and I slipped from doing ok, and “hanging in there,” to the lowest point, mentally. The first hurdle was with having to quit breastfeeding (which was sad for me, but I was happy to do what P needed), and then the prolapse which turned out to be not as servere as initially diagnosed and is virtually a non-issue now. My pain/discomfort was related to another issue from the birth and the consequences of pushing out a giant baby quickly + not being repaired properly. Next, it was the countless specialist appointments and physical therapy visits in addition to P’s bi-weekly pediatrician checkups. It was very overwhelming. Thankfully, most of her issues have been resolved. Now, P is doing amazingly, and I had an incredible surgeon who has fixed the post-birth repair problem, and given me the capability to truly heal from the birth.

Finally, I had nerve repair surgery from severing my digital nerve over a year ago. Both surgeries (2 within 2 months) are behind me, and I’m so thankful for an awesome medical team. I found out today that I had a 1cm neuroma (bundled nerves) that had to be removed. Had I let it continue to grow, the pain would have become worse and my movement would have been dramatically hindered over time, so I’m really happy I had it done.

Since I’ve spent so much time healing, I’ve been inactive for 3 out of the past 6 months. 3 solid months + physical restrictions while I was pregnant. When you’ve been working out around 4-5x a week for over 15 years, that’s a long time to be out for the count.

Even though I missed taking fitness classes, connecting with my fitness students, and pushing myself in my own workouts, there were some blessings to come out of this entire situation.

1) It forced me to really dive in and learn about issues that affect so many women that no one discusses. It’s not really proper to say “Let me tell you about my vag!” when someone asks how you’re doing after a birth.  Because of the initial prolapse scare, I have done a TON of researching, reading, and learning from my pelvic floor physical therapist. I can now share this knowledge on the PBB blog, in my fitness classes (indirectly, by encouraging breath work and engaging the transverse abdominis), and I feel like it has made me a stronger fitness resource. I want to be able to share my love of fitness with others and encourage fitness longevity. It’s important to be able to safely perform the things you enjoy for the long haul. Pelvic floor health is an enormous piece of the puzzle, and dramatically affects quality of life.

2) This gave me the chance to focus on getting these issues resolved -I delayed a 3rd opinion on my hand because the other doctors told me “too bad, so sad.” This neurosurgeon instantly said, “I can fix it, and you won’t be in pain anymore.”- and also settle in to understand and enjoy my role as a mom of two. I didn’t have a lot of other distractions, and I think this immensely improved my mental outlook. With my postpartum depression and everything going on, I was feeling very down, broken, and like there was a black cloud over me. I committed to myself to get the help I needed, and focused on finding joy with my family. It is remarkable how much better I feel this time around. I always knew I loved being a mom, but I feel like it’s now in vibrant color instead of the initial postpartum cloud overcast. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this good, and it made me feel like I stole some of this experience from myself when Liv was little. Of course I enjoyed it and was head over heels in love with her, but I still felt pretty terrible, mostly about myself and my capabilities. If you’re suffering from depression and/or anxiety, please check out this post and talk to someone. You owe it to yourself, and you don’t have to suffer anymore. 

3) It reminded me that fitness doesn’t dictate my life, but it greatly enhances it. I can do without working out; I did it for 3 whole months. But, I totally missed it. I missed the high of teaching a packed spin class, the solitude of a long run, the sweaty and peaceful savasana, my legs shaking in barre, and the feeling of picking up a heavier set of dumbbells. After this whole experience, I’m excited to bring the things I enjoy back into my life with open arms. Teaching fitness and working out doesn’t define me, but it is something that I truly enjoy. 

For the first time in a long time, I’m going to have to start a new routine. I’ll be figuring out how to fit fitness back into my life (teaching usually helps with this) and setting up a plan to get safely back into it. I’ll be using a lot of the PBB workouts to build my strength back up, since I already spent a lot of time compiling the workouts to ensure safety. 

Who knows, maybe by 9 months, I’ll be feeling like the kinda-Fitnessista again. 😉 Thank you for hanging out with me during the great fitness drought. I’m excited to have some new inspiration for the blog, and thank you as always, for hanging out with me over here.

 

 

More:

After Liv’s birth:

2 weeks

2 months

4 months

9 months

After P’s birth

6 weeks

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Comments

  1. This is a great post and I so appreciate your honesty. I also love the humor & perspective you provide and am happy to see the progress as things improve.

  2. You have gone through so much, Gina. Yet you continue to be a positive resource for everyone. And I LOVE that you’ve learned a ton of helpful information along the way people aren’t really opening talk about, which you continue to share. Here’s hoping you are DONE with all of your surgeries and ailments for a while. And hey, fitness will always be waiting for you when you’re ready for it. Love ya, friend! P and L are LUCKY to have you as a Momma.

  3. Gosh I’m still trying to sort it all out… little one is 8 months old. This mom thing changes everything. … but mostly in wonderful ways.

  4. You look so wonderful in that first picture. It goes to show was mental health and confidence can do for our physical health, as well. I’m so happy that you’re in a good spot.

  5. Stacy Bailey says:

    Thank you so much for being so honest and open with your readers. My husband and I don’t plan on having a baby for another year or two, but something I worry about is how my current depression and anxiety will effect me during pregnancy and after. I’m so scared of it amplifying, but I guess I’ll see when I get there and do what you did- plan, prepare, plan more, prepare more, and talk about it.

    I’ve read your blog since about 2009 and it’s a privledge and pleasure to be inspired by you 🙂

    • Fitnessista says:

      thank you so much for reading for so long and for the sweet comments
      it’s scary, especially since you know what it feels like to have experienced it. the best thing you can do is round up your resources, and get help if it happens. sometimes it doesn’t!
      xoxo

  6. I’ve been a reader since 2011 and always look forward to your posts. Thank you for being real and talking about the not so pretty stuff people fail to talk about! You are helping more fellow moms and women than you know. I am so glad you are starting to feel better and you will always be a “Fitnessista” in my book!

  7. Your third point is something I’m currently working on as well. For so long, after recovering from an eating disorder, I didn’t think I could be an active human being. Then, i started to feel apathetic and lazy, but I didn’t know if I could go back to exercising. Now, I’m starting to find the balance between it all. I’m realizing that exercise is good for me as long as I don’t let it be the center of my world. Love these words and love your honesty, Gina!

  8. I can’t believe pelvic floor health isn’t discussed more before/during/after pregnancy! You basically hear, “do your kegels!” and that’s that, when really there is so much more. Thanks for being honest about it. I found a great pelvic floor physical therapist (who knew those even existed??) and now know what to do the second time around, but I really wish I would have heard the information earlier!

  9. I love you so much Lady. Thank you for sharing this – SO MANY WOMEN need to hear about your Vag! Really! It is just not spoken about enough, and it is such a shame and totally unnecessary to suffer in silence. I am so glad that you were able to get the care you needed, and that you are recovering. Again, thank you for always sharing your insights with us, and for allowing yourself to see your experiences as opportunities to grow and learn more about yourself and life. Such a key to happiness right there! <3

  10. This is so wonderful to hear. I’m 3.5 months pp with my second and feel exactly the same – I am LOVING life this time around. The cloud overshadowing is a perfect analogy for how I felt after the first baby was born, and spot on about letting that mama guilt creep in about how I felt in the first 9 months of her life. But this time around I built my village and did a lot of preparation/therapy and I’m just elated these days (ya know aside from typical kid stuff like tantrums lol). So happy for you and thanks for sharing. PS I’m one of the people that was thrilled you were looking into Katy Bowman’s work so I’d love an update on your research there soon!!! ☺️

    • Fitnessista says:

      thank you so much, friend!
      i can definitely post some of her links and resources i’ve enjoyed! i’m not sure if i want to paraphrase her work, because she explains everything so well (and hilariously) 🙂

      • Oh exactly, I agree…I meant more so your takeaways from it and how it’s impacted your thoughts or ways of doing things. I fell down the rabbit hole a couple of years ago and it’s made me question lots of things!!

  11. Melissa says:

    thank you for sharing…

    xo

  12. And I thought I had it bad! I had a small baby but a 4th degree tear and was sent home on a catheter. It took a year to heal and 5 years later I still have some problems. I also suffered from postpartum ocd and was hospitalized as a threat to my own child and self. It was a crazy time but thanks for posting and putting this out and here for everyone. You are very brave and strong!!

    • Fitnessista says:

      that sounds ROUGH. i’m sorry to hear you went through all of that and are still having problems 🙁 i hope it turns around for you

  13. Long time reader…but I rarely ever comment. I really, really LOVE this post. Thank you for being so open and honest about the specific hurdles you’ve faced postpartum. I have two girls pretty close in age. The youngest is now almost seventeen months…and I’m still not where I thought I would be with fitness and body. Sometimes I’m completely ok with it—taking care of two tiny humans is absolutely exhausting; and there have been some huge obstacles, especially with the now toddler (severe reflux, food sensitivities, still not doing great with sleep, etc). BUT sometimes I’m completely frustrated with where I’m at physically. It’s refreshing and healing to hear your honest and open experiences. Thank you!

    • Fitnessista says:

      thank you so much, friend. and you’re right: taking care of two little ones is amazing, but takes everything out of you. right now i’m like “how did i have time to work out before?” haha

  14. WOW!! To me all mums are heroes! I so wanted a little one as well but it is so scary…. But then you see this happy smiling face and your heart melts!

  15. GREAT post mama! And all of it is so true. I went through PPD with my first but never got any help for it. Looking back of course I wish I would have. I felt so “out of myself”. With the other 2, I knew what it was and how to deal with it.

  16. Thank you for sharing. This really resonated with me. I have 2-year-old and 10-week-old daughters. I feel SO good mentally this time around and have really been able to enjoy this itty bitty baby phase. It makes me realize that I was a bit of a mess with my first and that it probably wasn’t normal (well, normal perhaps but could have been so much better!). I’m so happy that I feel so great this time, but also sad that I didn’t feel this way with my first. But what is motherhood if not trial & error? Sending positive vibes to you as you continue to heal and get back into your fitness groove.

  17. Marissa says:

    Thanks for always being open and honest about these things. So glad to hear you’re feeling better mentally and emotionally this time! Would you be willing to write a post sometime about fitness recommendations while trying to conceive?

  18. I love how open and honest your posts are! I don’t have any kids but I feel like this is such a truthful post that I know I’ll appreciate even more in the future. Wishing you all the best!

  19. Kristin says:

    I don’t know if you ever get a chance to respond to these comments, but if you do I would LOVE to hear your advice on whether there is anything to do to prepare the pelvic floor pre-pregnancy or anything you wished you would have done prior to either birth.

    Like the other readers I love reading your post and thank you for all that you offer. I can’t imagine that it’s always easy to share so openly but I hope you know what a difference you make in your readers’ lives.

    • Fitnessista says:

      hi kristin!
      i try to respond to all comments! this week i haven’t done so well, though.
      i wish i would have met with a physical therapist the first time around. even i would have had to pay out of pocket, it would have been worth it to me.
      some major things:
      focus on breath. when you breathe in, your belly should expand (not your chest) and as you exhale, you should pull your core and pelvic floor gently up and in. many of us naturally do the opposite! i would also work on coughing and sneezing. when many of us cough or sneeze (i have loud horrifying sneezes) everything pushes out. instead try to pull your core in and engage the pelvic floor on the exhale (sneeze or cough)
      it’s really important to see a PT because overtight muscles can be as much as a problem as muscles that are too weak. they can determine what’s going on individually and also make sure that you’re properly contracting your pelvic floor. if you do it incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good
      xoox

  20. Rosamund says:

    Thanks for this post! It is so important to remember to listen to our bodies. I am taking a break from my heavy weights and cardio sessions after some health issues which have led to amenorrhea. I really miss working out, but need posts like this to remind me that there are more important things – and that fitness doesn’t dictate my life! I always find it funny how if a friend was going through something like this we would tell them to take a break from exercise without question, but it’s hard to listen to our own advice.
    So thanks for this, you reminded me that it’s okay to take a break and focus on our health 😀 Not to mention, it’s good to take a step back sometimes and get hungry for those workouts!

  21. It’s so great that you are putting your overall health first rather than pushing your fitness limits, and it’s even better that you’re spreading that positive attitude to your readers – thank you! Hang in there and you’ll be back on top of your fitness game before you know it <3

  22. Everything you’ve described from the time after P was born seems like so much to handle. You’ve done a great job. I know I would be a royal mess. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  23. You are a rockstar!!! Thanks for sharing your story because I think more people go through these issues than we think. People just don’t openly talk about them. Keep getting better and you will be back in the workout world soon enough!!

  24. Wow Gina, that’s so much to go through in such a short time! I’m glad you’re doing much better mentally. Depression and anxiety can create a mental fog, and I’m so glad you shared a bit of what you went through to get the help you needed and encouraged others to as well!
    Also, YAY for working out!! I’m in a similar boat; tomorrow, I get outa school, am done with being sedentary studying, and get to go back to OTF!! Happy (almost) weekend!

  25. Juliana says:

    So, I realize these are not the same things at all to go through, but not long after you had miss, P I got hit by a car, injured, and had to take 6 weeks off from doing pretty much anything. I was super unhappy about it (I mean, who likes being hit by a car?) and excited to get back into doing ALL THE THINGS, and of course I ended up re-injuring myself by doing too much too soon. I’ve only recently been able to start doing stuff like walking long distances and trying out yoga. I feel kind of weird saying this, but it’s been comforting to read your blog when you too have had activity restrictions in addition to everything else going on. I love your reminders to still be grateful, even though sometimes I really want to be grumpy because I gained some weight and probably won’t be able to run a half marathon or go to barre class anytime in the near future. I appreciate how hard it can be to stay positive sometimes, and admire you for always managing to.

    • Fitnessista says:

      oh man. i’m so sorry to hear you’ve gone through all of that! i hope you’re feeling better each day. i’ll be thinking about you.
      totally get what you’re saying about the comfort. it sucks that other people go through similar things, but it’s reassuring to hear you aren’t alone in your frustration
      sending healing vibes to you!

  26. adrianna says:

    what a great post! i don’t have kids, don’t want them, am super single yada yada, BUT it is so lovely, inspiring, informative to visit this site…truly, genuine and well, i just love it 🙂 keep up the awesome work– mom-ing, blogging, fitness-ing!

  27. So happy all of that is behind you! I’m kind of in a slump right now with obvious 3rd trimester limitations and I feel like it’s hard to do my job but I’m trying to keep on trucking. I can’t WAIT to be sweaty again!!

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