Courtesy of Steph Montgomery
What Happened The First Time I Worked Out Postpartum

by Steph Montgomery

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was working out every single day. I was lucky to be able to stay active throughout my pregnancy, and I hoped that constant activity would aid me in jumping back into my established routine as soon as my midwife gave me the OK. I had no idea what to expect, though, and I was terrified that I was going to make a fool of myself at the gym — a place where I once felt so welcome. Honestly, the first time I worked out after childbirth totally sucked. I didn't realize how much my body had changed until I tried to make it do some of the things it used to. I felt insecure about the fact that I couldn't seem to lose my "baby weight," no matter how much I changed my diet. I was shamed by a group exercise instructor who didn't think I could possibly be in the right class. I also couldn't do everything I used to be able to. It was so completely demoralizing.

After my second child was born, I decided against going to the gym for my first workout. Instead, I decided to do P90X (a weight training and cardio workout DVD that was popular at the time) at home with my husband. I had read somewhere that Paul Ryan had done it, and figured there wasn't anything he could do that I couldn't do better (next stop: Speaker of the House). It was so hard, and I am pretty sure I had more than one out-of-body experience. Still, and while my husband quit after two weeks, I stuck with it until the end (take that Paul Ryan).

This time around, I've been forced to ease back into exercise super slowly by an injury and a traumatic birth. I honestly wish I had done it this way the last two times, though, because OMG I feel so much better and more confident than when I rushed into a routine my body was not ready to handle. I am honest with myself about what I can and can't do, and tell everyone I see at the gym that I just had a baby with pride instead of shame. I encourage every badass new mom to learn from my mistakes and take it easy while they find a new workout routine that works for them.

I Was Terrified

Totally petrified. I had left my baby with my husband alone for the first time since she had come home from the hospital, and drove to the gym where I used to work out every day. I was so worried she might cry the whole time, worried that I wouldn't know what I was doing, and worried that I would hurt myself (or worse, make a fool of myself in public). It was so scary to feel so vulnerable.

I Felt Like A Stranger In My Own Body

My body didn't work right. My breasts were engorged, my pelvis felt like it had been broken in half and put back together again (which makes sense, because it sort of had been), and my once tight abs and butt were so not tight anymore. I totally hated it.

It Hurt

OMG it hurt so bad. Then, I hurt for days afterwards. I almost took leftover narcotics from delivery. It was bad.

I Peed A Little

I'm not ashamed to admit that I peed myself a little. Well, I was ashamed at the time, but now I know that this totally happens to a lot of people after birth, and is nothing to be ashamed of. The good news is that there are pelvic floor exercises you can do to help. One of my girlfriends actually suggested that I try wearing a menstrual cup when I run and do boot camp class. I don't know how it works, but it totally does. This secret is my gift to you, new mamas.

Someone Fat Shamed Me

After my first baby was born, I walked into a boot camp class that I had taken dozens of times before I got pregnant (when I was thin and fit). The instructor literally said to me, "Sweetie, I think you are in the wrong room. You might find this class too hard at your size." He then added, "Yoga is next door."

I wanted to say, "What's wrong with you? This 'fat' body just grew a freaking human, asshole. Can I speak with your manager about that comment? Because, you suck, and as a member here, I deserve better."

What I actually said was, well, nothing. My face flushed, I turned around, and I never returned to that class. Now that I teach boot camp, with that same baby-growing body, I work hard to make sure no one ever feels like this in my classes.

I Looked Down At My Stomach & Cringed

I wish I could say that I fully loved and appreciated my postpartum body, but I'm so not there, yet. To be honest, I still cringe a little bit when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I'm working on it.

I Totally Overdid It

I definitely should have started slow and worked my way up to my pre-baby routine. Instead I did way too much, way too soon. I honestly felt like dying.

I Worried That Everyone Was Staring At Me

I was certain that everyone would stare at me and think to themselves, "What's that fat girl doing here?" Now, I mentally reply, "I'm taking care of this beautiful body."

I Got Soaked

This is probably too much information, but between sweat, breast milk, and the aforementioned pee, I could have wrung out my smelly, soaking wet workout clothes afterwards. Yuck.

I Died

Kidding, you guys. I mean, obviously I am not writing this from the great beyond.

However, it sure as hell felt like I was going to die. Then, the next day, my body was so sore that I legitimately wanted to die. For real, you guys.

I Didn't Quit

There were so many opportunities to phone it in, give up, not show, or walk out of the gym in shame. Instead, I did it. I completed my first postpartum workout. Afterwards, I felt like I could do anything, which is good, because I'm a mom and there are so many times when moms totally have to do it all.

I Was So Badass

As new moms, we put entirely too much pressure on ourselves and each other to lose the "baby weight" and get our bodies back. We often fail to recognize how awesome those bodies (that grew and delivered tiny humans) are, even if they never enter a gym again or never look the same as they did before having babies. Besides, I don't need to get my body back. My postpartum body is my body, and I plan to treat her like the badass she is.