Postpartum fitness update: 7 months

saggy belly postpartum

On February 22 I posted a few postpartum fitness goals I’d like to accomplish by August. Seven months is still considered postpartum, right? How am I doing now that I have two months (or less) left? Let’s review.

1. Get back to pre-pregnancy weight (143 pounds)

My latest weigh in put me at 150 pounds… still. I’ve pretty much given up on getting back to pre-pregnancy weight by August. Jeff has made great progress in his weight loss, which is higher priority right now. If both of us cut calories, neither of us would be functional enough to keep up with the house and kids. I’m not technically overweight at 150 pounds and 5’5″, just not at my ideal fitness level. My belly still hangs over my pants because there is extra skin. When I was at this weight years ago I wore the exact same style of pants and I didn’t have the overhanging belly.

saggy belly postpartum

Its annoying trying to find pants that fit or wearing a baby carrier with a saggy belly. You can see it overhanging the belt on the carrier here while I puree homemade spaghetti sauce for the kids. The extra skin (and probably a bit of fat too since I’m not super lean) also presents a challenge in visually identifying abnormal abdominal shape or posture.

2. Improve biomechanics

My left sacroiliac (SI) joint has been behaving better since I upped my dead lift and squat weights. Go figure–more weight means things work better.

Carrying kids, both inside and outside, makes me cant my hips in all sorts of strange ways. I usually carry kids on my left hip while I use my right hand to do things. Pregnancy is a hodge podge because I have no control over how baby weight is distributed or what hurts. All of that leads to strength imbalances and less than ideal posture. One of my main motivations in my postpartum fitness routine is to beat the screwed up biomechanics out of myself with lots of proper lifting.

For upper body, I switched to lat pull downs instead of bench row. I need to practice keeping my shoulders down. Neck and shoulder tension has a history of causing migraines for me. Migraines suck, in case anyone hasn’t told you that. I don’t think I hunch or arch my back too much during pregnancy specifically, but immediately postpartum my abs are shot for a bit and it’s hard to stand upright. Lat pull downs make it much more apparent when I hunch my shoulders.

I’ve been using dead bugs to work on stabilizing my abs. I’m a bit paranoid about abdominal work because I can feel a small separation (see diastisis recti) near my belly button, about a finger width. It’s not considered outside of normal bounds, but it also wasn’t there before my pregnancies. With dead bugs I can focus on the exact position of everything from my shoulders to my hips. I recently realized that I wasn’t activating the muscles near the bottom of my ribs enough, so I’m holding 5-10 pounds over my head. Better!

3. 195 lbs deadlift, 115 lbs front squat, 45 lbs bench row, 40 lbs chest press (per hand) assuming 3-5 reps, 3 sets

I’m using Exrx.net to calculate my one-rep max (1RM) for 3 reps and comparing to the 1RM for my current loads.

Dead lift: 155 pounds for 10 reps – goal met.
Squat: front squat is 95 pounds for 8 reps – about 5 pounds shy
Row: bench row is at 35 pounds for 10 reps – surprisingly close, given the number of reps. I haven’t done them in a while.
Chest press: 35 pounds per hand for 10 reps – goal met.

I’m surprised at how close I am to all of these weight lifting goals. I guess I didn’t realize how much extra work I’m doing with 8-10 reps instead of 3-5 reps. I feel like my postpartum fitness journey this time has been more chaotic because I’m home with kids instead of sitting in an office recovering from my workout. I have to design my workouts to fit in the time available and to leave me with enough energy to finish out the day with the kids.

Looking forward, I’m working on designing pregnancy workouts for the different stages of pregnancy. First trimester sickness and exhaustion requires different treatment than third trimester hugeness. Maybe if I have something prepared ahead of time and I don’t have to think about what I’m doing I’ll be more likely to keep up with some sort of exercise. Right?

Look for those workouts here in the next couple of months.

What do you think are the best pregnancy-safe exercises for someone who primarily lifts weight?

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