postpartum journey and struggles

My Postpartum Journey: Newborn, Body, and Fitness Struggles and How I Overcame Them

Postpartum Journey and Struggles: Hard Truth

The months after giving birth are a life changing experience. They are beautiful and mentally and physically exhausting. There’s nothing that can truly prepare you for the postpartum journey you are about to embark on and the struggles you will face.

Many new moms get a false sense of what postpartum will actually be like. You see photoshoots of new moms glowing holding their little one’s miniature hand. Then the amazing before and after’s of losing the baby weight, but no trace of the hard work that it took. You get this vision in your head that once that baby is out, there might be some restless nights, but it’s coos and little cute outfits from then on.  

The hard truth is that from day one and on it’s a roller coaster. It’s adrenaline, tears, and hard work. It’s a journey.

Is it all worth it? 

1000% yes! 

Here is my personal postpartum journey and my struggles with a newborn, my postpartum body, and my fitness. I will also talk about what helped me overcome these struggles. 

*Disclaimer – If you are a postpartum, pregnant or have any other health conditions, make sure you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Content on this blog should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, expertise or treatment.

What to Expect Right After Birth

I had an amazing birth. Like, the most exciting, out of body experience. I will leave all the details for another time, but in short, I decided to do a home birth for my second. 

Our daughter came at about 8pm and I felt great after. Probably better than I did after the birth of my first child. 

Maybe it was the fact that I was in the comfort of my own home or that my body had already been stretched and pushed to this limit before. Or that the birth was faster and there was less tearing than before. Whatever it was, I was feeling very grateful and hopeful for a smooth postpartum recovery.

The thing I noticed right away getting out of bed was the heaviness. It feels like your organs and uterus are just heavy and falling. It’s a crazy feeling and leaves you a little winded and feeling a little bruised. I actually felt it for days after the birth. 

This is why it’s recommended you wear a belly wrap or tight high wasted leggings to hold everything in and help things move back into place during your recovery. I just wore high waisted leggings, but in the future, I would probably try a belly band for extra support.

postpartum belly right after birth
Postpartum belly right after birth

After birthing your belly is still there, it’s just deflated. It’s mushy and squishy and had served a miraculous purpose for the last 9 months. I have so much love and appreciation for it every time I see it like this. 

I immediately wobbled into the bathroom to try to go pee as instructed by my midwife. You always kind of dread the first pee or bowel movement. I always think that the pee will hurt, but it doesn’t. When it comes to bowel movements, I try to eat a high fiber diet and drink lots of water to avoid the constipation some women experience after birth. 

Then there’s the blood. You bleed for weeks after giving birth, it’s like a heavy period. Since it’s not recommended to use tampons or a menstrual cup those first weeks you are wearing a large pad. I even had an adult diaper over that for comfort and so I wouldn’t stain my clothes. 

You may even pass large blood clots. I remember seeing one that scared me, and I immediately sent a picture to my mom. I think the rule of thumb is look out for clots that are larger than a golf ball.

Along with the bleeding you have intense uterine cramping. This is your uterus shrinking back down to its original size. This cramping is intensified with breastfeeding. The cramping is a good thing and will usually last for the first week after birth.

Newborn Struggles

Even after everything I had just been through, I was quite happy with how my body was feeling right after giving birth. However, that first night with my daughter didn’t go as expected.

Struggle From Day One

She latched on just fine which I was thrilled for and I knew she had gotten some good colostrum to fill her tiny belly. I laid her down in her brand-new beautiful bassinet, but she would not go to sleep. 

Everyone says that all newborns do is sleep and I couldn’t even get her to sleep after the most intense day and night of her life. 

I rocked and rocked her and kept trying to feed and hush her, but she just screamed. An hour goes by and my mom, who was there for the birth, came to my rescue to help sooth her. 

We both took turns walking and rocking her in the living room hoping she would calm down, but hours passed, and she just wailed. I just kept thinking, “oh great she must have colic”. 

It had to of been close to 2am now and out of exhaustion I sat down on the couch and put her on my chest. She finally took a rest from crying, latched on, and peacefully passed out. 


I didn’t move from that position out of fear that it would start back up again. My mom propped a pillow behind my back and under my arms and me and my daughter slept our first night together this way.

The following days didn’t look much different. She cried, slept for short bouts, and cluster fed. I could get her to fall asleep by feeding her, but after I laid her down, she would soon be up. This made getting things done very difficult. They always say get things done while baby naps, but what do you do if they don’t? 

A Tiring Routine

This soon became our routine. She would only be able to sleep on me, she refused anyone else, and even though I had built up a hefty breast milk freezer stash, she wanted nothing to do with a bottle or binky.

I quickly became drained by the lack of rest and being on call 24/7. However, I was hopeful that this was all temporary and I just needed to keep going. 

It wasn’t just the lack of rest of that got to me. She had developed another habit that was quite unpredictable and frustrating.

Since she was feeding every hour or less for nourishment and comfort, she would get quite full. This led to her nursing then throwing up large amounts of milk everywhere. 

This happened a couple times a day and this was one thing that would bring me to a breaking point. This was especially true when we woud lay down for bed. She would latch on, fall asleep, and then we would both wake up to her puking all over herself and our bed. 

I caught on soon to this and would lay pads underneath us so I wouldn’t have to change the entire bed. It was hard to avoid in general though since it would mean she would need to take a break from the boob, so we just had to ride it out. 

A Light

About 6 months in and we began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. She started vomiting less, she would let some other people hold her, and she started allowing me to lay her down for day time naps. 

She never did take a bottle or a binky (regardless of how much money I spent on them trying to find the “one”). As she grew, she cried less, stopped vomiting after nursing, and I felt like everything was going to be ok. 

Now that she is 14 months, she still sleeps with me and my husband. She still needs to suckle all night to stay asleep which leads to waking up frequently throughout the night. Our next step is to figure out how to night wean her. Which will be a battle all in its own. 

Newborn Struggles and How I Overcame Them

I felt very overwhelmed with never getting a break and even felt sorry for myself at times. There was feelings of guilt that I couldn’t give my toddler as much attention as I needed and that I couldn’t apply myself to work as much as I needed to. Then there was frustration that I couldn’t have any me time and that my husband couldn’t help as much I needed him to. I just felt like I was barely getting by and more alone than ever. 

postpartum journey and struggles

Feeling Lucky

In those moments I was feeling bad, sorry for myself, or thinking I wasn’t strong enough I started changing how I looked at the situation. I had hope that it would get better as well as started to feel lucky for myself.  

I reminded myself of how lucky I am that I have these beautiful children, that I get to raise them, that my body carried them, that I had a beautiful birth, that I am capable of so much and that I continue to get stronger. 

Every time I reminded myself of this it shined a new light on the darkest days. I would first pick myself up mentally, and then physically. 

Face Challenges Head On

I knew that I needed to establish a new routine. That in order to get things done I needed to face challenges head on instead of avoiding them. 

For example, running errands with the kids. The first time I tried to take my newborn and toddler to the store, I could not get my daughter to stop crying so I ended up just bawling in the car and never entering the store. 

I didn’t let that stop me from trying again and again. It will get better, and you will learn and adapt! 

Facing these challenges head on helped me get back into a routine and feel accomplished again. Even if I knew it would be hard, I didn’t let it slow me down. Instead, I was in my own head cheering myself on.

Baby Wearing

Another thing that helped me was wearing my daughter as much as I could. She thrived with constant contact, and I thrived when I could get things done, it was a win-win! 

I kept baby slings, wraps, carriers, and hip carriers in my car, in my house, or I kept them on. That way if we were out and about or at home and she needed to be held I could carry her and still go about with what I needed to do.

Ask for Help

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Don’t feel like you need to do everything on your own. I started getting better at asking for help from my husband. Whether that was help by giving me 30 minutes to myself or watching our toddler so I could just focus on our newborn. 

Postpartum Body Struggle

With the constant nursing came an insane milk supply. I was happy about how well established my supply was, until it was too much, and I was constantly full. This led to not only her vomiting, but also getting mastitis a few times. 


The first of my postpartum body struggles came a few days into my postpartum journey – I got mastitis.

I was eager to start a good milk supply, so a couple days after giving birth I had one or two pumping sessions. I couldn’t pump much out, but when my milk did come in, it came with a vengeance. 

It started with engorgement, which led to a fever, extreme breast pain, fatigue, and body aches. This made feeding her very painful, but I also knew it was necessary to help work out the infection. 

I remember just lying in a hot bath, trying to massage the milk out while crying. I was so scared that I would lose my milk supply completely and not be able to provide that for her. 

Breastfeeding meant so much to me and I felt like week one I was already failing. Luckily with lots of hot compresses, breastfeeding nonstop, and breast tissue massages I was able to release the blockage and my symptoms dissipated. 

In the future, I will wait to pump until after my milk supply has come in. This is so that my body can adjust to baby’s needs first, instead of thinking it needs to overproduce. 

After I recovered from this, I was ready to just not have to worry about anything else. However, a couple months postpartum and I noticed something else strange. 


About 2 months after giving birth, I noticed something strange. When I would pick things up, like my toddler out of a highchair, I noticed a pulling sensation in my stomach. This led me to palpitating my stomach, finding a bulge by my belly button, googling, then crying all night long. I thought next stop for me would be surgery and a long recovery.

I knew for my own peace of mind, I needed to make an appointment with a physician. It was a quick confirmation by my physician that it was a hernia, but nothing to worry about. 

Umbilical hernias are the most common type of hernias for women to develop during and after pregnancy due to increased intraabdominal pressure. 

She advised me that it’s something that I could surgically repair if it bothers me, but it’s recommended to do so after you are done having children. 

I don’t know when I developed the hernia, but I knew I needed to better manage the pressure in my abdomen to not worsen it or cause pain. I needed to take exercising postpartum more seriously and educate myself on how to do it safely. 

Weight Gain

After going through my last postpartum weight loss journey with my first child I did expect there to be struggles. I was right. However, I didn’t expect to gain weight.

Since I didn’t want to go through the same grueling postpartum weight loss process I did with my first, I was very conscience of my weight gain during pregnancy. 

I gained a total of 30lb, which half was lost right after birth. Then a couple weeks later I was about 7 pounds away from my prepregnancy weight. 

This made me so happy!

A couple months go by, and my weight quickly increased by 8lb. As you can guess I was very discouraged by this. 

I think a lot of factors played into this rapid weight gain. I was getting little sleep, I was more stressed than normal, I couldn’t make time for myself to help reduce stress, routine was nonexistent, and I was breastfeeding a lot (which increased hunger and arguably held onto fat stores). 

Though it frustrated me, I tried not to give it negative attention and to continue letting my body run its course. I also focused on doing things that were in my control, like practicing daily healthy habits.

Postpartum Fitness 

As I mentioned above, I struggled with making time for myself. I had found ways to do so with a toddler, but with a newborn who needed that constant contact I found it extremely difficult to develop a routine for myself. 

Even so, I knew the importance of making time regardless of how little me time it felt like I had. 

How I Progressed My Postpartum Fitness

Let’s rewind back to where my postpartum fitness routine began. 

I started very small 1-2 weeks after giving birth. This looked like working on my connection breath (to help rehab deep core and pelvic floor muscles). 

I remember laying on my back and filling my lungs with air and then exhaling and trying to engage those deep core muscles only to not feel anything at all. These muscles were either too weak or I just couldn’t connect to them at all! 

This was very humbling for me and lit a fire inside me to get this strength back.

The video below was taken three weeks postpartum demonstrating the connection breath.

Performing the connection breath as first exercise after birth

I continued to practice this daily and started walking on the treadmill for short bouts. Then about 4-6 weeks in I moved into some bodyweight and light dumbbell strengthening.

Once I felt comfortable with this, about 8 weeks postpartum, I started reintroducing barbell exercises. No matter what type of exercise I was doing I was paying more attention to abdominal pressure. I made sure I was breathing properly and not having any coning appear between my abdominals. 

6 months or so later I got serious about increasing my strength. I dedicated myself to a resistance training program 4x a week and my strength increased, and I started to see my weight finally move down.  

Before and after postpartum weight loss
4 months postpartum and 10 months postpartum

Postpartum Fitness Struggles and How I Overcame Them

I had many struggles with my postpartum fitness journey, but the biggest one was probably making the time. 

Something is Better Than Nothing Mentality

I had trouble breaking the all or nothing mentality at first. It was either I had a great workout, distraction free and intense, or I might as well not do one at all. 

I quickly broke this for my own sanity. There was no such thing as a distraction free workout for me. And as for intensity, what I most needed at this time was intentional movement. 

So I did my floor exercises, and graduated to quick YouTube workout videos and my own circuits in my living room. Every now and again I would get to work out in a gym with the kids or by myself and that felt like a treat. 

A lot of the time I would get one or two exercises in and I would have to stop to a waking or hungry baby. Most days I just tried to work with what I had and what I could do.  

Looking back this was the best thing I could have done. Though it felt like it didn’t have a big impact physically, what it did was it made a big impact mentally.

It gave me the me time I so needed, and it also helped build the foundational habit that made exercise routine. The more I practiced discipline and followed through, the more motivated I was to keep going regardless of not seeing any physical result.

Changing The Goal Post

Starting my postpartum fitness journey, I was eager to lose the weight and to regain my prepregnancy strength in the gym.

I soon realized these goals weren’t going to make as much sense for me with where I was at physically in my journey. So, I changed the goal post.

Since I had gained weight that I couldn’t get to budge sustainably, I focused on building healthy eating habits that would help me lose weight once my body would allow it. 

Eating habits that would make me feel better, allow me to honor my body, keep up my milk supply, and fuel my workouts.

Some of these habits I had already been practicing, but some I wasn’t as good at being consistent with, like eating more fruits and vegetables. So, I made it my job to find ways to make this a part of my everyday routine!

Another thing that caused me to shift my goals was – the hernia. I scaled back the amount of weight I was lifting and started to refocus energy towards rebuilding my core instead. 

This was very difficult for me because hitting PR’s is what motivates me. But I knew in the long run rehabbing my core would make me stronger. So, I spent a lot of time retraining my deep core muscles. I progressed weight slowly and cautiously, and implemented a weight training belt, and I now feel comfortable hitting heavier weights.

My Postpartum Journey and Struggles and How I Overcame Them Conclusion

Those first 6 months were some of the most difficult months for me. It was a physical and emotional journey. I had to learn how to shift my mindset and move the goal post when it came to my fitness. 

I am very grateful for my experience. Even if in the moment I wanted time to move faster. Now, I wish I could go back and relive those first months with my newborn. 

Every postpartum journey comes with its own struggles and circumstances. If you are experiencing any of the same struggles now or different ones, just know it will pass. 

Just know you are not alone. You will feel like yourself again, you will be stronger for going through it, and you will be forever humbled by your journey. Just keep going, mama. You’ve got this!

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