Postpartum: The Gift of Rebuilding

I was an in-season, Division 1 pole vaulter when I found out I was pregnant.  People told me my Olympic dreams were over.  They said your body will never be the same after birth. You blew your chance.

As a young, misinformed mother, I rushed through that first postpartum experience to prove everyone wrong.  I had to return to competing as fast as possible.  It was a time to push harder, be more disciplined, and get back on the runway.

With this mindset, it took years to actually heal—not just physically either.  On top of core and pelvic floor dysfunction, I was depressed and had all kinds of disordered eating habits.  I didn’t see postpartum as a time to rebuild; I saw it as an unwanted obstacle to overcome.

Returning to basics allows an athlete the opportunity to rewrite old programming and come back stronger.  I didn’t get that my first postpartum.  In fact, through my rushing, I made the recovery process 2-3x longer (hence the origin of “fast is slow”).  

Postpartum is an athlete’s gift.  How many non-injured athletes take the time to return to basics?  Most athletes think they do, but very few actually go back to their breath, their posture, and their strategy for creating core stability.  THIS is where #gainz happen and the Universe just dropped this gift in your lap (along with a super sweet and squishy babe)!

My postpartum mindset changed drastically after my first experience.  I actually looked forward to this rehabilitative time.  During my second postpartum, I chose to take on breathing during workouts and performing body weight movements with more control.  During my third postpartum, I took on intra-abdominal pressure and my squat.

Right now, I’m 13 months postpartum and stronger than I’ve ever been.  I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally a better athlete for having had the gift of postpartum.


Melissa Hemphill, M.S. @melissahemphill


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