How my post partum depression led to a fit second pregnancy

There are a lot of super slender ladies with belly bumps and advice on how to have a fit pregnancy. The mom who at six months pregnant just looks like she had a large burrito is especially mind boggling to me. Each body is different and if you already had a good exercise routine before your pregnancy, chances are, you know what you need to do to stay healthy throughout your 9 months and recover after baby is born. 

I was not that mom. 6 months before my wedding I tore my ACL and meniscus in an indoor soccer game, putting me on the couch until I could get the opinion of an orthopedic doctor regarding surgery. I was lucky and determined to stay in shape for the wedding. Instead of surgery I got physical therapy and worked my butt off for 4 months to be able to walk down the aisle and enjoy our Aruban honeymoon. 

A month after the wedding, a thin blue line appeared on a pregnancy test and I was faced with a whole new challenge. My first pregnancy was tough. I was nauseous, dizzy, in danger of fainting and  incredibly depressed. I abandoned workouts because I was struggling and decided to eat my way through my pregnancy once the constant nausea passed. 

My last trimester

In my last trimester I must’ve gained 40 or 50 pounds. All these other moms were discussing losing their baby weight by breastfeeding and here I was, experiencing supply issues, still struggling with depression, and continuing to gain weight. I remember having a breakdown at Chico’s when the sales associate was trying to help me find something- anything- that I would like to wear. New clothes weren’t the answer, even though I fit into nothing in my closet. 

When Obi was 3 months I made it back to the soccer field but my knees weren’t used to so much weight and the pain was excruciating. A month went by and the pain subsided. Breastfeeding got easier but the depression got worse and the anxiety led to panic attacks and complete breakdowns at pumpkin patches and ramen restaurants. 

At 4 and a half months, Obi decided he wanted formula instead of breastmilk and  I was relieved. And ashamed. But I went to see my doctor and discussed my emotional issues and he diagnosed me with post partum depression. Things changed drastically after I started taking anti depressants and Xanax for the anxiety. I had control of my emotions and with regular soccer games, a Y membership and better grasp on my own abilities as a mom, I started to feel better and more in control of my emotions. 

When I discovered that I was pregnant again, I knew that I couldn’t let things deteriorate. I have a toddler relying on me and couldn’t allow my depression to get the better of me. Since I didn’t want to risk the health of Baby #2 I decided that eating right and regular exercise would have to be my anti depressant, until I could discuss my options with my doctor. 

The YMCA offers a free program called Kickstarter that allows you to meet with a trainer to set an exercise plan. Although I played soccer through my first trimester, I knew that I would have to stop. So I met with Dale at the Toby Wells Y and we set an exercise plan I could do throughout the pregnancy. 

Weight Room at the Toby Wells Y

After 20-60 minutes of cardio, I do 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each of these machines:

  • Chest press
  • Shoulder press
  • Lat pull down
  • Lat row
  • Pectoral Fly
  • Deltoid Fly
  • Squats on a Total Gym incline machine
  • Adductor (inner thigh)
  • Abductor (outer quad/hips

the abductor machine
my workout worksheet

Additionally, I add leg lifts and planks at home when I have time. I have also added lap swimming if my knees or back are hurting too much. 

Now, my OB/gyn isn’t fixated on my weight, although I felt I was overweight, and he is supportive of my exercise routine. And I have seen results: I have lost 20lbs in 5 months. The baby is healthy, with a strong heartbeat and growing on track. 

Post partum depression is a serious issue though, and I plan to go to the group support that is offered through my hospital, and will breastfeed as long as I can before I go back on my medications. At the end of the day I need to be healthy and happy as much as my kids need to be, right? 


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