The post-partum journey: “Everything has changed. Except my love for cycling.”
Juli is a passionate cyclist, triathlete, and mother to a new-born. During her pregnancy, she continued cycling all the way (read more about it here). Now, a bit more than two months after giving birth, she shares her post-partum journey with us.
I am now two months into this new version of my life. A lot of people told me that everything would change. My whole life would be different. My interests would change. I would not want to miss any second of the mini human and would not want to ride for hours on my bike or do the sports I do. Yes – everything has changed. Except my love for cycling
So how did I start the recovery?
Because I am recovering post-partum, I had to start with a none-cycling related fitness recovery before even getting on my bike. Otherwise, I could harm my body instead of supporting the healing process. For the first two weeks after giving birth that meant to just breath properly. This might seem like exaggerating, but it is true. Gaining core stability is always important, but essential post-partum. Breathing properly means to engage all your core muscles while breathing, not only the abdominal muscles but also your pelvic floor and diaphragm. All three parts are necessary to get yourself back into shape and form. Because weaknesses in one of these parts lead to leaking, back pain and more. Nothing I wanted to risk. I had to hold myself back, because I felt fine after three days and wanted to do almost everything I would normally be capable of :-)
Being active keeps me going physically and mentally
After two weeks of only breathing and walking around I felt the inner unrest increasing to get on to my bike. I checked with my midwife if I could take a small ride. Luckily, she gave me a “go”, because she knew that as a fit person it might actually harm me more to refrain from doing what I usually do.
So I took my bike and was luckily joined by Lulu for my first post-partum loop. It was neither fast nor long, but it was plenty for me. I returned with burning legs and a bright smile across my face. It was exactly what I needed. Afterwards I embraced the mini human and thought how cool it is being able to do both. Take care of my own needs and the needs of the mini human. Because my health is essential to his. A major part of my health is to be active. This keeps me going physically and mentally.
The rides following that have been a bigger struggle, because I still need to figure out this new situation. Every day is new and different. Nothing can be considered a constant habit. There is no way of having a fixed timeslot for my rides. I can’t just grab my bike, there is no simple “sun’s out, gun’s out” for me. I have to plan every ride at the beginning of the week, because someone has to take care of the mini human. I can’t just leave him alone. This has two down sides. One, I don’t get to choose the weather and two, I don’t know if the mini human agrees with me.
It's not perfect. Every day is a new challenge.
The reality looks like this: Five minutes before I left for the first ride on my own the mini human screamed for food, although I checked that before. I had to give him the extra portion of what he longed for. That meant that my time frame became tighter, and I hustled out on to my bike. 20 minutes into my ride I realized that I had forgotten to fill the water bottles… on one of the hottest days in March of 2021. I laughed at myself, did the ride anyway and felt amazing afterwards, but promised myself to do better next time. The next planned ride was during pouring rain. But I had to go out. There was no rescheduling. I swapped my road bike for the cross bike and did the ride. I played in the mud. It was what I needed that day because I was stressed out. Afterwards I just felt relaxed and at peace again.
So how is it going? It is not perfect, but quite frankly my life never was. Every day is a new challenge. But taking my bike for a loop from time to time gives me the energy to face those challenges. I’m starting to love every minute or hour even more, because these are the rare moments that I have for myself.
So did I stop cycling because that inner voice stopped calling for it? Nope, not at all. I am still me, I am still a cyclist and I still love sports - but with a mini human as a sidekick.
Follow Juli’s post-partum journey on her Instagram and stay tuned for more updates in our Journal.