Baby, I’m Coming Back: Postpartum Fitness Weeks 15-18


Baby, I'm Coming Back is a series during which we follow Train Like a Mother Coach MK Fleming as she returns to running shape from having her fourth kid in six years.

Weeks 15-18: Work on balance, hip stability and challenge your TVA a bit. The moves are demonstrated in this video and explained in this PDF you can reference anytime.

Find Weeks 0-6 here; Weeks 6-10 here; Weeks 10-14 here.

Harvey Karp described the Fourth Trimester as the first twelve weeks of a newborn's life. I hate to disagree with medical professionals (since I am totally not one), but this description isn't helpful to new moms. Especially since it lasts 16 weeks.

Here's what I mean: the first 12 weeks are totally a blur of sore boobs no sleep and #allthekegels. Your baby grows exponentially, and a few lucky women will shrink exponentially. Most of you have gone back to work, and many of you have re-joined your weekend run groups occasionally. Life is returning to normal, but as far as your body is concerned nothing has really changed. Week 12 isn't much different from week 13 or 14. It's like they talk about the Fourth Trimester to make new moms feel better about still wearing maternity clothes. I wanna go deeper than that.

The next big change happens to mom,. The change is hormonal, it's noticable, and it happened to me each time around week 16. This is when my muscles finally feel like they are responding to workouts, when my joint laxity is reduced enough I can run without compression pants up to my neck, when my hair start falling out in HUGE clumps in the shower and and still sheds throughout the day, when I can see the light at the end of the maternity tunnel.

This is what I consider to be the end of the Fourth Trimester.

It's tough to articulate how quickly things started coming together. After a weight plateau where I was stuck at 166lbs and managed to re-injure a nerve in my dislocated shoulder, one day I looked in the mirror and noticed an actual waistline. I went to Pilates and came home sore enough to want to foam roll, and noticed more definition in my thighs. I cautiously opened a drawer to see if I could fit into the next size down in pants, and I totally could. Only then did I hop on the scale to see I was finally at 158.

Later that day I was offered a slot in the New York City marathon. Did I want it?

In years past I have JUMPED on this beautiful gift, but this year I paused. Seven months of bed rest is a long time. I am slowly gaining fitness but still have a long way to go. Can I put my Coach hat on and say that I think I'll be ready by November 4 to run 26.2 miles when today I can't go for a stroller walk without my heart rate reaching 150 beats per minute?

Let's look at my running: It took a big hit 4 weeks ago when I re-injured my arm and had to forego running for daily PT sessions. Moving my arm was way too painful for anything more than walking; those 7-minute run intervals I had progressed to in my last post are a distant memory; I'm not sure I could run a mile without stopping and if I did my heart rate wouldn't be below 140.

To be honest, I'm still not sure. I accepted the entry and am officially registered. I can always defer if I have any more setbacks with my recovery  I am averaging 25 miles per week of run/walking and have been in this game long enough to know that the miles per week figure doesn't reflect my fitness level as much as it does my tenacity.

The good news is that my muscles are finally responding to workouts. I am convinced there is a hormone that prevents this from happening in PP Moms, and that it is evolutionary. Imagine having really sore muscles whilst being bone-tired from all the babytending in those first few months. Maybe my Fourth Trimester is shorter since I had to stop breastfeeding or because Violet is already sleeping through the night; maybe your baby is 9 months old and you are still in your Fourth Trimester.

I have no idea where the connection is or how to predict when anyone else's Fifth Trimester will start. All I can tell you is this: give yourself grace, stick with your program, and be as patient with your body as you are that sweet sweet baby.  S/he wants to sleep, walk and run just as much as you do. One day you will wake up and feel power in your legs, and when that day comes I want you to be ready to take advantage of it.

Whether or not you should start marathon training that same day is up to you. I'm currently in week 2 of the Train Like a Mother Incredible Marathon Program, and we will see where we go from here. See you again soon!

In the meantime, work on balance, hip stability and challenge your TVA a bit. The moves are demonstrated in this video and explained in this PDF you can reference anytime.

2 responses to “Baby, I’m Coming Back: Postpartum Fitness Weeks 15-18

  1. Way to go MK! It’s been fun to watch you and learn with you how to come back post-pregnancy. I am in the four kids club, so high fives for our four-leaf clovers!

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