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Postpartum climbing in eight steps

Rumi in a basket, Babydaddy belaying, a couple weeks postpartum, cr. Aaron Vargas Rourke

fueling up before Rumi's first outdoor climbing session, ten days old, Exit 38

Go early, go often: Because many women experience a decrease in the plasma that lent pregnant climbing unpumpability, tell your body you still need that plasma by returning to the gym soon after birth. Once your body and mind feel ready, head to your local climbing gym or crag. Even though you're super-motivated and well-rested, keep your first session postpartum at a recovery pace.

What about the six week wait?: Though many people, professional or peanut gallery, insist on a strict six-week wait before training postpartum, this is not a universal requirement. I went into labor while climbing at the gym and returned to climbing three days postpartum - all while recovering at a clip. Others may want to wait to train postpartum for much longer than six weeks based on their birth experience and level of fatigue. Listen to no one but your own inner voice when it comes to recovery and training.

mobile pumping at an obscure crag, Marcus

Sahrmann exercises: Before bearing down on tough crimps, I was sure I'd completed my Sahrmann abdominal rehabilitation exercises. These simple exercises challenge and evaluate the status of the postpartum athlete's deep core - including pelvic floor and transverse abdominus.

Mobile pumping: In order to extend your session beyond the brief intervals between feedings, get a manual pump. This one worked great for me. You're welcome. 

first postpartum trad lead, Joshua Tree

Find a third: If your babe will join you at the gym or crag, it will be easier to have a third climber/belayer/baby holder present. Only close friends who enjoy babies qualify. Pay them with gratitude and a few extra laps.

Or get thee an IKEA bag: If said babe is rather docile, as Rumi was as a newborn, get a big, blue IKEA bag, pack it with blankets, tuck it away in a safe spot (out of risk of rockfall or other hazards), and let your kiddo nap while you send. At the first sign of fussing, lower and give her the boob.

Climb without your child, too: However convenient and cost-effective climbing with your baby might be, for you to truly focus and progress as an athlete you'll need sessions sans baby as well. I give you blanket permission to treat your child-free training sessions with as much importance as your paid work. Go on, leave that little chub to your partner, your parents, or a friend and go drop a knee or two.

Release expectations: But not for the reason you might think: your postpartum performance WILL impress you beyond expectations. Afterall, you've just taken off the progressive weight vest you wore for ten months. 


Read more:

The postpartum athlete

Pregnant rock climbing how to guide

Postpartum running

pregnant ultra running post two