Jenny Schatzle

Madeline Mosier Timm

A Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach’s Guide to A Thoughtful Return to Fitness After Baby

EPISODE: 39   |    DATE: April 22, 2021

“There are a lot of new voices coming to the forefront about fitness for women and how it is different and can be approached differently depending on where we are in our hormonal cycles and where we are metabolically. These are new kinds of conversations that are overdue.”

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Key Takeaways

  • Madeline is a former Crossfit competitor and General Manager of a popular Crossfit gym in Los Angeles.
  • When she became pregnant with her first child 6 ½ years ago, it was important to her to maintain her level of fitness as she progressed in her pregnancy.
  • Maddie wasn’t given great guidance from her OBs on what was an appropriate level of fitness to continue during pregnancy (one told her not to lift anything more than 10-15 pounds, the other told her to just do what she was already doing).
  • Maddie made her own modifications naturally as she grew bigger from the pregnancy, but she didn’t have any understanding of her pelvic floor or core, or preserving pelvic health, nor was it ever suggested to her by her care team.
  • Because she wanted to return to the competition floor as soon as possible, Maddie began working on very soon after giving birth to her son. She immediately began experiencing pelvic health issues (in her case, stress incontinence).
  • Everyone told her that stress incontinence was normal and that since she had a baby, this was her new normal. 
  • Maddie continued to train to make the Crossfit team but she didn’t make it. This was a defining moment for her, because from there she had a choice: stop and evaluate what’s going on with her body, or keep going as usual.
  • Maddie chose to take a deep dive into what was happening with her body, and in doing so, she discovered the world of pelvic health. Since then, she has shifted her career and is now a pregnancy and postpartum athleticism coach, helping athletes return to fitness in a thoughtful way.
  • Maddie is clear that an athlete, according to Dr. Stacy Sims, is anyone who moves on purpose. So if you’re a mom, with all that picking up and twisting and lifting and the like, you’re an athlete!
  • Maddie had always identified herself one way as an athlete, but after the birth of her son, she had to redefine what that word meant to her.
  • She ultimately realized that she’s an athlete whether she’s on the competition floor or not.
  • The scope of Maddie’s work is to work with clients in pregnancy and postpartum. She helps clients implement a breath strategy to manage intra abdominal pressure on the pelvic floor, and she works together with a client’s physical therapist to implement recommended movements.
  • Maddie recommends that – if possible – all of her clients also work with a pelvic health physical therapist who can address the neuro muscular skeletal system (nerves, muscles, connective tissue, joints) within the core and pelvis. Maddie takes the recommendations from the PT and then builds out a unique program for each individual client based on their needs.
  • Maddie recommends that every woman see a pelvic health physical therapist during pregnancy.
  • Maddie is really passionate about scar massage and how beneficial it can be (you have a scar if you tore during a vaginal delivery and if you had a c section). 
  • Scar tissue can affect the way you move and can pull on your organs and affect movement so it’s important to massage it.
  • You can start with something as light as a feather if the idea of massaging your scar feels too scary. This is to help get that tactile sensation back and being comfortable with touching that area again.
  • Maddie isn’t comfortable with the do’s and dont’s lists you come across on social media when it comes to treating various pelvic health issues, simply because everyone is different and there is no one size fits all. These list can be very damaging to some women and don’t address a woman’s unique body and movement patterns.
  • Maddie believes it’s important for us as women to share our stories and experiences so we can normalize postpartum recovery and bodies.
  • When it comes to fitness, as Dr. Stacy Sims says, women are not small men. And so we need to be working out differently depending on our hormonal cycle and where we are at metabolically. Maddie is very passionate about that because she wants to support her female athletes in the most meaningful way.
  • Another piece of the puzzle for Maddie with her clients is to check in on their emotional state. Because as she says, mindshifting as an athlete is hard enough. Mindshifting when you’re sleep deprived and when you don’t recognize your body anymore is even tougher. So it’s important to check in on mental and emotional health in the postpartum journey. 
  • Maddie doesn’t believe our health care system is set up to support women at this time, particularly postpartum. 
  • With regards to the famous 6 week check up where the doctor gives women the “all clear” to work out and have sex, Maddie wants to define: what does “all clear” mean?
  • In Maddie’s mind, the “all clear” simply should mean that you are clear to begin rehabilitative fitness. 
  • There are general movements and breath connection work that Maddie recommends to her clients in the first few days and weeks postpartum to begin to reconnect with the body, but at 6 weeks, that’s when the rehab work can really begin.
  • It takes some women 6-12 months for their tissues to fully heal, so it’s important to be thoughtful about how to return to fitness.
  • Maddie herself didn’t feel like she was herself again physically until she was 2 years postpartum with both of her children.
  • Maddie’s parting words for today are to give yourself grace, patience and time. This postpartum time is a temporary time in your athleticism. 
  • If you’re looking to return to any sort of performance based fitness, you’ll get there in time, slowly and progressively.
  • If you want to be an athlete for the rest of your life, it’s important to take the time in your postpartum journey to rehabilitate and do it right.
  • Maddie is currently pregnant with her third child and due any day now, so we wish her a healthy and safe delivery! 

About Madeline

Madeline is a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!) a former competitive athlete, has coached CrossFit and other group fitness classes/clients for 9+ years and is a certified Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach. As a P&PA Coach, she provides guidance, support and programming for pregnant athletes and athletes returning to fitness and function postpartum.
Some of her main objectives with clients include not only what movements to adjust in their fitness but how to do so to meet their bodies where they currently are through breath work and prioritization of core and pelvic health. She also focuses on how to manage any existing pelvic health symptoms and as well as mindset adaptability during this temporary season of athleticism so they can be athletes for life.




Resources mentioned in this episode

Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach: Brianna Battles

Book by Stacy Sims: ROAR

Episode with Julie Wiebe, PT, DPT 

Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum Support: Mamaste Fit

Episode with Dr. Breanne Grogan, DPT 

Episode with Tandy Gutierrez of Unicorn Wellness Studio

Book by Alisa Vitti: In The Flo 

Information about the Infradian rhythm

Episode with Dr. Christine Pieton, PT, DPT

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