Games Athletes Get Real About Postpartum Experience

October 9, 2020

Nicole Peyton

Perennial Games athletes openly share about their postpartum journeys.

“I was an athlete in my prime, now a mum and on the road to figuring out how to be epic at both.” —2017 second-fittest woman on Earth Kara Saunders 

Continuing CrossFit during pregnancy has long been a hot topic in the world of functional fitness. CrossFit has facilitated much research addressing various ways athletes can maintain efficacy and safety with their CrossFit training when pregnant, assuming pregnant athletes proceed under the instruction of a skilled coach and a supportive care provider. But what happens post-pregnancy, when returning to your fitness regimen can look one of a million different ways? 

The postpartum period of a woman’s life is arguably the most delicate she’ll ever experience. Aside from extreme hormone fluctuations and a disturbed sleep schedule, a woman’s body undergoes a long healing process after giving birth. Organs have shifted and are looking for their permanent places again, weight is fluctuating regularly (hello, new boobs!), and depending on her birth experience, the new mom might be healing from surgery or birth injuries. Not so glamorous, right? Additionally, body-image issues are a common and often overlooked part of the postpartum experience. 

Recently, well-known female athletes in the CrossFit community have openly expressed their struggles with all these issues in the postpartum phase of the birth experience. Even the strongest athletes may find their new life in a postpartum body can pose unique challenges to their mental fortitude. 

Keep reading for some real, raw, and relatable inspiration from some of our favorite moms to see on the competition field. 

The Time Kara Saunders Stripped Down to Her Underwear at Five Weeks Postpartum

Second-fittest woman on Earth in 2017 and longtime fan favorite Kara Saunders gave birth to her baby girl, Scotti, in May 2019. Ever since, Saunders has been open about her postpartum journey, which has included a healthy mix of honesty and self-love. At five days postpartum, she posted on her Instagram that she had begun moving again, but not without noting, “This is not a comeback or a bounce back. This (is) my lifestyle looking after myself so I live a life full of my best days. It’s a constant flow.”

Saunders was candid about the urge to get back to training as hard as she did before being pregnant, but she continued to listen to her body and focus on recovery. 

At five weeks postpartum she danced in nude undies in Sheppard’s music video for “Kiss My Fat Ass,”  becoming an inspiration to postpartum women everywhere. Saunders encourages people to drop the judgment and love themselves. 

The Time Annie Thorisdottir Was Honest About the Struggle Between Expectation and Reality


I have been very honest and upfront about everything on my social media and just because things aren’t going the way I expected them to does not mean I will stop sharing. I think it’s important people see reality as well. ⁣ ⁣ Expectation and reality are not always close to one another. I had somehow imagined a few weeks of easy training and then pick it up right where I left off. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. I had my baby 7 weeks ago and when I look down, I still have a belly. I am not saying that I am not okay with the way that I look, but having been in sports my whole life, I have never seen or felt my body this way, so this feels very different to me. ⁣ ⁣ It’s the weirdest feeling in the stomach after you give birth. There is still a small pregnancy belly but completely soft and empty while organs are moving around trying to get back to place. ⁣ ⁣ Even though it is not going at the speed I want, I know I will get there. I have put my body though a lot through the years and I need to be patient and give it time to heal up and recover. ⁣ ⁣ I realize that my body will most likely never look like it did before and I am ok with that, but my passion to be the best version of myself, both for me and for the people I care about has not changed. Not at all. So I will do everything in my power to shape my body and mind to the standards that I set and get STRONG again, the standards that I know will help me be the best possible me. ❤️

A post shared by Annie Thorisdottir (@anniethorisdottir) on

Two-time CrossFit Games champion Annie Thorisdottir gave birth to her baby girl, Freyja, this August. From the beginning, Thorisdottir has been brutally honest about the gap between expectation and reality when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and beyond. 

She posted shortly after giving birth that her experience did not go “as planned.” And when it came time to get to know her body again, Thorisdottir was candid about her feelings in this post

“I had somehow imagined a few weeks of easy training and then pick it up right where I left off,” Thorisdottir wrote in a recent post. “Well, that’s not exactly what happened. I had my baby 7 weeks ago and when I look down, I still have a belly. I am not saying that I am not okay with the way that I look, but having been in sports my whole life, I have never seen or felt my body this way, so this feels very different to me.“

Thank you, Annie, for your honesty. 

The Time CLB Ditched the Scale 


8 weeks vs 6 weeks postpartum After / before lol “ I haven’t weight myself in 2 weeks and I don’t think I will for an other who knows how long haha! The numbers tend to get to me and it can make me lose focus on what is truly important! I am weighing and measuring my food because it is important to know that I am fueling my body with the right amount of macronutrients to maximize recovery, health and milk production. I am following @feroce_fitness_ program 4 times a week and I am loving how I can just jump right into those workout without much warm-up and I always get exactly the sweat I am looking for even on those days that I am dragging my feet I am mostly tracking how I feel and keeping an eye on my need but not getting emotional (good or bad ) from a number on a stupid scale. I am excited with my progress both physically and mentally! What would you guys like to know about my nutrition,training,recovery etc.?

A post shared by Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (@camillelbaz) on

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, the 2014 CrossFit Games champion, gave birth to her baby girl, Zoe, at 30 weeks gestation, 10 weeks earlier than Zoe was due to arrive. Leblanc-Bazinet and her partner, Dave Lipson, spent countless weeks in the NICU following Zoe’s birth, caring for their baby girl and nursing her to health. 

At eight weeks postpartum, Leblanc-Bazinet got real about the struggle of the scale: “The numbers tend to get to me and it can make me lose focus on what is truly important!” she wrote in a recent post. 

Leblanc-Bazinet has been candid about the battle to remain patient with her body as it heals, and she has been open in sharing how she’s keeping herself and baby girl Zoe healthy with a focus on nutrition and mindset. 

The Time Cassidy Lance-McWherter Snuck in a Workout Between Nursing Sessions 


I gave myself 30 minutes to go outside for a little workout in between nursing, diapers & naps ⁣ ⁣ This is my did first “real” postpartum workout today AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE! ⁣ My back has been really bothering me from sitting and breastfeeding 🤱 so I opt out of my normal banded workouts and tried to move a bit more. I made sure to engage my core and listen to my body for any concerns. ⁣I have my shirt off so you can see my real life postpartum belly. ⁣ 21-15-9⁣ Calorie assault bike (slow)⁣ Plate ground to overhead⁣ Weighted sit-ups ⁣ ⁣ Time: 9:38⁣ ⁣ I’m wearing my nursing bra from @bornprimitive ⁣ ⁣ Now a quick shower and back to nursing 👶🏼 🤗 ⁣ ⁣ #bornprimative #teambornprimative

A post shared by ——Cassidy Lance-McWherter—— (@cassidy_lancemcwherter) on

Multi-time Games athlete Cassidy Lance-McWherter gave birth to her baby boy, Oakley, in July. She shares her postpartum journey on social media by posting nutrition and movement tips, and real-life belly pics.  

As a busy new mom, Lance-McWherter encourages women to practice self care — even if that means getting a workout in between diapers and nursing. But she’s careful to note: “I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE,” as all bodies are different, and each postpartum woman will pave her own way. 

For more information on pregnancy, the postpartum experience, and CrossFit, check out the links below: 

The High Performance Pregnancy

Competing After Pregnancy: Denae Brown

CrossFit Training During Pregnancy and Motherhood: A New Scientific Frontier

From Pregnancy to the Games: Valerie Voboril

CrossFit and Pregnancy

CrossFitting Through Pregnancy

Baby on Board

A CrossFit Pregnancy: Healthy Mother, Healthy Child