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[00:00:04]

Hey, this is Kelly O'Hara, host of the Just Women Sports podcast. During my interview with Alex Morgan in Episode one, we talked a lot about her post pregnancy returns, but not all of that made it into the final show. EDIT But it's too good not to share hearing Alex talk about how little guidance there is regarding post pregnancy training really opened my eyes and it made me want to share this conversation with all of you.

[00:00:26]

So we're releasing this bonus episode just covering Alex's pregnancy and her life as a new mother. I hope you enjoy and any new moms out there. Congrats. How are you doing here in Florida, how is motherhood? It's great. I'm just at Charlie's disposal and whenever she wants to eat or cry or sleep, it's like I swear, it's like she's sleeping and I need to wake her up to eat. And then she's awake and I'm like, go to sleep.

[00:00:56]

You know, it's like this forever, like cycle. Terrible cycle of like waking up when she doesn't want to be awake, putting her bed, when she doesn't want to be asleep and just eating at all times.

[00:01:04]

So is it are you doing that because you learn like you've been told that you need to get her on a schedule or she's just like, oh, I need to feed her every what is it, two to four, three, five, six hours? What is it?

[00:01:15]

I don't know, every two to three hours, I guess, from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. So it's like an hour and a half. So it's not like fair for that. They say that, but that's fine. That's the way it goes.

[00:01:27]

And yeah, it's been I mean, I've adjusted to it and it's pretty much gone like pretty smooth. Charlie's like super easy baby. And I've had a lot of family here to help me, so that's been really nice. She looks very happy. And all the pictures you send me. Yeah, I only take pictures of her when she looks happy. I delete the ones that she's crying and immediately now I just share the ones that she's happy. Many times she's sleeping or crying and I'm trying to put a bow on her and she's like and like taking it off or it's like blinding her in her face.

[00:02:01]

Both always look so cute, but they're really not easy to keep on.

[00:02:04]

So no, I wouldn't I wouldn't have known that if you didn't. You'll find out soon enough.

[00:02:09]

Maybe we ever maybe want to camp again. Yeah. How many US soccer jerseys does she have? Does she have like a Charlie jersey or does she have a Carrasco. What does she have.

[00:02:22]

She has an Orlando onesie, OK, with Charley on the back and then US soccer is I think Ryan and Jake are sending or sending a US soccer jersey. It's like in the mail right now. So you get it.

[00:02:36]

I can't wait to see her in it. So to continue on this, I want to talk first about what has become the most probably most important thing that's ever happened to you becoming a mother and just everything that the last year entailed with that, I guess maybe ten months. Nine months. So what were your initial thoughts when you found out you were pregnant?

[00:03:00]

I was really surprised, but I was so excited because, you know, we were looking forward to starting a family sometime soon and we were just surprised that it happened as quickly as it did. But we're definitely lucky that this little girl chose us. And then it was kind of an interesting time because I feel like I was navigating my injury with my knee. I was dealing with like us coming back from the World Cup and like adjusting into our teams and the league.

[00:03:31]

And so I kind of I found out like maybe mid August and it was like, what do I do? Because I don't want to you know, you never want to say anything too soon because of fear for, you know, not being able to keep the baby. So I was trying to navigate that. It was like a little weird, but I had my knee injury and I was like, well, it's kind of like a good excuse to, like, go home now to L.A., where we were living at the time and like, deal with my knee and then be able to take my time and, like, announce on my own terms.

[00:04:08]

And so we did get to do that, which I'm very thankful for.

[00:04:12]

And she grew perfectly inside me. Rather than being on her own terms. She stayed the course and and yeah. Gave birth six weeks almost ago. It's crazy to think that. I know that seems like it feels like forever ago, to be honest. It really does.

[00:04:30]

So just to walk it back a little bit, because you're talking about knee injury, so you came out of the World Cup knee was hurt and then. Yeah. Did you get back onto the field because you did? I feel like you got in like fifteen minutes, you got hit in the head. And did you know you're pregnant then?

[00:04:47]

So I found out and I was like kind of on my way getting back into playing, but like my knee wasn't feeling great, but it was like I could play on it. You know how as athletes you can push? Yeah, you can push there. And I was like, I'll just deal with how my knee is feeling afterwards and make sure I do everything I can to recover for the next game. So, yeah, I got into the game, I got hit in the head and I was just like kind of concerned at that moment because I was like I was already like really hesitant to put myself in that position.

[00:05:23]

I talked to some doctors and they said like that the baby super protected, like in the pelvis until about ten to twelve weeks. So I was really early on and I was like, OK, like, I feel OK. Like continuing to. Until around like eight or 10 weeks and then each day that went on, obviously things just start going in your head and you start to get stressed and anxious and like, obviously start Googling everything. Was that you were just Googling away?

[00:05:51]

Oh, yeah. I didn't know. Like, the first thing, like, you're like, oh, when do Feodor every six hours I reach out, it's like that's how it is.

[00:05:58]

I feel like every single day, even today, I'm like Googling things.

[00:06:02]

What does a six week old do? How do you entertain a six week old and keep them awake like once a week time supposed to be like. So I feel like I was Googling everything at that point, but that's when I think I took a week or two to, like, really try to get my new figure it out and be like, OK, what's the best plan of action? And then I ended up before the NBA season moving back to L.A. because I was pregnant.

[00:06:26]

I wanted to go to Toronto, but also that was the best place to go, like long term for my knee, which I did throughout my entire pregnancy. And it was really great.

[00:06:36]

Yeah, that's definitely a blessing in disguise to be able you know, you're able to take that time to get something better while you were growing a baby inside of you.

[00:06:45]

Yeah, I remember we were at a camp because I got injured. Beginning of August with my uncle and we we were texting, we weren't in the same place for texting and I was like, oh, I'm not drinking until I'm back on the field, like, I need to get this ankle right. And so and then we were back in camp and I was like, hey, do you want to go get a drink?

[00:07:05]

And you're like, I thought you were drinking. I'm not drinking either until I is better because you hadn't told anybody about being pregnant. I was just like, oh, OK. I guess you completely fooled me. And then when I saw you, I was like, what, October? And you told me I was like, oh, now I see what you did. Yeah, I so you told me that you're like, oh, I just want to focus on, like, my recovery and like my injury and I'm not like going to drink or anything.

[00:07:30]

And I was like, that's good.

[00:07:32]

Yeah. I was like I should say that sounds like Kelly's not. And so I need to get my knee right too. So I'm not. So I went to the VMAs with Ashton Ali and I was like, no, like I you know, I made this pact with Kelly, like, we're just not going to drink until our injuries, until we're healed. And they're like, OK, like, I didn't think anything of it.

[00:07:51]

And I was like, dodge that bullet. Yeah. Mean, so obviously you're able you get through, what is it, the first trimester and you're you feel comfortable telling people you announce it. What was your thoughts towards soccer? Because I know that when we spoke about it, you were like my first priority is having a healthy baby, healthy pregnancy. And then if I can come back, because Olympics is coming up very quickly. So but then I feel like something changed because you are still training.

[00:08:28]

You were getting in all of this all these touches, that sort of thing, and which I was pumped about because I was like, oh, she's she's planning on doing this, trying to go for the Olympics. But like, what was your mindset through basically up until the Olympics got canceled. Yeah, not cancelled. Postpone.

[00:08:47]

Yeah, I was basically training as much as I could, as much as my knee allowed me. I was getting back on the field and able to do stuff in the second trimester and I was like training like out on the field, shooting with Dave doing group training and stuff. Nothing contact. At that point I was just like doing kind of touches on the ball, shooting, fitness, stuff like that, and trying to listen to what my doctor had to say in terms of fitness and heart rate and make sure you manage that.

[00:09:19]

And then also Googling as much as I can. I feel like there's really not enough research or, I don't know, data on pregnant athletes. And so I found some like blogs about women like running marathons late in pregnancy and this and that. And like, I was just like, OK, I'm going to do what I did before, but I'm going to, like, not elevate my too much. And so I just kind of try to be as careful as possible, but like stick to like who I am as an athlete and not forget about that.

[00:09:53]

And that was also an important piece of me, like feeling still like good throughout my pregnancy because everyone says like staying active while you're pregnant is important and it helps with labour and birth and recovery. It's definitely helped with recovery a lot. But I feel like up until the Olympics was postponed or canceled this year, I started to get a little more anxious, like as the weeks got closer to me delivering because I was like, OK, well, what if she goes past your due date?

[00:10:24]

Like, what if I have to have a C-section, like hot? How is that going to affect my recovery?

[00:10:30]

So. Although it was like such a bummer and devastating to have the Olympics be like canceled for this year and still up in the air for next year, for me, it was like I was able to breathe a little bit because I didn't have to feel like, OK, I'll have to like induce like on her new day if she doesn't come by thinking, like, selfishly. So I stop thinking that way and was like, OK, she's going to come on her terms, which she does.

[00:10:55]

She came 10 days late. She needed a little extra help to get out too. And and it was kind of just like worked out in a way that like I was able to really have like a relief almost and like stress kind of like leave me at the end of the pregnancy.

[00:11:14]

I mean, I was very obviously, like you said, having the Olympics postponed was a major bummer. But in your. Situation, it was like the best possible thing, so I think I was thankful because I was worried about you like as a friend coming back and pushing because again, uneducated here about return to play after pregnancy. What what were you thinking it was going to have to be. And now kind of what are you doing in that area?

[00:11:45]

Well, I was always thinking, like, OK, what's as soon as possible I can get, like, back on the field. So when can I get running? You know, they say six weeks, you're kind of release. But can I, like, start running up three weeks or four weeks, you know, like, how much can I push it? And then I talk to Kate Margraf and she was like, yeah, I felt really good a week after delivering.

[00:12:04]

So I like went on a jog and then she was like, and then I look after my back and this and that and she's like, so just take your time. And I'm like, well, I can't really take my time. You know, we're on like a time crunch here. Like, so all this stuff was going through my head. I started actually following this program called Birth, and I've been following their postpartum program as well, which has been amazing.

[00:12:30]

But it is at a slower pace than I was going to go when the Olympics was like on schedule for this year. So now, like, knowing that I have a little more time and we have maybe national team camp in this fall or something like that, I can make sure that I like taking the proper steps to my recovery because I really haven't done corps work in months. It's been stretching my stomach. So, you know, it takes time, like to get back to normal to take that weight off.

[00:13:00]

I'm also breastfeeding and it's like you have to have a little bit of fat for that breast milk to be able to feed your baby and have, like, enough to feed your baby. So I'm kind of trying to, like, work through it every day and make sure I'm getting enough in my body. And I'm working out like a little bit. I'm doing spin like we have a peloton, so I'm doing some cycling and I'm doing some, like, lifting and stuff, but it's just body weight.

[00:13:25]

So I'm taking now like a slower approach, but an approach where I feel like once I get back on the field, not like I am one hundred percent, like no possible room for like an injury because of me rushing back on the field.

[00:13:40]

Yeah, that's great. Slow and steady wins the race here, especially because there's just so many physical changes that happen to your body through pregnancy and then through labor and post. So, yeah, I mean, for sure.

[00:13:53]

And like, I feel really good right now, but also like I have just started doing like body weight and like, like lunges and squats and like dead bug and bird dog stuff like that. That, like, for me is like an hour. Deals are like, good morning. Just like body weight stuff. That is typically pretty easy for us. But like my hamstrings are like short the next day. So it's weird, you know, like that kind of tells me, OK, like this slower approach is the right approach.

[00:14:25]

So you're following a specific plan from a program?

[00:14:30]

Yeah, I'm following the birth postpartum program and there's really like no protocol.

[00:14:37]

I mean, obviously it's like we'll get your core activated and start with upper body and lower body and like, start slow and like take it one day at a time. But I feel like it's kind of like trial and error almost, because there's it's not like black and white, like, oh, you go to like physical therapy. And like this is our six week outline of things. You kind of have to see how your body feels. Everybody's different.

[00:15:02]

I what I really wanted to have a vaginal delivery. I didn't want to have a C-section unless necessary. Obviously I would do it if it was necessary, but I felt like recovery would be easier by having like a natural delivery. So I'm really glad that I was able to have that sort of delivery that I wanted. And and I think that that's helped with my recovery. But I also don't want to jump the gun just because I feel good.

[00:15:29]

I don't want to be like, oh, let me just go on a three mile run or anything like that. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it makes sense. Do you think that part of the reason there isn't, like you said, with a specific injury, you have a return to play protocol and a lot of times return to play for specific injuries. Don't go as planned. You know, you have like you think you're going to go from A to Z, a straight line, but it's all over the place and you get there.

[00:15:52]

Do you think, like you said, there's not. Concrete returned to play after pregnancy because there's not enough information or they haven't, you know, grouped it all together and figured out how we get professional athletes back on the field quickest. Is that why or is it just because everybody's delivery. Pregnancy, how their bodies change is so different? We can't they probably can't prescribe a detailed set plan? Yeah, I would say, like, it's a combination of those.

[00:16:23]

So I feel like like a lot of doctors say like, oh, six weeks, like you're cleared. Like, what does that mean? And a lot of times, like your body is not ready to just do whatever it pleases at the gym or whatever it is in terms of fitness at six weeks. And then, of course, like everybody is different. It is like an injury in a way where your recovery is going to be different. Some people come back from ACL and five or six months, some people it takes a year.

[00:16:52]

Some people, you know, very rare, but some people can never recover from it. So I feel like it's similar to that. You just never know how, like your body is going to react to something. So I feel pretty lucky that I'm able to take it slow right now, because if we have the Olympics coming up, I would not be able to take it slow. What is your biggest surprise, being a new mother? Hmm, my biggest surprise.

[00:17:20]

Mm, I feel like like Charlie's pretty easy, you know, for the most part, no's between, like day and night. And like she feeds pretty well. Like, I was really concerned about breast feeding. I didn't really see like a lactation consultant. And I had heard it's like really difficult. She like lots really. Well, I'm very lucky she's healthy. I obviously like I get concerned over the littlest things, you know, what's this rash?

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Or like, why is she making this sound or like why isn't she like eating as well as she did like yesterday or things like that? Or like why is her brown and it was yellow earlier.

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You know, it's like I've got so many questions and so many questions. Yeah, seriously. But I, I think overall it's been like it's been pretty great. I think the the one thing that I'm like getting back into working out is I'm happy we have like an at home gym in our garage because if not like I would be like, what do I do with my baby when I, like, leave, you know? So yeah, right now it's like I'm lucky.

[00:18:25]

Servando like she only has training for like an hour and half right now and he's home most of the day. So I don't know, like I do I need like a nanny or do I need like someone I don't know. I need like a grandma to come and watch her because I'm like, what am I supposed to do when I'm actually back on the field?

[00:18:44]

So you just start that process of figuring that out? Well, if anyone's good at logistics, it's you. So I've no doubt that you'll have that hammered out.

[00:18:53]

I know. That's why I'm like kind of stressing because I'm like, I don't have it like settled. But also we live in Florida right now and I'm kind of like, are we going to go back to California for like holidays or even sooner or like what's going on? The end result is like has this tournament right now and is there going to be anything else the rest of the year? It's kind of like probably not, but possibly, you know, so it's it's like I have no idea where we're going to be from now until like the end of the year.

[00:19:20]

And I think that complicates things.

[00:19:22]

Yeah, but you're no stranger to that. Well, you're crushing motherhood. So excited for you. It's awesome to see you in this new role. Thanks so much for listening to the show this week. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And also don't forget to sign up for the just women's sports newsletter. It's everything you need to see and know in women's sports delivered straight to your inbox and while you're at it, also girls a ball on social.

[00:19:48]

It's not just from sports. Our show is co-produced by Just Women Sports and integrated a division of John Marshall Media. Big thanks to our executive producers Hayley Rosen, Adrian Glover and Robin Wright, Jawn Murray and Sidney Sharda. Research Postproduction is by Jen Grossman and Klemperer. Special thanks to Jesse Louis, Sarah Storm and Cotliar, I'm Kelli O'Hara, and you've been listening to the Gentleman Sports Podcast. See you next week.