Like anything, being a mother who poles has its rewards and challenges, but the general consensus is not to be too hard on yourself.

Crystal Cumbee, who at the time of publication is still pregnant, says she struggles to have the energy to pole at all. “My challenge now has been coming to terms with not being able to safely do certain things anymore,” she says. “I was someone who was literally flipping off of the pole like it was nothing, and now I can barely do a pull up.” She still trains while pregnant and has embraced low flow and choreography, which Tobin Crosby thinks is a great idea. “Pole if you can while pregnant, even if it is low key! Your muscle memory is real, and it will help with recovering after birth.” Poling post-partum—or any time, Tobin says— is a great way to regain confidence, body awareness, strength, and self-esteem.

Crystal knows that putting off flip training is temporary and quips that she’ll be flipping again one day. And if she’s not eager to return to training right away? Sarah Scott says that’s okay too. Sarah points out that your priorities may shift after baby. “For me I thought I would be desperate to get back to pole, but in reality I loved having some time off and spending it with my daughter.” Because she took time off, Sarah says she feels ready to challenge herself again. She’s loving dancing and building her strength back up.

And as for that “bounce-back body?” FUCK. THAT. NOISE. “I wish people knew that it doesn’t matter if you’re not the same after a baby as before” says Sarah. “You can take all the time you need to get back to training. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to ‘bounce back’ when in reality we need time to recover and adjust to motherhood.” She advises to let your plans go. “Everyone is so different in their pregnancies, labor, and postpartum journeys, you really can’t plan how things are going to go - just be prepared to be unprepared and try to go with the flow.”

Meredith Winston vehemently agrees. “We are sadly conditioned to want to bounce back physically to our pre-pregnancy bodies as soon as possible. The fact of the matter is, bouncing back is not and should not be a thing, “ she says. “We grow a human in our bodies. We are transformed because of this process. So, really to say it is transformative is, in my opinion, an understatement. We transform, and change and evolve. We do not need to bounce back.” Say it again for the people in the back!

Every person who walks through the studio door had to overcome something to get there. For mothers, it’s not just mental or emotional; sometimes it’s straight up logistics. The mothers I talked to cited child care as something that they have to plan for just to be able to attend classes. They are grateful to their studios for running day time classes, mixed level classes, and evening or weekend classes that make it possible to get out the door and in the studio.

Some of my students who are mothers have to hire babysitters in order to attend class. Because of that two-fold cost, I feel a responsibiliy as the instructor to give them a doubly kick ass workout. On the other hand, some of my students who are mothers come in, lay on the ground, and could not care less if they moved a muscle. They’re just happy to not be needed for an hour. For them, it’s about the space to just be.

These mommas say just go with the flow. Take your time. Just be. And what momma says goes.

Special thanks to the moms who carved out precious time to help me with this blog series: Amy Hazel, Sarah Scott, Jillian Weddeke, Tobin Crosby, Meredith Winston, and Crystal Cumbee. Thanks also to pole baby Seth Bacher and his pole mom Tynesha Brown-Emerling.