Megan Roup Opens Up About Motherhood and the Fourth Trimester

The Sculpt Society founder offers a raw look inside her life as a first-time mom.

Megan Roup Pregnancy Postpartum Body Image
Photo: Carmen Santorelli

The Sculpt Society's Megan Roup has built a massive following for her signature energizing workouts that burn oh-so-good. Her clientele includes a slew of celebrities such as Victoria's Secret models Elsa Hosk, Martha Hunt, and Romee Strijd — to name a few.

When the fitness powerhouse announced her pregnancy back in January, fans were eager to follow her journey. Now, just a few weeks after giving birth to her daughter Harlow, Roup is opening up about her experience as a first-time mom and all the ups and downs that go with it.

Navigating the Trials of Breastfeeding

"It feels like it's been a second, but also five years," Roup tells Shape of her time as a mom. Just a month postpartum, says she's in the thick of motherhood, and her biggest struggle thus far? Breastfeeding. "I honestly just assumed that you have your baby and if you've produced, he or she latches, and you breastfeed for as long as you choose. Well, that wasn't the case for me."

Roup shared that her daughter still hadn't latched at four weeks old. "We've tried pretty much everything," says Roup. "I've seen multiple lactation consultants, but so far, nothing has worked."

Inevitably, Roup has been left with no other option but to exclusively pump, which she says has not been fun. "I'm attached to a pump seven to eight times a day," she reveals. "Also, I'm someone who apparently doesn't have 'average' nipples so I had to order a special breast pump flange, which is the plastic piece that fits directly over your nipple and forms the suction needed to pump. It's just funny because I really believed that this was something that's supposed to happen organically and I've had to learn the hard way that that's not true."

Aside from the physical struggles, Roup shares that her breastfeeding struggles have taken a toll emotionally. "You want to provide food for your baby," the former professional dancer says. "It's not that I feel like a failure, but there is this underlying sense that I can't do this one job that's such an important part of early motherhood. So there are all of these other emotions that come with struggling to breastfeed that I really didn't expect."

All of that is in addition to the insurmountable changes that come with the rest of early motherhood. "The first two weeks, I was on a total high," says Roup. "I was obsessed with Harlow, couldn't believe I was finally a mom and was excited about this new chapter of life. Then, my hormone levels crashed, and all of a sudden, the fatigue set in."

Resisting the Pressure to "Bounce Back"

Roup says she quickly realized that postpartum recovery was going to be a long process. "My core is so much weaker than it was," she shares. "I can feel it when I'm just getting out of bed. But I'm trying to be gentle with myself and give myself grace and time." (

For the first time, Roup says that she's been forced to adhere to the advice she so often gives her clients. "It's been a great perspective for me," she says. "I work with so many moms and also have a pre- and post- natal program on my app, so now I feel like I can really level with these women in a whole new way."

"Just like I've reminded them, I'm now telling myself that I can't just rush back into it," adds Roup. "These things take time. You have to fix your internal dialogue with yourself and treat yourself with compassion and kindness."

Still, naturally, the idea of "bouncing back" and returning to her pre-baby shape, will sometimes crawl into her mind, says Roup. "Do I feel like myself right now? No," she shares. "Whether it's within my own body or visually, I don't recognize myself right now — and I think that's normal and okay to talk about, too. It's not all rainbows and sunshine."

The pressure is tough, but Roup does a good job managing it. "How I handle the pressure is under my control," she shares. "I just have to remind myself to tune back into my body and start my own conversation about what's more important to me. At the end of the day, my body doesn't define my worth."

How She's Physically Recovering

When it comes to recovery, so far, pelvic floor exercises have been key for Roup. "I really focus on these in my pre- and post- natal program," she shares. "They are so important in helping you navigate that connection with your core. Not only did I find them to be super helpful during labor, but even postpartum. Lightly engaging my pelvic floor has helped me get in touch with my core again."

Pelvic floor muscles support your pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis, including gluteal, perianal, and vaginal muscles, and they're actually a part of your core. Aside from helping with labor and delivery, as well as postpartum healing, a strong pelvic floor is vital to avoid urinary incontinence, a lack of bladder control, straining with bowel movements, pelvic pain, and even pelvic organ prolapse, Rachel Gelman, D.P.T., a pelvic floor clinical specialist in San Francisco previously told Shape. So whether you're pregnant or not, pelvic floor exercises definitely deserve a place in your daily workout routine.

Roup might be taking small steps toward her recovery for now, but looking ahead, the trainer plans to continue expanding her pre- and post- natal program and gear up for the first-ever The Sculpt Society (TSS) live tour. Coming sometime this fall, the TSS tour will be an immersive fitness experience including kick-ass workouts, special guests, meet and greets, and retail opportunities, explains Roup. "It's going to be a wonderful way for me to engage with my TSS crew and get back into the swing of things," she says.

Challenges aside, one thing Roup is super grateful for is her amazing support system. "Through social media, women have been having such open and honest conversations about the 'fourth trimester' and how challenging it can actually be," she says. "Because of that, and the increased awareness around the early postpartum period has led a lot of people to ask me how I'm doing versus just focusing on the baby. So I don't feel alone in that way, but even still, being a new mom is downright hard."

And Roup says that she loves being a mom. "In the moments when she's sleeping on my chest, I find myself just staring at this new human I created," she says. "I'm in disbelief that she's here and she's mine."

While pregnant, Roup says she felt nervous about the connection she would have with her baby once she was born. "I've always wanted to be a mom, but I'm also not the most maternal person," she shares. "Quite frankly, I just didn't love pregnancy as much as I thought I would. When you're not enjoying that process, you start to ask yourself, 'Am I going to enjoy motherhood?' I really didn't know how I was going to feel about my child, how I was going to balance work, life, and motherhood." (

But now that she's living the reality, Roup has come to realize that just because you didn't love pregnancy, doesn't mean you're not going to love your child. "They are completely different experiences," she says. "At the same time, it's okay to voice these experiences. Now that I'm on the other side of it, I've realized that motherhood is truly as wonderful as everyone says."

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