I like to think I’m down to earth and approachable with a realistic and honest view on most things! I think there is massive pressure on Mums to look and feel a certain way during pregnancy and afterwards, which makes me sad. It was bad enough 13 years ago when I had my daughter, but with social media/google and groups a plenty, Mums don’t know which way to turn sometimes! Conflicting and confusing advice with political correctness gone mad, from weaning to teething, sleeping and breastfeeding, not forgetting trying to get back into your size 10 jeans ASAP!
So many Mums are so focused on losing the “mummy tummy” getting back to pre-pregancy fitness, being a certain shape or size, that they forget and do not give themselves enough credit and respect for how much their body has endured during pregnancy, birth and labour.
Even for those who have a wonderful pregnancy, feel tip top and are feel mentally and physically read to “get back on it” – stop, slow down. You wouldn’t build a house without foundations would you?
When can I start exercising again?
Possibly the most commonly asked question I get asked and my response depends entirely on how that Mum gave birth, her pregnancy, her health and fitness prior to pregnancy.
Just because the books say 6-8 weeks, just because you’ve had the all clear at your check, just because some celebrity appears on the steps of the hospital looking svelt and coiffed, literally minutes after giving birth doesn’t mean you have to!
It can take 3-4 months to even feel remotely “normal” after a caesarean, but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re odd or weird or inferior in any way.
Chatter at Mums groups and postnatal circles can often leave you feeling like a big fat failure when you hear other Mums regale their stories of 5k runs at 8 weeks postpartum or being back in pre-pregnancy jeans…They may be feeling smug, they may not even realise they’re bragging, they may not think at all as that just feels “normal” to them – but you do not know their history or other things in their life.
They may have a baby that doesn’t sleep! Remember, no one really shares the bad stuff. We all want to look like we’re coping at Motherhood!
Focus on your own body, your own journey and your own recovery and restoration path. Every one of you, just like your baby is individual. Do things at your pace.
I never discourage anyone from exercising and being fit and active to perform as a Mum is vital to your health and wellbeing, but don’t put yourself under pressure. Making sure you’re exercising with a qualified postnatal instructor is key to ensuring you’re in a safe and effective class.
12 months is the postnatal period – remember that!
Celebrities seem to lose their mummy tummy quickly – when will I?
I hear this ALL the time! It’s not real! They have teams of people around them to support and scaffold their life. Chefs, housekeepers, drivers, nannys, PA’s, cleaners, stylists, Personal Trainers, make up artists, hairdressers….. the list goes on. They are also air brushed and cleverly photographed. Don’t be fooled! Don’t fall into the trap!
Many Mums don’t realise the potentially devastating consequences of not letting the body recover after childbirth. Not a week goes by where I don’t see a woman who has returned to high impact exercise or progressive exercise too soon.
A key problem is that for some women, there are no obvious symptoms of internal damage. Do too much too soon and you are inflicting a lot of pressure and putting strain on the delicate pelvic floor muscles, weak abdominals, core, bowel and bladder
Celebrities flaunting their post baby bodies within weeks of giving birth makes you feel you should be immediately bouncing back into shape too. Not so!
“I’m not running, just jogging” – is this you?
Running/jogging (same thing!) the only difference is speed and it’s impact we’re talking about here.
Putting any air between you and the floor where both feet are off the ground for a split second will create impact. Running puts three times your body weight through your pelvic floor.
It will already be weak after pregnancy (regardless of what birth you have) – The pelvic floor support our pelvic organs and control our front and back passages. It does not need this pressure or strain whilst in recovery.
You are not going to be burning lots of calories in long slow cardio mode – you will get more benefit from a good strong power walk in the early days. You’re looking for endorphins being released, feel good hormones! Just being sweaty and out of breath isn’t a sign that you’ve worked harder or done more good. Build up slowly, it will happen!
What abdominal exercises can I do?
As a postnatal specialist and fitness coach, I get asked this by EVERYONE!
Sit ups and planks are intense exercises that can exacerbate conditions caused by pregnancy such as diastasis recti (DR) – where the abdominal muscles separate causing a gap. DR is normal and needs to happen to make room for your baby, but how you restore your core after that is important.
Make sure you have someone qualified who knows how to check your DR gap (a good postnatal instructor should always do this) I do this for Mums at their first Buggyfit session. Core and abdominal exercises are then tailored, appropriate and regressed ready for progression.
Embrace your new body – love it, don’t hate it!
The new age celebrity and reality TV star thinks nothing these days of surgery. Invasive procedures like botox, fillers, breast augmentation, liposuction and tummy tucks. In fact I do believe that the “mummy makeover” is now common practice! This is thrown in our faces daily, we can’t avoid it – but it just make us “normal” Mums feel inadequate, unsexy, old and desperate for a quick magic fix. Growing old gracefully seems to be a thing of the past!
I urge you girls to embrace those lines and wrinkles, droopy boobs, stretch marks and crinkly skin. Celebrate your success and achievement and skill at creating another human being! Accept the changes and allow yourself time to lovingly restore your amazing body to the best version of you. Be realistic! Be patient! YOU DO YOU!