If there's anything that can completely throw you out of balance when it comes to your health and fitness, it's a new little bundle in your life who will one day call you mummy. Not only have you been through 9 months of an hormonal roller-coaster whilst observing the miraculous (and sometimes challenging) transformation of your body preparing for birth; you then find a whole load of new challenges when the little one arrives.
This blog comes in more than one installment, as I found there was so much content, I had to split it up! For this blog I talked with a previous client of mine who lives back in the UK (hence why I can no longer train her!) - Nicola is Mum to a 9 month old little Sienna with whom I have stayed in touch with since our move over to Perth.
Her journey has been (and continues to be) an interesting one as she trying to discover a sustainable health and fitness regime that works for her new lifestyle with her current goal of losing the last 6 kilos (having already lost 11 kilos since the birth of her daughter). When I talk to Nicola I think of every new mum I have ever worked with and thought I would use this opportunity to get her honest take on the realities of a fitness regime when you're a new mum and together, try to find the solutions to share with all of you.
PART 1) Baby Steps (0 - 3 months)
The first few weeks for most new mummies and daddies can be a bit of a shock. Not only may some of you been through physically, mentally and emotionally draining labors that drained you of every ounce of your being, but when reality hits of what this little person needs from you it can be like a tonne of bricks has just hit you in the face - ACME style.
Nicola said "For me, the hardest bit was being unable to do anything for myself or my baby and this really knocked my confidence, self-esteem and I was super-emotional all the time (Nicola had endured a 36 hour labor followed by an emergency section.) I think it all hit me at once! I had loved my bump and had a really lovely pregnancy! I then found myself in constant agony, unable to dress myself or walk more than a few steps with the immense pressure of a baby to look after! Even though my husband looked after us both in those first two weeks and couldn't have been any more supportive or loving, I felt this massive pressure (self-inflicted) to be a good mum and get back to 'normal' as quickly as possible."
I suggested to Nicola that she start small - baby steps if you will - and rather than being swallowed up by everything that had happened and was to come, just to focus on the present moment taking one day at a time. Nicola's c-section meant that she was told she was unable exercise until after her 6 month check up, and I knew that this would frustrate Nicola and make her feel even worse! She's not one to be told she 'can't' do something! (sound familiar?!) So after a month I told her to start doing her pelvic floor exercises, which the doctor had also advised, and to try and get out in the fresh air for a couple of steps, VERY SLOWLY, building up each week. I stressed she MUST listen to her body every hour, every day and give it the rest it needs otherwise she would run the risk of putting her recovery back even further. This advice goes for any new mum, no matter how easy / difficult your birth experience was. Your body has been through massive changes (and will continue to for the next 9 months) so it is ESSENTIAL you learn how to listen to its' cues.
Nicola says: "I started small just walking to the end of the road SLOWLY and then back. This then led to walking to the park at the back of the house, sitting down for a rest on a bench and coming home. Slowly I built up the distance / pace each week and I am now walking nearly 10km three to five times per week, and trying to beat my time each walk I do - I use the Nike Running App to monitor my progress and it really spurs me on to see how far I've come. I also credit the walking outdoors to a) Sienna's excellent health and vitality b) keeping my sanity and c) losing a good chunk (excuse the pun) of the weight!"
They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! This is true for anyone who starts any new fitness regime, but certainly if you have just had a baby. Your body is not the same one it was before you got pregnant - massive changes have occurred! Amazing changes! I like to tell my clients not to think of it as getting your old body back but having the opportunity to create a new strong, healthy amazing one that will help you to live to the full each day and be the best role model possible for your son or daughter.