Call me naive but I was completely unprepared for the way I would feel about my body after giving birth to my baby girl. I had read all the books and I had all of the necessary information, but there’s just something about pregnancy that makes you kind of, mentally block out the thought of anything potentially ‘icky’ or uncomfortable. Consequently, the profuse leakage, aching knees (seriously, no one ever tells you), and sheer bone exhaustion (not to mention the sizeable gut) came as something of a shock. Now I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Putting experiences down on paper seems to make them appear ten times worse and, if I’m honest, everything has been perfectly manageable – that’s not to say I wasn’t caught off guard!
I’m about as far removed from a health and fitness fanatic as it’s possible to get – this is not a tale of how I grew to love exercise or a detailed testimony of I got my pre-baby body back. Simply put, 9 months down the line I still struggle every day with motivation (or the lack thereof) and lack of confidence in my own abilities. It’s been a long hard slog and I still have a way to go. Here are a few discoveries I’ve made along the way.
- No one tells you why your body looks and behaves the way it does. At each postnatal check, my midwife would feel my tummy. I never thought to question why as it seemed a perfectly logical thing to do. My tummy had, after all, recently housed an 8Ib human so it made sense that someone would ‘check’ that it was doing o.k. in the aftermath. I wasn’t aware that she was checking the extent of my abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Recti). If I’m honest I wasn’t aware there was such a thing!
- Most women have some degree of separation after childbirth – some are lucky with only a minimal gap that will reduce over time. Others have a more severe separation that does require targeted core strengthening techniques to rectify and can be MADE WORSE by the wrong types of exercise.
- Planks, crunches and other advanced abdominal exercises are the worst possible thing you can do for a post-baby pooch! Without regaining core stability these exercises will do very little for your mum-tum and may even make matters worse There is a definite lack of information as to how to optimise postpartum workouts.
- Postpartum bodies do not simply snap back to what they were before. I think this myth needs busting right now. Yes, some women recover more quickly than others – every woman’s body responds differently and every woman has a different experience of both pregnancy and birth. Keep in mind that old saying – 9 months on 9 months off (in fact give it a good year or more).
- As much as it pains me to say it (believe me I’m eye rolling myself right now), you do need to do something to help your body along. I love sweets, I love tea, I hate getting sweaty. It has taken an enormous amount of effort and willpower to summon the energy to prioritise my health and well-being. As I said, this is not the tale of how I now love exercise. It is hard! I don’t love it and it really is a struggle especially when you are in a permanent state of sleep deprivation. But here’s the depressing truth – exercise works! When I get out for a walk first thing in the morning I do feel better. When I finish a workout, I do get a buzz (simply from the sense of satisfaction at having completed it without keeling over) and after 12 weeks of core exercises, I am far less likely to end up in a puddle of wee when I sneeze! Having babies is nothing if not glamorous!
Click Here for a full review of the targeted postpartum system I have used to get to grips with healing my body post pregnancy.
*Update…Going Forward – BBG & Beyond
If I’m being honest, this post has been sitting in the drafts folder for a number of weeks. I just haven’t known when was ‘the right time’ and I certainly don’t feel qualified to advise anybody on the rights and wrongs of getting the ‘old bod’ back in action. Since completing my 12 weeks on the Mutu System, I’ve found myself wanting to (tentatively) take my fitness journey to the next level. My friend Kim recommended the ‘Kayla Itsines’ BBG Programme to me and, after four weeks (of beginner level) I’m certainly feeling stronger though the workouts are INTENSE! As I said I am no great exercise lover so would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned that I might not be able to go the distance – particularly as I have a holiday coming up! I have a feeling this could be an ongoing saga…watch this space!
I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences of working out or dealing with body woes after pregnancy. If you have any tips, tricks or stories to tell please do leave a comment below!