On the 7th December Rafe turns one!! One! Where has my baby gone?! And more importantly, why doesn’t he sleep through the night yet?!! Alongside all the predictable thoughts that start running through your head as your baby approaches their first birthday, I started thinking about how amazing the female body is terms of its ability to grow and birth a baby and then recover to much the same as it was before. I thought I would just do a post on my personal post baby fitness journey at almost a year and how having a baby changed my body. I would just like to point out that I am not a fitness professional or an expert on post partum exercise and this post is about my personal journey. How soon, and what style of exercise you do after having a baby really depends on many factors, like how fit you were before getting pregnant and your personal pregnancy and birth experience etc.
Before I got pregnant I would class myself as in fairly good shape. I ran, I did (light) weights and I did Kettlebell workouts. I would say I exercised at least five times a week most weeks and on top of that I walked everyday and was on my feet all day at work. I personally wanted to make sure I was as healthy as I could be before becoming pregnant as I felt that this would increase the chances of having an ‘easy’ pregnancy with less risk of complications. I also thought that exercise and healthy(ish) eating would help increase my chances of getting pregnant sooner as both of these things encourage hormone balance and therefore better fertility.
I was lucky to fall pregnant quickly and I fully intended to continue working out for the duration of my pregnancy. However a bleed in the very early stages and a suspected miscarriage really slowed me down and told me that I really needed to take things a bit easier. Luckily everything was fine and although I did continue exercising, I did so whilst carefully listening to my body. I gave up Kettlebell workouts as I found the moves such as swings too vigorous and I also stopped running and replaced it with regular walks. I know that some women run etc throughout their pregnancies, and it probably would have been fine for me aswell but I think the initial scare made me want to be extra careful. I also went on maternity leave pretty early. I think I just went into a mode where my main priority was my baby and getting him here safely. Being told I had probably lost him and then finding that everything was thankfully okay made me want to wrap myself in cotton wool.
I ate really healthily during pregnancy but I was really lucky because I completely went off of anything sweet and sugary. Sweet treats are usually my weakness but instead my cravings were steak, tomatoes, prawns, tomato juice and salt and vinegar crisps…last one not so healthy! Be I mainly just wanted meat and vegetables! Winner! Oh and beer I craved beer! Which I fulfilled with an alcohol free version…steak and beer I don’t think we needed the 20 week scan to know I was having a boy! Anyway after a rather horrible labour (episiotomy and forceps…everything I didn’t want!) my healthy baby boy arrived on the 7th December 2016 at half 3 in the afternoon weighing a small but perfect 6lb 9. Although my labour wasn’t ideal I was on my way home the following afternoon. Stitches in rather uncomfortable places and establishing breastfeeding meant I didn’t do any form of exercise at all for two weeks post partum. Even walking was painful and I just wanted to spend time with Rafe. I did eat really healthily in that time though but I also ate a lot. I can’t remember exactly how much I weighed immediately after birth but I only put on 23lbs throughout the pregnancy so I didn’t have loads to lose and my weight was going down naturally as I lost water weight and breastfed. I think breastfeeding is amazing in general for your baby, but it’s also fantastic immediately after birth to encourage the uterus to contract back to its original size and I believe that it did kick start the loss of my baby weight (even though all it does now is make me crave chocolate hobnobs!)
It was at two weeks post partum that I actively started to workout out again. Now this may seem way too soon for some people, and I agree that it probably isn’t a good idea to start exercising that soon post birth in most cases. But I do feel like a know my body pretty well and I did exercise before and throughout pregnancy, up until the day before I gave birth. I also started super gently with just light weights and only upper body exercises. No ab work and no lower body work. It’s important to make sure you don’t have diastasis recti (see earlier post) before embarking on an workouts and doing lower body exercises such as squats too early can put pressure on the pelvic floor which also needs time to re-strengthen and recover. This post is going to be in two parts (mainly because I go on and on!) part two I will talk about the diet and exercises that helped me personally get back into shape post baby. Picture of my little bear for attention!