DEALING WITH A NEW BODY AFTER CHILDBIRTH
|My signature face / body photo crop post-childbirth|
I expected my boobs to get bigger, I expected a few stretch marks and I expected a paunch. What I didn't expect was an extra two-and-half-stone to lug around, stretch marks EVERYWHERE (most strangely on my inner thighs?!), giant bingo wings and boobs that are literally six cup sizes up from my pre-pregnancy days.
Suddenly being a size 14-16 after never getting beyond a size 12 has been a shock to the system, and my poor knees and ankles, which were never great to begin with, are feeling the strain as they get used to the extra work.
I've never struggled with my weight and have never let my wobbly bits bother me. Before becoming a mum, if I put on the odd half a stone I'd stop eating quite so many bowls of cereal for a few weeks, swap to skimmed milk, walk up and down the escalators rather than stand, and the pounds would fall off. Well, up to the point where I couldn't resist cereal again. I was in good shape without being superfit and, most importantly of all, was healthy and happy.
That said, I've always had a huge appetite (you don't want to speak to me when I'm hangry) and being pregnant only made my growling stomach all the more insatiable. In the first few months of pregnancy I would get sudden bouts of ravenous hunger, meaning that it got to the point where I was having two breakfasts - one at home and one as soon as I got to the office - followed by a stodgy canteen lunch at noon, snacks throughout the afternoon followed by a big meal at teatime and cereal before bed (aka supper). If I didn't eat I felt sick, so I went with it and gave my body what it wanted.
I read somewhere that an increased appetite is more likely if you're expecting a boy, but it got to the point in my pregnancy where I continued this eating regime out of habit, rather than necessity. "Sod it, I'm pregnant, the extra biscuit or four won't make much difference." Well, turns out it probably did, and it's no wonder I've piled on the pounds.
A tough birth and a period of immobility after a prolonged hospital stay didn't help, and in the early weeks once I was back home I would happily munch my way through a packet of Hobnobs ("oats are good for breastfeeding!") and boxes of chocolate for comfort ("I need the happy pheromones!") while pinned to the sofa by a hungry baby.
Now - five months after giving birth - I'm having to make the biggest effort I've ever had to make to lose weight and get healthy again.
This isn't about what I look like, though I must admit it would be great to be able to get at least one pair of my pre-baby trousers beyond my mid-thighs, finally get to wear my wedding ring again and not look like my arms are bigger than my baby's torso. Instead, it's about ensuring that I'm fit, active and well so I can do all the things I want to do in order to be the kind of mum I want to be. I want to be able to chuck him in the air, and goodness knows I'm going to to need to be able to chase him round a park - and have him chase me - in the next year or so without feeling like I've just run a marathon.
So, over the next few months I'm setting myself a personal mission to lose the extra weight, get my legs, core and arms strong again and, most importantly of all, feel good about myself. It's been a tough old year for my body - and my mind - so I'm not going to be too hard on myself, but in a strange way I'm actually looking forward to the challenge, to prove to myself that I can do it. And this isn't just about being a mum, this is also about doing something for myself. I've got this.
Interested in postnatal fitness? Here are some ideas about how to ease your way into exercise after childbirth:
Wait at least six weeks
Firstly, and most importantly, don't do any strenuous exercise for at least six weeks and you've had the all-clear from your GP after your postnatal check.
You'll likely be discovering every nook and cranny of your local neighbourhood in the early months. We don't have a car so, instead of hopping on the bus or train for local jaunts, I've been walking as much as I can. Start slowly in the early weeks before building up to a Harold Bishop-style power walk. If you have a baby sling and can carry your baby, all the better for getting those muscles working.
I found a good local class which was great for the earlier months after birth, with a focus on relaxation, slowly building up core strength and help with the (very important) pelvic floor region. Some classes let you take your baby, but I actually found that my Saturday morning mum-only class gave me some much-needed 'me' time.
Mother and baby Pilates
I've also just started attending a weekly class which you can take your babies (under one) along to. The babies are fully involved in the class, and they even get to do a few stretches of their own. And yet another way to meet local mums.
|Our local Buggyfit location|
I was lucky enough to win a series of classes in a local raffle, but there are sessions available nationwide. You go along with your baby in a buggy (no special jogging buggy needed) and take part in a group outdoor workout in a local park - come rain or shine - led by an instructor who is qualified for postnatal exercise (Corinda Slyfield taught my nearest class). It's good fun, and babies can get involved for lifting and arm exercises.
Definitely one for a few months down the line given the likely sensitivity of the "down below" region, but I love spinning and have recently started going to Saturday morning classes. High energy, loud music, lots of sweating - it's a fab way to start the weekend and have a bit of fun baby-free time, and it feels great to do some exercise that doesn't have the word "baby" or "postnatal" attached to it.
Has your post-baby body come as a shock? Any other exercise tips? Feel free to let me know!