The Challenge Of Getting Fit After Giving Birth
The media really does have a lot to answer for when it comes to the pressure that is placed on a woman’s post-pregnancy body image. We follow the stories of our favourite celebrities as they fall pregnant and give birth. They are growing a tiny human being, just like we are, and yet they look utterly flawless. Headlines will state how certain celebrities “bounced back” after giving birth. “Abs” will be mentioned and beautiful women will be pictured in a bikini just weeks (or sometimes days) after giving birth. They appear to be super-human with not a stretch-mark or dark eye circle in sight. We wonder where are we going wrong?!
Simple tasks like making a cup of tea or loading the dishwasher can feel like climbing a mountain when you have given birth. Tiredness, stitches, aches and pains are ever-present as we try to find our way as a new parent. The last thing on our minds is anything remotely concerned with fitness or how we look to the outside world. A five minute shower feels like a trip to the Spa.
Instead we should probably be focusing on being kinder to ourselves. Breastfeeding in particular can lead to a ravenous appetite (and often a tendency to want sweet things). It is a time where we tend to go in to survival mode. Eating a hot meal with two hands is a victory in itself.
Something like baby massage or baby yoga can be a really positive way to slowly introduce ourselves to the idea of being physical again. It can be a lovely experience to appreciate being in the moment and in tune with our bodies as well as our baby. It is also uplifting to be in a room with other mothers with small babies. It reiterates that we are not alone.
Walking is another really positive experience. Sometimes getting out of the house and the familiar four walls can do wonders for our mental health. There is a great sense of pride to be experienced as you push your pram around the local park parading your new found motherhood. These are the moments you dreamt about when you were pregnant. A short walk can give you some much needed head-space, fresh air and a chance to stretch your legs while your baby can look up at you smiling.
People will comment on the importance of looking after your tummy muscles before and after giving birth. There are exercises and stretches that can be done to improve and help their condition. However, during a rare moment of peace and quiet while your baby naps you are absolutely entitled to that biscuit and cup of tea you have been fantasising about all morning. Try to ignore the perfect celebrities and diet talk and do what you have to do to feel good during this precious period of your life.
As for the pelvic floor exercises? I am doing mine now as I munch on a croissant. Us mothers sure can multi-task.