Getting back into shape after pregnancy

January 31, 2012 in Mums tips

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Image by Westfall on Flikr Creative Commons

Leah V makes us all jealous as she fits comfortably back into her my pre-pregnancy clothes.

We’ve come around to January again and it’s this time of year that Davina gets her abs out and tries to convince us that she is just like any working mum who struggles to stay in shape.

Celebrities across the spectrum of A-Z don their leotards and have their accountants on speed dial ready and waiting for when the royalties come in for their “revolutionary” fitness DVD, which, for many may only be used once, quite possibly by the man of the house!!

Just flick on the TV and you will be inundated with adverts promising that for a small fee, you could be a slimmed down version of yourself within weeks. The TV schedule is filled with a host of fat fighting, celeb slimming and designer diet programmes.

Yet before and during Christmas we were encouraged by our favourite TV chefs to lovingly ladle the goose fat to make our roast potatoes nice and crispy, Fry our sprouts with butter and bacon to make them more palatable, and slather on Baileys flavoured cream to anything sweet.

You could say that it’s a rotten time to become a mum really, as one of the things that we struggle with after we’ve after giving birth, is adjusting to what’s happened to our body and then trying to figure out how we can feel more normal.

My twins are 18months old now and I can finally say that my body is finally nearly back to what I would term “normal”. That is, I fit comfortably back into to my pre-pregnancy clothes and I can at long last to some semblance of a waist. To be honest, the first few weeks after having the twins, I lost a bit of weight quite quickly. I think with breast feeding combined with the stress of being a first time mum and struggling to find the time to eat in between feeding, changing and comforting the twins, it was no wonder the weight was dropping off. Once I stopped breast feeding and we got ourselves into a routine, the weight loss stopped. Then of course you have to wait for clearance from the doctor in order to exercise. As I didn’t have a caesarean it was much quicker for me.

Before I got pregnant with the twins I was very active and liked to keep fit, of course life before the twins was much more self indulgent, I could go to the gym all the time if I wanted to. When you have a baby you have to learn to adapt your life to suit your children’s needs and not vice versa. However, I was still very conscious that my body was different and that I would not be comfortable unless I tried to do something about it. I love my children very much and nurturing them is a focal point of my life, but it doesn’t mean that I have to forget about myself and what makes me feel good and being healthy, fit and in good shape is what makes me feel good both mentally and physically.

I know that there are many mums out there who are struggling with post baby weight and I guess what I want to try and do in this post is say that, there is no miracle cure to this and there is no quick solution, unless you have a load of money then you can go and get it all sucked out and tucked in. It has taken me 18 months to get to a point in which I’m 85% happy with how I look. I say 85% because I have the same niggles that I had even BEFORE I was pregnant and I’ve never been 100% happy anyway.

It was all as simple as healthy eating and plenty of exercise. I’m not talking starvation diet and being chained to the treadmill, call it the 90/10 rule, for six days eat as healthy as possible and for one day, don’t go over the top, but allow yourself to enjoy a treat, whether it is sweet or savoury.

I’d also say to just think about little things, do you eat your children’s left overs? Do you graze? Are you eating out of boredom? Sometimes having to be at home all day with baby can make you head for the cupboard or fridge.

It’s also very easy to play the too tired and frazzled to make proper meals card, but marinating a chicken breast and steaming vegetables takes less than 15 minutes. It also helps if you plan your meals a week in advance then it is easy to prepare.

I’m not going to patronise you and go through a long list of foods that are good and bad, everyone knows, it really is common sense, you don’t need to spend money on a diet book or DVD to tell you.

In terms of exercise, it’s best to start off slowly, don’t go crazy and think you have to compete with celebrity mums who just seem to snap back into shape. I walked (and still do) every day with the twins in the pram, choose a time when you think they might take a nap, this means you can go for a good 30-60mins. Plus getting outdoors is a good way to clear your head. I’m fortunate enough that I have my mother in law living near by so I am able to go to the gym twice a week. But you don’t need a gym to exercise and you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it, you can even split it into 15 min intervals throughout a day. Look online for post pregnancy workouts..that’s the beauty of the internet. Or invest in a couple of good DVD’s. I have a load called 10 minute solutions. Each DVD has five separate workouts split into 10 min workouts. I could do one or two sections whilst the kids were napping or playing with toys. I still do them now when the kids go to bed.

It’s important to talk to your partner, ask them for help, see if you can schedule in the week a couple of nights where you can concentrate on you, be it doing an exercise DVD or going to a local fitness class.

Don’t feel guilty about focusing on you, remember babies can detect your mood and frame of mind, if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, your emotions can often be transported to them and it becomes a vicious circle of you not feeling happy and them getting upset too.

I know that being a new mum is extremely time consuming and that there is just no time to fit everything in. If you want it to happen quickly then no, there is no time. For the first few months it can be a little difficult, and also for those of you who have to go back to work, time with baby becomes precious. If you really want to do it you will MAKE the time and effort. You just have to accept that it will be a slow journey..but I promise you there is a final destination.