Sam is a personal trainer based in Brisbane with an online presence as “The Healthy Me” who offers complete lifestyle coaching to help women live positively and seize each day. Sam is a genuine soul who always speaks from the heart, and we really appreciate her sharing her insight with us. Sam explains the challenges and rewards of adjusting post-baby and gives us her tips on getting back into fitness and wellbeing.
Truthfully, post baby is an area I’m really nervous to speak about. I don’t think enough is out there about fitness, health and wellbeing post-partum though, so I do feel lucky to have this platform to hopefully connect with new mums with similar feelings.
Everything I had read or seen about keeping healthy and fit during pregnancy lead me to believe that it would make recovery post baby quite “easy”. I had followed lots of fit new mums on social media and watched them “bounce back” within weeks. I had kept active throughout my pregnancy and was feeling great. I continued my cardio, strength and weight training right up until the day Paddy was born. I felt lucky because I knew some women had to stop exercise much earlier due to how they felt, the baby’s position, their own health etc., but I was blessed with a very smooth pregnancy.
My birth with Paddy was a very fast, natural birth. I laboured at home for 3 hours and then within an hour and a half at the hospital we met our beautiful little Patrick. I really enjoyed the birth; yes it was painful but it is incredibly what your body does instinctually.
The first three weeks after birth I did very, very little. I was still in pain and because Paddy’s delivery was so quick, my pelvic floor muscles didn’t have that time to slowly stretch; so even walking after having him was difficult. Morning walks and cardio were out and I couldn’t even think of doing weights. Added to this was the fog of sleep deprivation which is an absolute KILLER. I would find keys in the fridge, wake up terrified that Paddy was tangled in our sheets (he was safe in his bassinet of course) and stringing sentences together was tricky. Exercise and nutrition honestly couldn’t have been further from my mind.
Fast forward to now, almost 6 months post birth and I still feel like I’m inside a body that isn’t mine. I have been cautious and urge other new mums to do the same… smashing out workouts that may cause long term problems just isn’t worth it! The hardest thing to accept is that my body is changing because it needs to. I am breastfeeding Paddy and with that comes hormonal changes. Working with a women’s physiotherapist has helped me understand that my body at the moment is temporary and my focus is feeding my baby. I honestly find it hard to accept that intense workouts or nutritional changes affect my milk supply, so easing back a little ensures I can feed Paddy and sustain a good supply. I knew I would surrender my body during pregnancy, but I didn’t know breastfeeding, delivering a baby and recovery from birth also change your body.
I don’t want this blog to sound too negative, because at almost 6 months now, I can honestly say I am really enjoying being a mum. I love my days with Paddy and watching him giggle is just the best. However, the changes to my body and lifestyle are something I need to grow to love. I think it’s just the next chapter with self-love which I think is a constant and evolving journey for all women.
Fitness wise, at the moment I go for a walk every day with Paddy after his first feed in the morning and love it. It’s great to start the day actively and show Paddy the great outdoors! I try to do 2-3 strength workouts a week and I also run my group fitness session for my beautiful clients. There are things I can’t do at the moment (like chin ups!) that do get me down, but then I try to focus on what I can do or what’s improving. I did find walking hard in the beginning and now love my 45 minute morning walk pushing the pram up and down hills in the sunshine, I can now run and I can train all muscle groups with I workout, so I appreciate those things.
My biggest tips to women post-partum with fitness and wellbeing would be:
– Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. There are so many variables in pregnancy, birth and beyond. Note: there is ALWAYS more to the story with people on social media, remember they’re showing you what they want you to see.
– Find your tribe and love them hard! I have never loved my friends and family more than I do right now. Reach out and talk. Find an exercise buddy. Whatever works!
– Practise gratitude. I like to write 3 things I’m grateful for each day. It makes you look for the positive in each day.
– Find exercise you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
– I like the mantra “today I will thank my body, rather than criticise it”.
I really do enjoy exercising and eating well and will continue to do that just as I did before I had Paddy. I think the difference now is just that I can’t be as ‘selfish’ with my time, and that’s okay. I have the rest of my life to master chin ups again, but these beautiful days with Paddy as a baby are fleeting.