Five painful truths about childbirth and my advice for how to successfully tackle fitness and motherhood.
Prepare your body for birth
Birth is not fun. Yeah, it hurts, as you’ve heard a million times, just like I had. I knew it would be crazy painful. I was ready. I was not ready. There is nothing like this pain. And I’m so sorry, but no matter what I say, you won’t figure this out until you’re about 2 inches dilated. All I can give you here is some well-researched truths that might help make things a little less painful. Mothers who work out leading up to birth, to the highest intensity that is comfortable for them, have better births. Women who actively work their cores through pregnancy also benefit. Squats are great. I also found exercise kept me sane during pregnancy.
Plan your recovery
Once the beautiful one comes out of you, no matter whether it took four hours naturally, or 48 hours and a sunroof, your body is going to be done. It’s like having surgery before doing a few LES MILLS GRIT™ classes, and then being handed a small baby. Recovery is key to success. Take at least two weeks to lay around as much as possible. During this time, consider a slow walk your equivalent to a full BODYPUMP™ class, and reward yourself accordingly.
When you feel ready, don’t expect your body to be on the same page. I thought I would be fine the second time around; I’d worked out all the way through, the birth was great, I was starving for a workout. I jumped back into exercise and almost instantly pulled my adductor. The reality is, you’re weaker now. Your pelvic floor took a hammering, as did your abs and thighs, and most likely everything else got a bit softer as you shifted your exercise to revolve around the safety of the baby. Assume you’re starting at zero, and then congratulate yourself for each step you can take from there. Our carefully designed post- pregnancy workouts are the perfect starting point.
Brace yourself for pain, frustration and hard work
This is the hard-ass bit. Once you are ready (and your pelvic floor is holding solid) you are going to have to work seriously hard to get your body back. Yay more pain! The reality is, if you’re like me, you gained a little more than you needed to during your pregnancy (who knew doughnuts went so well with fried pickles right?). Pregnancy weight is the hardest to lose. This is because pregnancy is the only time aside from puberty when a woman can actually grow more fat cells, rather than just increase the size of her current cells. Don’t be scared, you can do this, just think of birth (remember that fun time?) as your warmup.
Reset your goals
This part you’re going to like the least. Remember that old body, the tight flat stomach, the taut smooth skin? That is not you anymore. You carried another human being around inside of you. Things have changed. But not for the worse. Firstly because all the clichés are true. Your baby will mean more to you than anything you could have ever dreamt of, the stretch marks are worth it, and you now understand what your body is capable of. Secondly, because you have finally joined the secret worldwide club of Women Who Can. You are not the youthful, fluffy thing you once were. You are now the epitome of womanhood. Getting your body back is simply one more thing you are capable of. Yeah, it’s going to hurt, but when have you let that stop you before?
Visit www.lesmills.com/nordic/post-pregnancy-exercise and you’ll find all you need to know about looking after your body post birth – there’s free at-home workout videos, nutrition plans, helpful tips and more.
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Diana Archer Mills has a love of health and fitness running through her blood. She was just 12 when she started working in the gym owned by her parents (Phillip and Jackie Mills). Now, as Les Mills Creative Director she is behind the music and moves that feature in some of your favorite workouts. But that’s certainly not Diana’s most important role. Diana is a mom of four – so it’s fair to say she knows a fair bit about pregnancy, parenting and how to juggle a busy young family with a passion for health and fitness.