My Fitness Struggle After Childbirth

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Growing up in Melbourne, I was always exposed to health and fitness. My dad was and still is a swimming fanatic and I was ‘guided’ (or pushed!) into a similar path, becoming a surf life saver at a very young age. I practiced Karate for around seven years, but to be honest, it wasn’t all a big passion for me.

I grew up loving food, and in turn I was ‘the fat kid’. It ‘wasn’t until my mid teens that I discovered ‘my body’ and began to take an interest in fitness. From the age of sixteen, it all changed. From mixed martial arts to triathlons to Bikram and crossfit – you name it, I loved it. I love sweating and feeling my body work.

After settling down with my husband, Liran – I was really excited to start a family. I knew that it was essential to stay fit and healthy not just for me, but also for my baby that was to be.

Remembering back to that point of my life, which was about four years ago – I remember being quite scared and even confused. I mean, what would it mean for my fitness? What could I do, what couldn’t I do? Would I suffer PND? I am sure that anyone planning to get pregnant can relate to the scary voices I had in my head asking millions of questions.

I decided to take it upon myself and to follow my gut. I was to to start ‘pre-pregnancy training’. I changed my workout routine and geared it towards the things I had heard from other woman in regards to problems after birth, but to be honest- nothing could have prepared me for what would happen once I delivered my daughter, Shai.  Apart from severe morning sickness (which funnily enough was only relieved by eating and exercise), my pregnancy was smooth and healthy.

It’s what came next, that I wasn’t prepared for.

Firstly, my labor was extremely painful with no epidural, I went into it quite arrogant to be honest, confusing physical strength for superhuman strength. I wasn’t prepared for the pain, but I guess no woman is, right?

Moving forward to the weeks after birth, I was happy that my tummy wasn’t looking too bad – but that wasn’t too much of a concern. I was so in love with Shai that nothing else seemed to matter. Because of my ‘preventative plan’ and keeping up with my fitness, I was able to return to exercise 4 weeks postpartum – at a slow pace, of course.

Once I started moving around and getting into the groove of motherhood I was shocked to have so many ‘surprises’ ahead of me. I mean – what the heck is with the weight of prams? Who made them so heavy? I remember lifting the pram into the boot a few weeks after birth and thinking to myself: What if I wasn’t already fairly strong? How does anyone lift these things? I breastfed Shai for 10 months. Why didn’t anyone warn me that my child would be attached to me nearly the whole time? My posture suffered the most. I hadn’t really thought about it and wished I had worked a bit harder on my core strength and back/shoulders – as I realised it would take a lot of hard work to align my body again.

I am grateful that I didn’t suffer diastasis recti (abdominal separation). The nurse was very impressed and I was again, quietly happy that some of my pre-pregnancy training had paid off. Preventative, preventative, preventative!

Moving forward to now, we are planning to get pregnant again. When we decided it was time for our second – my mind filled with all the ‘issues’ that I had faced and I knew that now was the time to start with my ‘pre-pregnancy’ training.

It wasn’t until I had a few friends confide in me with their personal struggles during pregnancy, whether it was body issues, depression or just some of the hard things that come with it, which left me feeling really helpless. I wish they had come to me earlier so I could have helped – I just wanted them to feel great on the inside and out.

During a training session, I said to my crossfit coach that I was training ‘pre-pregnancy’ . One of my little goals was to be able to do a pullup whilst pregnant so I was working on my pullups. It’s then that I thought to myself “why isn’t there a program for pre-pregnancy”?

I rushed home and turned to Google like a mad woman. I was shocked to find nothing of the kind. I found thousands prenatal exercise programs and postnatal body transformation alternatives – but no fitness and wellness program to help women before conceiving.

I know that if you haven’t been training before pregnancy, women are often advised not to begin a new exercise program. There is a grey area there – but in general you need to be careful once you get pregnant in terms of workouts.

So, am I happy with my post-baby body now? I don’t think I’ll ever be happy but I have come to peace with the fact that my body is my temple and the way that I create life. The moments that I pull up my T-shirt in the mirror and grab that little bit of skin on my belly, I know that every woman can relate to. It’s ok not to be perfect. My training actually keeps my endorphins pretty in check so my mood is generally happy and helps me deal with any of these ‘mirror moments’.

So if anyone reading this is at the same stage as me (pre-pregnancy), if it’s your first pregnancy or not – keep your awareness on the changes that will happen to your body postpartum. It’s just natural that our bodies will change and endure a ‘hit’. We hold and nurture a baby for 9 months, then we give birth – it wouldn't be natural if our bodies didn’t change. The reality is that it doesn't stop (sorry ladies) once you give birth – yes, I was surprised too. Little things like posture and overall strength are essential before the journey begins so it can be a much easier ride later on.

Stay amazing, we truly are super-human and I believe that if we spread the knowledge about a preventative approach, we can help women all around the world.

Nicole Brodie's 'Fit & Fabulous Pre-Pregnancy' program offers fitness and wellness training for women to strengthen body and mind ahead of pregnancy and childbirth challenges.
The program is delivered online and it consists of a 3-month fitness regime which is broken down into three weekly sessions – each one lasting no longer than 30 minutes. The 'Fit & Fabulous Pre-Pregnancy' program is delivered fully online through videos, illustrations, trackers and motivational tools to help women succeed. In addition, it includes resources for better nutrition, mindfulness and lifestyle adjustments, to bring women around the world the knowledge, support and encouragement needed for this most magical journey.  For more information and to join the program – please visit Nicole's website by clicking here.