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IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:

Pregnancy is a time when many women gain weight. Some gain a little, while others gain a lot. And, for some women the battle to regain their body shape after pregnancy is a struggle.

However, regardless of how much weight is gained, it is vital during pregnancy. As additional weight promotes healthy foetal growth and also ensures that women can provide enough nutrition for their baby, if they elect to breast fed.

Often the amount of weight gained during pregnancy depends on the weight of a woman before she falls pregnant. According to the Institute of Medicine(IOM), women who have a standard body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 should gain 25 to 35 pounds or 11.4 to 15.9 kilograms. Underweight women with a BMI of 18.5 or less, should gain 28 to 40 pounds or 12.7 to 18.2 kilograms and, overweight women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 should gain between 15 to 25 pounds or 6.8 to 11.4 kilograms.

GAINING A LITTLE

Mandy Scammell, a 35-year-old freelance copywriter and mum of three, who has just launched an App for new mum’s called ‘Mum’s Manual’, says that she gained very little weight during her pregnancies.

“I gained six kilos in my first and second pregnancies and seven in my third,” said Scammell. “My children are aged 3, 2 and 8-weeks,” she said. “I kept my weight down in my first pregnancy by walking  to and from work every day, a six kilometre trip,” she said. “After my son was born, I did Les Mills Attack classes and swam on the weekends. My fitness routine didn’t change much.”

“With my second pregnancy, I did pretty much the same as the first,” said Scammell. “The third one was different, I had lots of health problems,” she said. “Bad veins and a clot, so I just swam two kilometres four to five times a week.”

“I craved milkshakes with my first two children, and salt for my third,” said Scammel. “I ate whatever I liked, and as much as I liked,” she said. “Diets aren’t for me.”

Scammell, who breastfed her babies, says that walking is the best way to get back into shape after pregnancy.

“Enjoy your pregnancy. Get outside and go for a walk, it’s good for your head and your bottom,” said Scammell. “People used to always comment on how small I was and how jealous they were that I walked out of hospital in my everyday jeans,” she said. “And yes, lucky for me, weight was never an issue. But, I had other health issues. Everyone gets dealt a different hand in life and you should never be jealous, just enjoy it, and yourself.”

Sharon Zeev Poole, director of Agent99 Public Relations, recently gave birth to her first child, Jesse at the age of 38-years. Zeev Poole, who is of slight build naturally, gained 13 kilograms during her pregnancy and confesses that she maintained her weight by also walking frequently and swimming.

“During my pregnancy I had a few issues with my back, so the only form of exercise I could really do was walking,” said Zeev Poole. “I would walk most days of the week for at least 30 to 45 minutes. I also did a bit of swimming in the first and second trimesters.”

Zeev Poole also monitored her weight gain during her pregnancy and stayed within recommended guidelines. However, she did not alter her diet a great deal.

“I ate as normally as when I wasn’t pregnant. The only thing I changed was that I added carbohydrates to my dinners, which I didn’t usually have prior to my pregnancy,” said  Zeev Poole. “I also used an electronic guide to measure how much weight I should be putting on for my height and weight prior to my pregnancy and, I tried to stick to this as closely as possible,” she said. “This was the most valuable thing that I could have done as it kept me in-line and very disciplined, which made losing it [the weight] afterwards quite easy.”

“I had no cravings really, but I did find myself quite sensitive to smells, for about a month, in the first trimester. So, I found that the things I didn’t like to eat before being pregnant, like fish, were even more disliked during that time,” said Zeev Poole.

Zeev Poole, who is breastfeeding, said that she lost most of the weight she gained during pregnancy shortly after giving birth.

“Fortunately, after giving birth, I lost around 10 kilos in the first three weeks,” said Zeev Poole. “I put it down to the summer heat and the crazy amount of water that I had retained when pregnant. At the moment, my lifestyle is very hectic. Running a business and being a mother leaves me little time to plan meals, so I try to eat sensibly and quickly,” she said. “I still have about 1.5kg to lose, but with my busy schedule the weight loss has luckily come quite naturally.”

To get back in shape, Zeev Poole walks three times a week for 45 minutes and is slowly working her way back to running, which she loves.

“My goal is to run the City2Surf and keep my time of 80 minutes,” said Zeev Poole. “My main advice, for mums, would be not to overdo it with food. Try and stick to a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy, because every kilo you put on you will have to lose after your child’s birth,” she said. “Try and keep to a range of weight to put on, and weigh yourself regularly, so that you’re keeping yourself in check. I weighed-in once a week on a Friday, and rewarded myself with something really yummy if I had gained within the healthy range.”

“My number one health and fitness tip is pretty simple,” said Zeev Poole. “Eat a balanced diet, exercise at least four times a week, and take care of yourself both mentally and physically,” she said. “The change that is about to come is quite monumental, so you want to be in the best shape to cope with it once baby comes along.”

Zeev Poole says that the biggest challenge she faced when pregnant was the change in her body shape and moving beyond the ‘baby brain’ comments as a director.

“I think what is challenging about being pregnant is accepting that your body is changing,” said Zeev Poole. “I’ve always had quite a small frame, so the extra weight became a bit of a struggle towards the end of my pregnancy,” she said.

“I also think that it’s important to stay as professional as possible at work.  I made it a point to stay focused and sharp as the director of Agent99 PR, both with clients and with my staff, so that I avoided any of the “baby brain” comments, or people taking me less seriously.”

“Other than that, it’s [pregnancy] a lovely time in your life because everyone around you really cares and looks after you,” said Zeev Poole. “They are excited about your baby coming into this world too.”

“Now that I have gone through it, I think being pregnant is the easy part,” said Zeev Poole. “It’s all about your attitude while you’re going through it. The more positive you are, the easier it is,” she said. “Don’t let it get in the way of anything you want to do. I travelled throughout and also ran a business up until the day before my c-section, so I never let it stop my life. I also enjoyed the time with my husband, friends and family as much as possible. Because when bub comes, you won’t know what hit you. You need all your strength to get through this very big change in your life,” she said. “Enjoy every minute of your journey, either side, as it will be the most challenging and rewarding time of your life.”

Angie, a 34-year-old mum of two, who is a veterinary nurse and pole dancing teacher at Miss Fit Dance Studio, believes that staying in shape during pregnancy has a great deal to do with your physical fitness prior to falling pregnant.

“Both of my pregnancies were pretty easy going,” said Angie. “I tried to stay as active as possible and I was still teaching pole dancing at Miss Fit until 18 weeks,” she said. “I did experience the general tiredness that comes with growing a baby and by 40-weeks, I was waddling like a duck.”

Gaining only 10 kilograms during both of her pregnancies, Angie says that she walked her dog most days for 30 minutes, with her first baby, right up until just before she gave birth. But, with her second child, she found running around after a toddler was tiring enough. Angie also continued teaching at Miss Fit until she was 18-weeks with both pregnancies.

“I think the core strength you build up pole dancing helped me through labour,” said Angie. “Both of my labour’s lasted less than 4-hours.”

“I ate what I felt like,” said Angie. “I have a pretty healthy diet as it is, so I didn’t feel the need to restrict myself with food,” she said. “I just made sure that I ate lots of vegetables and fruit and took my pregnancy multivitamin every day.”

“My cravings with my first baby consisted of fruit and cheeseburgers, although not at the same time,” said Angie. “During my second pregnancy, I craved carbohydrates, so lots of bread, pasta and rice.”

Angie says she’s obsessed with pole dancing and finds that it is an excellent form of fitness.

“It’s [pole dancing] just so addictive and I’m totally hooked. I couldn’t wait to get back to Miss Fit and build up my strength again after my pregnancies,” said Angie. “I feel fit, strong and relaxed after a pole workout. I think it’s the best way to tone and strengthen your body,” she said.

“It incorporates so many aspects of fitness training. At Miss Fit, we focus on core strength, which in turn improves your posture and muscle tone, increases your flexibility and generally makes you feel fabulous,” said Angie.

“Pole dancing helps with the physical aspects like strength, muscle tone and flexibility. It also creates a great sense of achievement,” said Angie. “At Miss Fit, most women come in and have doubts about their ability,” she said. “Eight weeks later, I’m like a proud Mum watching them nail their moves and having fun, especially on Graduation Night. The atmosphere at Miss Fit is really nurturing and supportive, which creates an environment where women can achieve their best.”

Not a person who believes in dieting, Angie recommends that pregnant mums eat well, rest well, stay active and ask for help if they need it. She is a firm believer that your body should be able to guide you. Though, Angie says she is a person who eats well in the first place. Her foods are typically fruit, stir fries, Sushi, and the odd chocolate and pizza, here and there.

Having breastfed her babies, Angie says that pole dancing is not for every woman after birth.

“I think it depends on the type of pregnancy and birth,” said Angie. “After my first pregnancy, I was back pole dancing within 6 weeks,” she said. “If you’re unsure, seek advice from your doctor. If the doc gives the ‘OK’, I would highly recommend it to all women,” she said. “In fact, mums are the largest growing demographic of Miss Fit students and the numbers keep rising.”

“Anyone can pole dance. Some moves may look impossible for someone who has never pole danced before, but remember that even the best pole dancers in the world probably felt exactly the same way before they started as a beginner,” said Angie.

GAINING A LITTLE MORE

Lynsey McGee, a 35-year-old personal trainer, boxing instructor and owner of a group training gym, says that she gained 15 kilograms when pregnant and that she lost fitness.

“I lost fitness, but maintained a fair bit of strength under the circumstances,” said McGee. “I Kept exercising all the way through but lowered the intensity and modified exercises as I went along,” she said.

“I boxed up until about 34-weeks and did weight training,” said McGee.”I also did cross-training that included a mixture of weights and body weight exercises, something like a circuit,” she said. “I used kettle bells and TRX, and changed some of my regular bar bell exercises to dumbbells.”

McGee ate more carbohydrates than she normally would during her pregnancy and her indulgences were white bread toast and butter, and milkshakes towards the end of her pregnancy.

“I tried not to eat what I felt like too much. I ate more carbs than I normally would and just a lot more generally,” said McGee. “I wouldn’t recommend dieting during pregnancy but you don’t need to eat heaps of cake either,” she said. “I think you can really fall into a trap of saying, “well it doesn’t matter I’m going to get fat anyway… I think you should eat as much as you want but try to make good choices.”

McGee, who is breastfeeding, says that to get back in shape after the birth of her baby she is eating good foods and getting back into exercise.

“I am trying to be sensible,” said McGee. “I think for the first  six weeks you’re really too exhausted to do much and dieting takes too much planning,” she said. “I try to avoid sugar really, and anything that’s too fatty. I am doing boxing and weight training – pretty much what I did before the baby. But, I cannot run. Breast-feeding boobs and running don’t mix I don’t think.”

“To get back in shape, I suggest a varied training routine that you will always stick with it,” said McGee. “I run a mums and bubs class in the park. I think it’s hard for mums who don’t have anyone to look after their babies while they train and it’s also an opportunity for something a bit social,” she said. “Because being a mum for the first time can be quite isolating.”

Stephanie Epiro, restaurant owner and freelance writer, gained 18 kilograms during her first pregnancy and did not adhere to the recommended nutritional guidelines.

“I gained too much weight during my first pregnancy,” said Epiro. “I didn’t subscribe to the conventional pregnancy guidelines of avoiding sushi, raw meats, fresh cheeses, alcohol and coffee,” she said. “I’ve just come from seven years of living in Italy and there the focus is eating healthy, freshly prepared whole foods and alcohol is permitted every now and then. Not that I consumed these no-no’s on a daily basis. But, if I wanted a half glass of wine with dinner every other week, I drank it, especially in the second and third trimesters.”

“I went to a high-end Japanese restaurant and ate the sushi that they prepared fresh from the fish market,” said Epiro. “I shopped at a local farmers market, and prepared a lot of wholesome meals at home, but I also allowed myself to indulge now and then,” she said. “I mean what other time in your life can you eat what you want, when you want?”

“I have friends who have eschewed any type of salad or fresh ingredients during pregnancy because of the listeria risk. Instead, they chose to eat take-away and fast foods, which I personally think offers much less nutritional value to you and your baby.”

“I craved pasta with butter and parmesan cheese and fried dishes, as well as Allens Lollies,” said Epiro. “All of these things are the absolute worst for weight gain.”

Epiro, 36, says that she walked the dog every day and did pregnancy yoga three times a week to maintain her fitness. After the birth, she downloaded training podcasts by Tracey Anderson and Jillian Michaels, her favourite American trainers.

“At five months after the birth, I was exasperated at not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, especially my skinny jeans,” said Epiro. “So, I cut out all the bad things from my diet for a couple of months. That meant no grain and no dairy, no sugar and alcohol,” she said. “It was so hard but the results happened only after a few weeks and I feel so much better for it. I am now back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and have about five kilograms to go.”

“I recommended that pregnant mums don’t eat with too much abandon during pregnancy,” said Epiro. “Losing the baby weight is tough, especially when you have a newborn to deal with,” she said. “Prepare healthy meals at home, instead of reaching for take-away. Indulge, but balance it out by eating vegetables and fruit, grass-fed meats, full-fat dairy foods and by drinking lots of water.”

Pregnancy was challenging for Epiro, as she says it was unplanned and could not have come at a worse time in her life.

“It [pregnancy] made me super tired, crazy and worried. I, personally, suffered from pre-natal depression as it was an unplanned pregnancy at a particularly stressful period in our lives, we were about to open a restaurant, ” said Epiro. “Pre-natal yoga and sessions with a therapist helped me get back on track,” she said. “And, so did eating more healthily and spacing out the times when I did eat an overload of sugar or a processed food.”

“After birth, I found that dieting was really 75% of losing my weight,” said Epiro. “Exercise will only tone you up,” she said. ” And sit-ups aren’t a shortcut to a flat stomach, cutting out white carbohydrates is.”

GAINING A LOT

Lianne Shadwell, a 26-year-old women’s fitness trainer at Flaunt It, gained 26 kilograms with her first pregnancy.

“I remained active throughout my whole pregnancy, ” said Shadwell. ” I walked most days for an hour, did a prenatal yoga class once a week to realign and stretch my tight body. Plus, I also trained myself in the gym using light weights to maintain as much muscle as possible,” she said. “I did more during the second trimester, as this was when I was feeling the best and had the most energy. Towards the end, I spent more time in the pool swimming than in the gym and I went for shorter walks in the evening.”

“During my pregnancy I didn’t follow a diet, other than to eat as much nutrient enriched foods as I could face,” said Lianne. “I had terrible morning sickness for the first 15-weeks which made eating a challenge,” she said. “I ate more potatoes and red meat compared to my usual diet and plenty of fruit.”

“I craved salty foods and for a period was hooked on noodles and scrambled eggs for breakfast,” said Shadwell.

“Since having my little girl, I have continued to walk every day and found this the most achievable exercise during the first couple of months,” said Shadwell. “Since then, I have also been going to the gym at least three times per week and I do floor exercises at home to regain my core strength,” she said.

“I am also eating good foods to help bring my weight back down and maintain a healthy body,” said Shadwell. “A typical day for me at the moment consists of a breakfast of two on toast with avocado and spinach or oats, if I’m in a rush,” she said. “I snack on mixed nuts, figs and fresh fruit. Lunch is typically a homemade chicken and vegetable soup, as I always keep a batch in the fridge. And dinner, consists of stir fry vegetables and chicken or sometimes organic meatballs on rice pasta in tomato based sauce.”

Shadwell, who is breastfeeding, says that it is important to go easy on yourself before and after birth, and that you get into as much of a routine as possible. But, at the same time be flexible.

“Look after yourself too, talk to your support person and allocate time for training,” said Shadwell. “Also prepare as much food in advance to help you stick to eating healthy regularly,” she said. “Do some form of exercise every day, even if it’s only a walk or some floor exercises. You will feel more energised and good about your body as it returns back to normal.”

“We gain a considerable amount of weight and we’re supposed to feel good about it,” said Shadwell. “Hormones surge through our body that we can barely control. One minute we are hungry the next we are turning green-in-the-face and can’t eat a thing, she said.

“A friend told me we go through “the mourning stage” where we mourn the life we had, the career, the sexy-body and high energy levels,” said Shadwell. “But hey, we go back and do it again, and it is all worth it,” she said.

“Since I had my little girl, I have been working with new mums helping them get their bodies back into shape,” said Shadwell. “Training, specifically, to strengthen their core and improve their overall strength and fitness,” she said.

“Training new Mums is rewarding, said Shadwell. “After experiencing the journey the body goes through first-hand and understanding how physically and mentally challenging it can be. I want to support new mums to regain confidence within themselves,” she said. “As well as the physical strength they had before pregnancy.”

April Palmerlee, a 44-year-old stay at home mum of four children aged 11, 7, 5 and 1-year, gained 35-kilograms during her last pregnancy. Palmerlee says that pregnancy was much easier when she was younger.

“I gained about 20 kilos during my other pregnancies. It was much easier when I was younger, as I was able to exercise throughout my other pregnancies and didn’t gain as much weight,” said Palmerlee. “With this last one, though, I ballooned-up so quickly and everything was so, um, jiggly that it was really uncomfortable to do much after the first half,” she said. “I weighed 93-kilos the week before bub was born. Now I am, thankfully, down to 58 kilos.”

“I jogged in the first trimester. After that, I used the elliptical trainer at the gym until I was 5 months pregnant. After that, I stopped.”

“As a busy mother, I just ate whatever was available, mostly kids’ leftovers,” said Palmerlee. “No special diet though, although I did give up alcohol and caffeine during my third pregnancy six years ago and I have never taken it up again,” she said. “Now I am eating less, a lot less. I run every single day, usually about 120-130kms per week,” she said. “There is no secret formula, alas. It’s just slow and steady and hard work every single day.”

Palmerlee believes that when pregnant women need to forget about outside pressures and just enjoy being pregnant.

“We put a lot of emphasis on our bodies and, in a way, they define us,” said Palmerlee. “But, if you’ve always been fit, it’s hard to see your belly and bum and breasts all growing so uncontrollably big,” she said. “I think we need to ease off the vanity during pregnancy and allow our bodies to do what is best for the baby, not just what looks good to the people around us.”

“Keeping fit and active during pregnancy should be something you do to make yourself feel happy, not to try to “keep” your body looking like it did before,” said Palmerlee. “That’s just not going to happen,” she said. “There is time afterwards to get back into shape. Just don’t leave it too long.”

Palmerlee attended a mothers and babies group to initially help her baby weight shift.

“After the baby was born, I started going to a mums and bubs pram fit class at the YMCA. It was one hour, two or three times a week and that was about all I could manage,” said Palmerlee. “After six months, my husband was able to take a week off work to look after the baby and I was able to get out and start running again,” she said. “I ran every day that week and started to notice a change. By 10 months, I was able to re-join my runners’ group in Centennial Park and start running seriously again. And now, 13 months into it, I just did my first Post-Baby Marathon, and ran a personal best.”

“Also, after the baby was born, I started paying more attention to what I ate, and how much,” said Palmerlee. “Eating less is the only way I’ve found to lose weight. Doesn’t matter what you eat, you just have to start convincing yourself that it’s ok to be hungry sometimes and that eating smaller portions won’t starve you,” she said. “Lots of smaller “meals” work well for me, such as a piece of avocado toast for breakfast, a piece of fruit for morning-tea, a bit of protein or carbs for lunch, veggies and cheese after school with the children, and then a very light dinner.”

Palmerlee, who breastfed her children advises pregnant mums to try and stay active for as long as possible.

“Try to stay active as long as you can,” said Palmerlee. “The more you can exercise, the better you will feel about yourself and the pregnancy. And the easier it will be to reclaim your body afterwards,” she said.

“After you have the baby, find something you’re passionate about,” said Palmerlee. “Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. If you can find something you love doing and some people you enjoy doing it with, it can be the highlight of your day. It also might be the only time you have for yourself in an otherwise baby-centred existence,” she said.

“I can’t say I loved being pregnant. I loved what it brought, of course, my children are my universe,” said Palmerlee. “But, I didn’t like getting out of breath going up the stairs or feeling squashed in a seat at the cinema,” she said. “I developed a little bit of an understanding of what it’s like to be overweight long-term and how hard it must be to even take those first few steps towards slimming down. It must seem so daunting and nearly impossible. But, it is possible for everyone, and with the right advice and encouragement, it [weight loss] can be enjoyable.”

SOLUTIONS TO PREGNANCY WEIGHT GAIN

TWO FIST WEIGHT LOSS METHOD

Sally Asher, 39-year-old mother of three and a health and science weight loss coach, who is the founder of the ‘Two Fist Weight Loss Method, says that she gain 30 kilograms during each of her pregnancies.

“While living in Paris with a French family, I lost 12 kilos and have kept it off for 10 years,” said Asher. “The French taught me how to eat appropriate portion sizes of real food and stick to three balanced meals a day where nothing is forbidden,” she said. “As a former yo-yo dieter, this was revolutionary for me. The “Two Fist Weight Loss method” is based on what I learned from the French – eating what you love, but only between hunger and satisfaction. Given that our stomachs at rest are about the size of our fist, two fistfuls of food at each meal is all we need to reach our healthy weight.”

Asher says during her pregnancies she ate a little a lot.

“I really tried to listen to my body’s wisdom and trusted in it by eating when I was hungry and stopping when satisfied,” said Asher. “I didn’t use pregnancy as an excuse to over-eat without scruples, because I knew that it would make it harder after the birth to lose the weight,” she said. “I listened to my cravings and satisfied them with small amounts. I ate smaller meals, more frequently, because I was hungrier. But, also I couldn’t eat too much at once. I always tried to choose foods with some redeeming nutritional value and aimed for quality over quantity.”

” I exercised with daily 30 minute walks at a good pace followed by 10 minutes of yoga stretching,” said Asher. “After giving birth I walked, did abdominal work to strengthen my core and elliptical workouts when I felt strong enough,” she said.

Asher advises new mums and those who are pregnant to not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat without scruples.

“Treat yourself with kindness and eat small amounts of whatever you are craving,” said Asher. “Try not to be anxious about losing the weight after the birth, it will happen naturally, and gradually, with balanced eating and regular exercise,” she said. “Don’t compare yourself with celebrities who drop their baby weight in six weeks. It took me six months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and everyone is different.”

“Do daily exercise, even just walking for 20 minutes,” said Asher. “Start the day with lemon juice and water to cleanse the liver and alkaline the body,” she said.

PERSONAL TRAINING

Timo Topp, a personal trainer with 20-years experience, specialises in training mums. His program called ‘Yummy Mummy’ is aimed at getting women back into their jeans that they loved before falling pregnant.

Stephanie Hack, a 32-year-old full-time mum and user of Timo’s program says that finding a personal trainer has really helped her move her baby weight.

“I did a little bit of exercise when pregnant, mainly yoga and walking,” said Hack. “I followed my doctor’s advice on food to avoid, but generally I ate what I liked, without worrying too much about my growing hips, bum and tum,” she said.

“Since having Jess the weight really piled on, so I sourced a personal trainer to help me get back into shape,” said Hack. “Now I have a weekly workout session with Timo and try to go running on the weekends, as well as do sit-ups and push-ups whenever I can during the week,” she said.

“I breast fed Jess for the first six months. My weight gain really started after I stopped breast feeding, as I forgot to reduce the amount I was eating,” said Hack. “I found a personal trainer that was a great answer to my situation,” she said. “As fitting exercise into my very limited personal time was a challenge, and I’m not much of a gym goer. This type of focused training helped build my confidence and now I have far greater motivation to get out and do more exercise on the weekends.”

“Personally, I think it is good for mum’s to maintain some level of exercise,” said Hack. “Do yoga or Pilates, it is great, as it helps in childbirth and allows your body to recover afterwards.”

Chloe, 40, who is a stay-at-home mum and another user of Timo’s Yummy Mummy program agrees with Stephanie.

“It is hard to get started,” said Chloe. “But once you do, you really value it and the benefits, and it becomes part of your routine,” she said. “You are really tired when you have a new baby and busy. But, training is worth it because you start to feel better for it. More energy. Look better. Lose weight.  This all adds to being a happier mum.”

“Getting a trainer is definitely worth while as they help you stay on track with your-exercise as well as turn up to a session,” said Chloe. “Timo is the best. He even holds my bub, so I can feel the burn,” she said.

“I have a training session with Timo, once a week. This consists of boxing, weights, TRX, sprints, the use of a Bosu, all in a circuit type routine,” said Chloe. “It’s continuous exercise, not much rest. Then I power walk and go to a spin class twice a week.”

SRC RECOVERY SHORTS

Skye and Alison, however, were two mums who found exercise difficult during pregnancy and after, due to their medical conditions. However, they found a solution that enabled them to not only exercise, but also enjoy their everyday lives.

Skye says that she had read so many articles and heard from friends about how wonderful being pregnant was that she couldn’t wait to experience it for herself. Unfortunately, her experience wasn’t the fairy tale that I had read about.

“At 18 weeks, my gynaecologist and a physiotherapist diagnosed me with pelvic instability. I wasn’t even half way through and was terrified that I had so long to suffer with what was already debilitating pain,” said Skye.

“I was at a loss, had stopped exercising and was about to give up work, all at only 18 weeks,” said Skye. “I then stumbled upon the SRC Recovery Shorts at the Baby and Toddler Show,” she said. “I was sceptical, but my husband reminded me that we had a long way to go, and had nothing to lose. The SRC team fitted me on the spot and I walked out of the Show wearing a pair of the pregnancy pants. Within four hours I had minimal pain and, within 24 hours I was pain free. I couldn’t believe it.”

“The pregnancy pants were worn by me day and night for the next two weeks and then during the day, right up to the birth of our beautiful daughter, Hannah,” said Skye. “The only time I experienced any pain during the remainder of my pregnancy was when I washed the pants and went a day without wearing them,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that in such a short time, I went from being pain free and active to in complete agony and unable to even walk the length of our house.”

“I found the pregnancy pants so versatile, and wore them under dresses, trousers, and even under my gym gear,” said Skye. “The gym instructors at ‘Preggi Bellies’ were totally shocked about my transformation. They couldn’t believe I’d gone from a woman that couldn’t even walk to someone who joined their classes three times a week,” she said. “On top of these classes, I also walked every day. This included the day that Hannah was born. Plus, I was able to continue to work until 39-weeks when I went on maternity leave.”

Alison, an Osteopath, went into her pregnancy and labour knowing all the theory. But, she was not prepared for the experience in reality.

“I was not prepared for the worry, the tiredness and my own strange set of aches and pains,” said Alison. “I was even more under prepared for what it would be like following labour and delivery. This is the part of pregnancy that women don’t talk about,” she said. “My main problem was aching in my pelvic floor that lasted 3-4 weeks following Emma’s uncomplicated, natural delivery.”

“I noticed that any lifting, walking small distances and standing more than 20 minutes would result in an aching sensation in my pelvic floor,” said Alison. “This would worsen and be constant towards the end of the day,” she said.

“I decided to try the SRC recovery shorts,” said Alison. “After my first day of wearing the shorts, I was pleasantly surprised by the significant increase in activity I could achieve before the aching would start,” she said. “The intensity of discomfort I experienced was also markedly decreased.”

“The shorts increased stability within my pelvic joints and improved tone of the pelvic muscles and the pelvic floor,” said Alison. “I believe that being able to be active again, safely, without causing further damage to my pelvic floor, markedly sped up my labour recovery physically, mentally and aesthetically,” she said. “The shorts were very comfortable and were able to be worn easily under clothes to give me a great silhouette and increased confidence.”

Breastfeeding

Leonie MacDonald, 36, a writer, editor and primary school teacher, breastfed both of her children.

“I had learned quite a lot about breastfeeding during my pregnancy and I wanted to breastfeed,” said MacDonald. “I didn’t always feel that way though. When I first became pregnant the thought of breastfeeding was quite unappealing to me,” she said. “I learned about the health benefits to my baby, but I was unaware of the health benefits to women. I had imagined the very first feed would be very natural and instinctive. But that first breastfeed felt very strange indeed.”

“My reading helped me a great deal. But, until you get there nothing can prepare you for what it feels like to be a mother or to breastfeed your baby,” said MacDonald. “I was so in love with my baby and I was surprised at how breastfeeding is connected to your emotions,” she said. “All I had to do was think I heard my baby cry out and my milk would start to flow. Rather amusing when you’ve actually heard a dog howling or someone else’s child cry.”

Leonie says that breastfeeding for her was not all smooth sailing. It took time to master and she had to overcome some issues.

“I had trouble with an oversupply and the let down of milk was too forceful for my newborn,” said MacDonald. “Bubs used to cry and gag on the milk and I struggled with engorgement and mastitis. I never expected this to happen. I never read about it any books,” she said. “Breastfeeding was also very sticky and uncomfortable at first. It was the middle of a very hot summer and milk would gush out whenever I fed. By around 12 weeks, the issues settled down and I adjusted to breastfeeding,” she said. “Some advice from the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) helped me calm down my milk supply and my husband was very supportive. After that I found it straightforward. I fed to my baby’s cues and we breastfed as often as he needed to. I found breastfeeding easier second time round.”

“Breastfeeding provides so many benefits to babies and mums once you settle into it. Plus, it can be so convenient,” said MacDonald. “It is highly nutritious for babies and toddlers, and provides immunity and comfort in a physical and emotional form,” she said. “I read recently that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has added breastfeeding to their list of things you can do to protect your baby.”

“My experience has been that breastfeeding helped me to shed the pregnancy kilos easily with no effort or stress. I’ve since learnt of so many other health benefits to the mother,” said MacDonald. “With breast cancer in my family, I’m thrilled to know that my breastfeeding has given me some extra protection,” she said.

“I have noticed both times I have been pregnant and given birth that as my children have begun to wean I have begun to put back on a little weight,” said MacDonald.  “And although I have lost my baby weight easily after both my pregnancies, I do not believe that I am actually fit,” she said. “Lifting a 12 kilogram toddler gives me strength, but I do not get enough regular exercise to have stamina. I think it might be time for some dancing and yoga to increase my energy levels and fitness.”

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