Before I fell pregnant I exercised 6 days a week doing a mixture of cardio and resistance work. I would often spend an hour and a half in the gym and ran regularly – sometimes before a session in the gym.
When I found out I was pregnant I was determined to try to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle throughout the pregnancy. From shortly after I found out I was pregnant, however, I started to feel dizzy, nauseous and tired every morning. Through trial and error I found eating helped the nausea and when I actually got to the gym doing a little exercise immediately helped. Aside from eating, which I really could not do all day, the workout was the one point in the day when I did not feel sick or tired. So I continued to work out most days, but the length of my workout was reduced because I found the more I did the less energy I had for the rest of the day. I was also not sleeping very well so getting up at 5.30am to exercise before work was a real challenge!
The second trimester was great – The nausea went. I had a little bump so it was obvious I was pregnant (rather than just feeling a little fat!) and I had so much more energy. I was almost back to pre-pregnancy levels! Throughout the second trimester I was able to do cardio and resistance workouts. I continued spinning, running and doing weights. I had a big bump though and found running put a strain on my lower stomach muscles and I needed to pee almost as soon as I started to run. I started to wear a pregnancy support band for my cardio and that helped, but I found I just did not want to run or be on the elliptical machine for as long as I used to.
In the third trimester I suddenly started feeling extremely dizzy and faint every morning. It was so bad that I often had to lie down while it passed. It was as though morning sickness was back with a vengeance. I would still exercise, but very much slower than before! After several doctors and midwife appointments at 32 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes! I had none of the common warning signs so it had been overlooked, but my hormones meant I had developed it. With diet and continued exercise I was able to control the diabetes without medication. During my third trimester my exercise regime was further modified as my bump grew. But I made myself keep going to the gym and just doing something. I often did a light cardio workout followed by squats and upper body workouts. Throughout this time I walked all over Cologne too!
Overall I gained 40lbs in my pregnancy. But while I had gained weight all over through the exercise I managed to keep in some form of shape and most of my weight gain was the bump. I also did not suffer with any back pain or swelling and my energy levels were generally really good – I had kept going to the gym even if it was for a shorter workout.
After the birth of my wonderful baby boy (all 4.3kg or 9.5lb of him) I immediately started my kegals and some TVA exercises. It took me about a week to start going out for walks. For the initial week or so my walking was slow and short. I had stitches and found the energy had been sapped from me through the labour and a complete lack of sleep for well over a week.
Gradually I built up the walks and after my doctor sign off at 6 weeks I started to gradually introduce some more exercises to reconnect my core, strengthen my legs and rebuild my cardio levels. It is amazing how lacking in energy you become. Even as someone that stayed fit you cannot underestimate what the birth puts your body through. My goal was just to move each day. We walked and walked and I slowly over the months built on my exercises, doing slightly more, increasing the intensity, starting to run instead of walk, and lifting heavier weights.
I have continued to eat healthily most of the time, but as I am breastfeeding I have not dieted and have made sure I have kept my carbs up to maintain milk supply. Water has also been key in maintaining my milk supply. If I dropped the amount I drank my milk supply dropped.
I reached my pre-pregnancy weight at around 7 and half months postpartum. I did not rush things and allowed my body to heal. There were no gimmicks, no crazy diets or cleanses, no wraps and no insane exercises. I truly believe that a huge factor in my recovery was continuing the exercise throughout the pregnancy. Due to diastasis recti I have not done any crunches, but through my core exercises I have rebuilt my stomach and it looks from the outside to be back to where it once was.
Having a little one means I no longer spend hours at the gym. 30-40 minutes while he is in kids club or napping is my maximum. I have found ways to fit exercise into my life with a baby. It’s more of a challenge now, but through determination I make it work and that makes me feel better and more able to focus on being a good mum to my little boy too.
The two pictures on this page are me at 7 months pregnant and at 6 months postpartum.