Getting out of bed and heading out to exercise when you’re sleep deprived and hormonal, with a baby to take care of is hard. It’s ridiculously hard. Some days it’s impossible.
I’m Sally, I’m lucky enough to be married to Jonathon from Authentic Health and Fitness, and we have two absolutely adorable, precious and remarkable kids. Jonathon thought it might help some other mum’s out there to hear from someone who’s not a natural athlete, and whose body has gone through the challenges of becoming a mum.
Jonathon lives and breathes exercise. I have always found it more of a chore, but before I had kids we would exercise every day. I would even consider myself fit!
Carrying a baby for 9 months, birth, breastfeeding (If you choose to do so), hormones, sleep deprivation, stress, and everything else that goes with becoming a mum takes an unbelievable toll on your body.
After having a baby there’s a lot of pressure to ‘get your body back’, and with two kids under my belt I’m no expert, but I think it’s actually a whole new body. It’s strong and amazing. It’s not less than it was, it’s capable of being a mum which it’s a whole new level of normal.
I can specifically remember attempting my first run after having baby number 1. My boobs hurt, they bounced, my stomach skin moved in ways that were so indescribably uncomfortable I got straight off the treadmill and cried. I couldn’t do it. I went back to going for walks, and lucky for me had supportive mum friends that would walk too and meet me at a cafe so we could catch up and debrief about how ours days and nights are going.
I wanted to go for runs with Jonathon, pushing baby in the pram, but no sports bras could make me feel comfortable. Jonathon helped me to realise that’s ok! I don’t have to run, I can go for a walk, lift weights, and still be healthy. I even had one of my mum friends come to the gym with me, and our little ones went to the gym creche together.
When my breastfeeding journey eventually came to an end, my boobs were less bouncy and my tummy tightened up. I looked into sports bras (turns out wearing two at once is all that works for me now), tighter running pants, new shoes, and I was off. I even ran the Adelaide city-bay which is 12km, 14 months after baby number 1 was born. It’s not a massive achievement for some, but it was the furthest I’ve ever run and I was so proud of myself!
My tips for how to get out and exercise after you’ve had a baby:
- Get a good sports bra! Or rig up something that works for you
- Wear pants that make you feel comfortable and hold in your stomach skin, so you don’t feel self conscious
- Wear a loose fitting top
- Get a GOOD walking pram – big wheels, tall enough handle, space for a drink bottle!
- Its useful to have a supportive partner who doesn’t pressure you into looking a certain way, and helps you on your exercise journey (this is also useful when you need time away from baby, to get some fresh air and reset)
- Join a mum’s group or head out and meet some friends for a walk, it’s good for your physical and mental health during this time! My mum friends kept me sane!
- Organising to meet someone either at the gym, an exercise class or going for a walk is a great motivator to get you going when you might wake up tired, knowing someone is expecting you to come is a push to get you there
- There are plenty of mum’s and bubs exercise classes around also (If baby can sit still long enough, and if not, chasing baby around is part of the fun!)
Just remember some days exercise is just too hard, and that’s OK. Some days you might feel really tired, but you might be surprised that you actually feel better after going for a walk, or at the very least, going for a walk might not make you feel any more tired than you already do. On top of this, most babies love the pram, they love to look around and see new things, which can help when they’re cranky and it’s a great way to get them off to sleep when they’re refusing to nap.
I’m currently almost 9 months post baby number two, and second time around my body feels completely different than last time. I’m sure everyone experiences different challenges, but I’m hopeful that it is helpful to read an honest perspective of what it feels like a rather than a sugar coated Hollywood style postpartum picture to make you feel like you’re failing. Start small, do something manageable and as you progress you’ll be able to do more.
Jonathon says good luck in your health and fitness journey, and remember to stay true to yourself. I’d like to add, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re amazing mumma! You’ve got this! You can do it!