Hi, I'm Emma, Premium Pilates and Fitness instructor and mum of two beautiful boys. I'm super passionate about how much I dislike seeing mums give themselves a hard time focusing on 'getting their pre-baby body back'. In fact, I'm so passionate about this topic that I wrote a blog about it!
Becoming a mother brings many new things.
Firstly there is your baby, a previous divine little being who wasn’t here a moment ago but now is the sun you orbit around.
There is a very particular type of exhaustion as you somehow manage to survive on fragmented sleep, waking more times per night than you can even remember.
There is also a pressure to be getting it right, while making it appear effortless at all times - and of course you’ve got your pre-baby figure back and are rocking your old jeans with ease!
Feeding this rhetoric around the easy retrieval of pre-baby bodies is an abundance of content on social media and in tabloid magazines.
Many shiny celebrities have managed to have a baby and then pose in skimpy lingerie or swimwear some weeks later, not an ounce of body fat or a single stretch mark in sight. Sometimes there is also the obligatory photo with the baby, where everyone is immaculately dressed in white with not an ounce of spit-up in sight. Ha!
Not only is this message around getting the pre-baby figure back unrealistic, but it is also damaging for vulnerable new mums, who really don’t need the pressure upon them.
PANDA (Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Australia) tell us that at least one in every five women experience anxiety, depression, or both during pregnancy and/or following birth (Ref 1).
We know that physical activity can be so beneficial in the treatment and maintenance of anxiety and depression (Ref 2). Unfortunately, new mums who are striving for that pre-baby body may potentially see exercise as a chore or punishment rather than the opportunity to move, breathe and feel good. Loving your post-baby body is not a phrase we hear often.
Let’s cease the rhetoric around the importance of getting your pre-baby body back. Your body hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s right there, perfect in its imperfections, waiting for you.
This was a concept I personally had to get on board with after the birth of my second child. My body did not recover as quickly the second time round - thanks to it being my second pregnancy and a more difficult birth, as well as the fact that there was very little time in the day to devote to postnatal recovery when two small humans required upkeep! When I started beating myself up about the jiggly belly or the big gap in my abdominal muscles, I tried to remind myself that it took nine months (ish) for my body to reach the end of pregnancy and allowing at least that duration, if not more, for recovery was necessary. I told myself that a woman’s body is different after having children and that is 100% OK.
Unfortunately, casting off our beliefs about what we “should” look like is easier said than done. One tactic is to focus on function rather than appearance. For after all, what use is a flat stomach if the underlying core muscles are imbalanced and result in back pain or incontinence? And what use are arms that look a certain way, if they are not strong enough to simultaneously carry a nappy bag and baby capsule, which sometimes seems equivalent to an Olympic lift!
Imagine if we as a society encouraged postpartum mums to focus on how to move better and support their post-natal healing, rather than fixating on a pre-baby weight. A world is possible where mums can love their post-baby body!
The talented Kate Winslet summed it all up when she said:
“We have one life. I don’t want to spend my time thinking about the size of my arse. I want to be as healthy as I can be, and I want to have as much fun as I can have. I want to be around for my children. That’s it. Those are the priorities. Not getting a flat stomach.”
Premium Pilates and Fitness offers a number of Mums & Bubs classes which provide new mums with the ability to focus on that function and return to exercise in a welcoming and nurturing environment, with their child right by their side. These classes give the opportunity to strengthen and balance the body, all whilst holding your child if necessary (although the instructors such as myself are quite partial to a baby cuddle or two during class!).
It is my hope that clients attending these classes do so not because they feel they have to in order to erase all physical evidence of ever being pregnant, but because they enjoy how good they feel after moving their body and getting stronger.
Thanks for reading everyone! If my story makes even one mum think a little more positively about herself then I'm stoked!
Read about our lovely client and mum of two Vesna and how she found Pilates helpful postnatally.