There are times when women in the public eye really make me want to puke. They project such unreal images of women, in so many phases of their lives. The one that really gets me going is post baby. Six weeks after the baby’s birth, when most women are going in for their post-natal checkup, and have barely assimilated all the changes in their life as a result of the new bundle of joy, actresses, singers and their ilk are doing photo shoots, demonstrating how swiftly their bodies have “bounced” back to normal.
You have to remember…these are not, despite all their protestations, normal mothers. Before their pregnancies, their bodies were about as finely tuned as it is possible to be. During pregnancy, they continue on their carefully structured fitness routines and diets. Post pregnancy, they are immediately back in the gym with their personal trainer.
They are not living real lives…or at least the average life of a woman post-pregnancy. Most of them have access to a multitude of services, including nannies and housekeepers and cooks. If all I’d had to do was nurse, cuddle and play with my son, I am sure I would have had the time and energy to get straight into a fitness routine post-partum.
…the average new mother should never expect to regain her pre-pregnancy figure in the times that celebrity mothers do. It is estimated that the female body takes approximately twelve months to recover from childbirth, and when you consider that all the changes occurred over a nine month period that recovery is hardly surprising. But many women will tell you that it takes them much longer…if at all. Many women find themselves continuing to gain weight after pregnancy.
The predominant reason for this is simple. Women, especially mothers, put themselves last. The children, their spouse/partner, the home, a job/career…most of us put ourselves somewhere behind all of those. And that is extremely foolish. If we, the mothers, are not fit, are not healthy, are not happy, we are not even remotely capable of doing everything else. You wouldn’t expect a car that has been badly maintained to function at it’s best, would you? It will have more mechanical issues, poorer fuel economy, and may well be more prone to accidents. So how do you think a mother, an organic living organism, is going to function properly if not properly maintained?
I would like to see women not only plan for pregnancy and the resulting baby, but also to plan for themselves after the baby is born. This should be an essential part of the process. I would strongly urge all prospective mothers to include a dietician – one who is experienced in the needs of pregnant and nursing mothers – in their list of medical professionals. A dietician can give you an eating plan for both during pregnancy and afterwards, taking into account the extra nutritional needs of nursing mothers (if you choose to breast-feed). The key here is to eat foods rich in nutrients, instead of those high in calories, but low in nutrients.
I also think planning for a personal trainer post pregnancy is a good idea, unless you are already a dedicated member at your local gym. While trainers can be expensive, you will find those who are quite willing to train small groups, which proves to be far cheaper per person. Find some other new mothers to combine forces with, and you will be onto a winner. Another advantage with a personal trainer is that many train outside gyms, and can even come to your home to train you. This is not to be sneered at, when taking a new baby out of the house is a mammoth undertaking. Again, you want to make sure whomever you choose is used to working with women who have recently given birth, and has appropriate qualifications and experience. But when it comes to trying to get into an exercise routine with a new baby, the value of the accountability you feel when you have a trainer should never be discounted.
Incidentally, the most valuable appliance for a new mother is a freezer, and the second is a slow cooker. The larger models can cook a substantial amount, and you can then freeze the exccess for instant and healthy meals when you have had one of those days.
Also, do not stop at the six week post partum check-up. I would highly recommend three monthly checkups for that first year, simply because you often do not realise that problems are occurring (particularly post-partum depression) until something major forces you to confront it. Better to nip anything in the bud.
Getting your pre-baby body back is not a luxury or vanity (I can remember an older relative telling me to accept my body was gone after my first child…that spurred me on to prove her wrong!) but a necessity. You need to be both fit and healthy to cope with your new workload, and you need to feel happy with yourself, before you can be a good mother or wife/partner. If your well-meaning husband says something like “I love you however you look” or something in that vein, correct his misapprehension with “I am not doing this to make sure you still love me; I am doing this for my well-being”. Make him realise that this is important and essential.
A woman and a mother who loves herself , and how she looks is a truly yummy mummy.