Exercise and babies

Doing exercise during pregnancy can be a tough slog. Not only for fear of pushing your body too much whilst you’re busy growing a baby but also because of all those terrible side effects of pregnancy – tiredness, nausea, sickness to name a few…

Post-baby exercise can be a hard graft too. With a baby in tow and all the sleep deprivation that comes along with it, getting back into the swing of things isn’t always as straight-forward as it may have previously been.

Exercise pregnancy

Katie finishing her second triathlon shortly before discovering she was 4 weeks pregnant!

Women of all different levels of fitness approach it in many different ways. There’s not a one-size-fit-all approach to exercise that new or expectant mums should adopt but I wanted to get an understanding of how it worked for one person who has always enjoyed keeping fit.

I caught up with new mum and keen runner, Katie, on her relationship with exercise both during pregnancy and after giving birth to her beautiful daughter, Evie.

[Remember: If you’re ever unsure about whether or not you should do exercise during pregnancy or after having your baby, it’s always best to consult your doctor or midwife.]

So, just to get an understanding of how fit you are – where would you have placed yourself  on the fitness scale before you were pregnant?

In the 4 months prior to falling pregnant I had completed my second marathon in Edinburgh, 2 sprint triathlons and a few smaller races so I was in pretty good shape!

In fact, the second triathlon was in early September and I found out a few days later that I was 4 weeks pregnant. There was a big group of us participating (including my husband) and I beat most of them! Something I wind the guys up about!

Wow! That’s pretty good going! So after finding out you were expecting, did you do any other exercise during your pregnancy?

Yes, the day we found out I was pregnant I went for a celebratory run that evening!

I was really determined to keep up with exercise – especially running – throughout pregnancy but understood that I’d need to slow the pace down.

I managed to keep going out for runs a couple of times a week, typically 3-6 miles at a time but I felt so tired in the first trimester that in the end I just decided to give it a rest and stick to long walks everyday with our dog, Rumo, instead.

Was it hard to motivate yourself to do exercise when you were pregnant? What was the biggest challenge?

The tiredness was the worst feeling. I just felt exhausted all the time but envied all the runners passing our house. Weirdly, running actually helped the morning sickness – maybe it was the fresh air!

How long after having the baby did you get back into exercise?

Exercise after birth

Katie with baby Evie and dog Rumo, in Sheffield.

My first run was 6 weeks after giving birth. I only did 2 miles just to see how I got on. I really really enjoyed it too! I then left it until 8 weeks and from then I built up the distance gradually and ran twice a week.

I also joined a running club in Sheffield called Stride Out which really helped with motivation. I’d join the other runners once a week at their Monday night session.

What was your biggest goal for exercise post-baby?

I wasn’t really motivated to lose weight as I was breastfeeding but I had signed up to the Bupa Great Yorkshire 10km in September so that was my focus. My main aim was to get round in under an hour, which I achieved. It wasn’t a PB but I was pleased to get under an hour 4 months after having a baby.

What plans did you make to help you reach that goal?

Joining the Stride Out running club really helped. They are a great bunch of ladies with varying degrees of fitness so I felt really comfortable running as part of the group.

Ideally I wanted to be running 3 times a week but with a new baby that isn’t necessarily possible especially when you’re sleep deprived!

I’ve always used my Garmin to track my runs which is motivation in itself as I could see my pace gradually increasing over the weeks.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time exercising whilst you have a young baby?

It is difficult to find the time, especially because I am breastfeeding Evie so I need to be on call 24/7. Now that she is 6 months and weaning it is much easier. My husband is very supportive and takes over when I want to go out for a run in the evening or the weekend.

I’ve not yet run with Evie but now she’s a bit older it’s definitely something I want to try, maybe with our dog Rumo too.

What’s the hardest thing about trying to exercise when you have a young baby?

Exercise and pregnancy

Katie and her husband who is also a fitness fanatic.

For me it was overcoming tiredness. Evie has never been a great sleeper so I always felt tired, though the need to go out and do something for myself motivated me to get my trainers on.

What do you love most about doing exercise?

The freedom of it. We live in Yorkshire and are surrounded by some beautiful countryside which, no matter what the season, is amazing to run in.

I love that you can run anywhere too. All you need is your trainers and kit so when we do go away, my running stuff is always packed first.

Who is your biggest inspiration in terms of exercise/sports?

Chrissie Wellington the 4-time World Ironman Champion. She is not only the best in the UK but the best in the world and has really pushed the boundaries in terms of women in sport. She is a real inspiration but just a normal person like the rest of us.

What’s the next big thing as far as exercise is concerned?

Next up is the Percy Pud 10km in Sheffield and my aim is to go under 55 mins. I’d really like to get in another marathon next year (2014) and break 4 hours. I’d like to get another triathlon under my belt too which is something I’ve really enjoyed and try a Tough Mudder – something my husband did recently and has raved about since!

It sounds like you won’t be sitting still for long next year! Do you think any of this sportiness will rub off on Evie?

I hope so as we love being outdoors – walking, running and cycling. Plus, we enjoy open water swimming in the summer so I hope she would like to join in although we would never pressure her into sport if she wasn’t interested.

One comment

  1. So inspiring! Way to be a great mom 🙂

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