Firstly I want to preface this blog with a simple fact – I have great support. I don’t want to even begin to preach that being a new mum and getting fit again is easy. And it would be much harder without the support I have around me of my husband Graham and my Mum who allow me to go for a run worry free because I know my daughter is in the best hands, (pardon the pun Graham!!) Also I was extremely lucky during my pregnancy to remain fit and healthy and have a smooth labor (thanks to a great obstetrician and his fantastic team at Frances Perry, thanks Ross!)
As I said, my pregnancy was relatively smooth. I raced a 4x400m relay at 6 weeks pregnant and then just pulled back on the sessions by gradually dropping the percentage that I trained at until I made a conscientious decision (with my coach and brother Justin) to stop running altogether at 7 months pregnant. By the last few months I was literally just shuffling anyway. The last 2 months were spent walking with a heart rate monitor on and just making sure that I remained fit and healthy but always being mindful of the most important result being a healthy baby. I do believe that remaining fit and healthy throughout my pregnancy kept me sane, allowed me to have a great recovery post birth and delivered me the best gift ever, a healthy baby girl.
August 9th 2014 Izabella Indie Manou arrived into our world and these last 6 months have been the best 6 ever. I read nothing leading into the pregnancy, through the pregnancy or after it! I was told, (after freaking out at the literature) that ‘up the duff’ was the best book to read, however I couldn’t even get through that one as it was all too intense for me! So I made the decision to treat it like running, my doc Ross was my new coach and whatever he said goes. I took an extra cautious approach to exercise and I was very fortunate to have no cravings (albeit disappointed as no yuck stories of waking up at midnight to eat icecream with vegemite!). Again everyone is so individual in pregnancies and because I had no cravings and felt great in the last 6 months it allowed me to not stack on too much extra weight. All up though I did put on 14 kg with Izabella born at a healthy 8 pound 5. In the first 6 weeks after Izabella was born all I did was enjoy my time with her, adjust to my new life and walk. We walked so much. I have two Hungarian Vizsla dogs, Indie and Willow (yes we named Izabella after our oldest dog – Izabella Indie), and they don’t understand, ‘no walk new baby’, so exercise was a necessity anyway. Plus Izabella loved being out and about with the dogs.
At 6 weeks, I received the all clear from the doc to start some gentle running and get back into it. I had been doing my pelvic floor exercises religiously, yet no one can prepare you for that first run. I managed 1 minute jog (a shuffle at Cliff Young pace) and 1 minute walk for ten minutes. Yep ten minutes…I am not kidding. My first step into the jog I thought my insides were going to fall out and that I would never be able to run fast again! I was horrified.
Thankfully it did get better. The way forward was slowly, slowly. I am guessing everyone’s recovery is different so I can’t sit here and say do what I did and you will get fit and in shape again. I just listened to my body and took it very gently in the first few months and gradually increased the amount and tempo depending on what my body could cope with. Fast forward 6 months and I am pretty happy with my progress. I have found the time I spend going for a run allows me to have valuable ‘me’ time still and makes me (I believe) a better, happier and more relaxed Mum to Izabella. I prefaced this with I’m lucky to have support as I know lots don’t and would be unable to find an hour a day to do baby free exercise sessions. I have had such days where I couldn’t and those days I don’t stress I just take Izabella along and do stuff with her.
I have taken her to the gym, jogged up the hill reps (slowly) or on the track with Izabella in her pram and just ticked the legs over and got my heart rate up. On those days I wait till Izabella is asleep and also do circuits at home. Sometimes it is the last thing I have felt like doing in the hour respite her sleep gives me, however I always feel better after doing it. Now Izabella is 6 months old I have her in the baby jogger summit X3 pram with a neck support. I never go fast when I run with her as she’s still really young and I can always see her to make sure she is happily enjoying her time along the walk/jog. Even pushing the pram up hill reps, just walking is enough to get my heart rate up and work on fitness and body toning. Of all my ‘get body/fitness back’ sessions that I do now, the ones with Izabella are by far my favorites. What I have learnt since exercising again post birth is that unlike before having Izabella, I have to be more relaxed in terms of what can and can’t happen. My life now revolves around Izabella’s needs and sometimes plans change. Surprisingly I have been relaxed and just rolled with the changes and getting back in shape has just progressed nicely and stress free because of this. This weekend is the Victorian State Championships. I have entered the 400m. I may be setting myself an unrealistic goal of competing, however I have missed racing and I think even at the age of 36 and a new mum I can still run fast enough to compete well. Fingers crossed this week goes well on the training track and I can take my spot on the start line and enjoy a few more races before hanging my spikes up for good. I am so fortunate that without reading one book or knowing anything on how to be a mum, I have been given one of those children who sleep through the night and is crazy laid back like her father! As the young kids say…hashtag BLESSED!!!!