Guest Blog By Jen Dugard
Many mums I meet are battling things we cannot see. It’s not until you delve beneath the surface a little do you find that the appearance they are keeping up is not the complete and whole reality of life with children. From pregnant mums who have stopped exercising all together because they don’t know what is right or wrong for them or their bub to mums of older kids who are battling pelvic floor dysfunction and other aches and pains. Here are six things the pregnant mum you know may be hiding from you and everyone around her.
1. She has stopped exercising (aside from walking) now that she is pregnant because she is scared of doing something that might harm her baby and she doesn’t really know what to do anyway. Being pregnant is one of the biggest stresses the female body it will ever go through – a pregnant woman will actually develop more muscle throughout her torso during her pregnancy to assist in carrying her growing baby. She will lose this muscle again afterward. Despite this many women don’t do the level of exercise they are capable of at this time, they don’t build strength or resilience. They are facing the biggest physically challenging event (labour) that most of them will have ever done before and they are about to embark upon the most physically demanding job they have ever done (motherhood), in, potentially the most physically de-conditioned state they have ever been in. No surprises that many people think aches and pains go hand in hand with motherhood – they don’t have to!
2. The pelvic floor exercises she has self-diagnosed are doing her more harm than good. Research suggests that more than half of all women that are doing pelvic floor exercises who have read instructions from a leaflet or have been verbally cued are doing them incorrectly. If you understand that a correct pelvic floor exercise is a lift, an incorrect one is a bearing down. If she has decided she should be doing 50 pelvic floor exercises a day and is doing them incorrectly she could put herself at risk of a prolapse that is avoidable.
3. In her postnatal check up when she is told her that two fingers separation is ‘normal’ she then goes about damaging herself further. In the postnatal period many conditions may be considered ‘normal’. And they absolutely are. However, she doesn’t know, what she doesn’t know and ‘normal’ to her means she can go back to doing what she was doing before her pregnancy. She doesn’t realize that certain exercises that create intra- abdominal pressure on her pelvic floor and abdominals can be making these things worse not better. She needs to learn how to re-build from the inside out BEFORE she goes back to her regular exercise routine.
4. She will trust her body in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand what she has been through and where she is at. She is now so driven to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight or back into her skinny jeans that she will work with anyone that says they can get her there. It’s not that she doesn’t care, she just doesn’t know. And the Personal Trainer that has taken her on makes a living from servicing the masses and tries to be something to everyone. She will push through exercises that don’t feel right just because she is being told to do so. It’s no-ones ‘fault’ they just don’t know what they don’t know.
5. She will still be running and wetting herself when her child is five and most likely won’t have experienced and orgasm for the past five years either. Because surely by then it is too late. Surely it is just something that happened when she had a baby and she reasoned that it was okay to sacrifice a little part of herself for the beautiful human being she brought into the world. These are not topics we generally toss around the kitchen table or at a dinner party but they are facts of life that many women are living and suffering with in silence. Yes, she became a mother and yes, she now has beautiful children but this is not something any woman should have to live with.
6. All of these things are getting her down and she’s now at greater risk of Postnatal Depression. She is shocked at how her body has changed and now she is distressed at how it won’t cooperate. She knew it would be different but this is almost too much. With a lack of sleep, poor nutrition and having limited resources for help the expected ‘baby blues’ don’t seem to be coming to an end. She needs help with her body and help with her mind but she doesn’t know who to turn to so she struggles on. If you are reading this blog post and would like to find out more either for yourself or a friend I would love to help.
Jen Dugard is a highly motivated mother of two, fitness specialist and author who thrives on showing all mums that they can put themselves first and achieve both the body and lifestyle of their dreams. Jen’s message on exercise as a mum is simple: “you must take the time to re-build from the inside out to become stronger, fitter and more confident that you have ever been”. For more information visit: www.jendugard.com.au