There’s no doubt that becoming parents means a big change in lifestyle. For those whose lives revolve around fitness or sport, there will need to be some adaptations made. The good news is that there IS an active life when two become three (or more). How can it be done?
Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill has just announced that she will not be competing in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, because she is pregnant. It seems from her announcement that this is something of a surprise, although she says that she is still planning to defend her title in the Rio Olympics which will be held in 2016. At the age of 27 there is no reason why she should not be able to do this – but like all new parents, she is going to have to make some changes.
Until relatively recently, pregnancy was kept very much under wraps. Pregnant women were not supposed to be seen in public, and were ‘confined’ for as much as a month before the birth. It is only in the last forty years or so that attitudes have changed.
Now pregnancy bumps are celebrated and put on show, and there is a strong suggestion that women should be ‘back to normal’ the moment the baby arrives. Indeed, there was some media surprise when the Duchess of Cambridge was shown with her newborn son and still had a ‘baby belly’ – as if they were expecting her to ‘deflate’ instantly. For a new mother grabbing sleep when she can, and still recovering from the birth, this kind of unrealistic image can be very depressing.
The imminent arrival of even the most wanted baby can also produce some very contradictory feelings. There’s no doubt that there are going to be big changes, and adding the fear of the unknown can produce some sleepless nights earlier than might be expected. This applies especially to those who are very active, and whose choice of activity is not one that can be shared with a baby or small child. Some have likened it to grieving for a lost lifestyle – Ennis-Hill has said that all her plans for 2014 have been completely turned upside down, and this is a natural reaction.
There is no doubt that it takes time to recover from pregnancy and birth – but if all goes well there is no reason to expect long-term effects on fitness. There are many examples of athletes who have returned to the top level after having their babies. Eating healthily and keeping active during pregnancy is also beneficial, although medical advice should always be heeded. Most people know that ‘eating for two’ is not necessary, but pregnancy must always be taken into account. A woman’s body will behave differently while there is a passenger!
Some ideas for those wanting to keep active before and after their happy event:
There’s no doubt that the arrival of a baby marks a complete change for everyone – but there will still be a place for fitness. Active parents set a wonderful example for their children, so it is well worth making it happen.
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