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Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise

'Sophie Elsworthy'

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in September 2018 I was determined that I would maintain much of my active, healthy lifestyle. My attitude throughout my pregnancy was that my body was designed to carry a baby and that she would be tucked up and safe from harm for the 9 months that I carried her. My first port of call was to consult Gemma given her speciality in pre and post natal fitness. She gave me some fantastic tips and pregnancy-safe exercises and continues to support me in staying fit and healthy post-pregnancy.

I know many in my position would gleefully rejoice at the fact that they could now eat for two or take advantage of their newly pregnant status to put their feet up and veg out for nine months. But, while I didn't deny myself the odd pizza or After Eight (my particular craving), I was sure I didn't want this to be my story. This was not not only because I didn't want to give myself a tonne of work to do to lose my postpartum baby weight but also I wanted to set a precedent for my daughter that obstacles and challenges in life only stop you from living it if you choose to let them.

Throughout my pregnancy, with Gemma's support and guidance, I made sure I walked every day, rain or shine. I found it was a chance not only to get away from my laptop but it was great to get some fresh air, to stretch out my rapidly changing body and to listen to my hypnobirthing tracks (highly recommend the Positive Birth Company). The hypnobirthing course taught me to relax, to slow my breathing and to think positive thoughts and it uplifted me enormously and prepared me for labour and all that was to follow. The walking kept me moving, soothed the pain in my joints and kept me fit.

I also swam a couple of times a week, a great way to take the weight off your feet and feel light as a feather when on land you'd ordinarily feel like a baby elephant. Cool to think that you're technically a human submarine too as you do your laps.

The final activity I took part in may divide opinion, certainly if the internet chat rooms are anything to go by. But at six months pregnant I took a well researched and highly considered decision to go skiing in the French alps. I toyed with this decision for a long time. We had promised my then 8-year-old stepdaughter that we would go skiing in February 2020 and I didn't want my pregnancy and the impending arrival of her first sibling and everything that goes with it to hamper these plans. I'm a fairly competent skier and took it easy, often only doing half a day (sunbathing each afternoon wasn't a big ask), sticking to the simpler, less crowded slopes and in doing so felt bloody fantastic! What a feeling, doing something that you love, feeling free and breathing in the alpine air. Pregnancy does not have to stop you doing what you love as long as you know your limits, don't take any unnecessary risks and stay within your comfort zone.

I loved pregnancy and being pregnant and felt empowered; a stronger, better, more positive and badass version of my normal self (I was still doing full press ups until the day before I went into labour).

Obviously some sort of disclaimer is necessary here. It's so important to listen to your body. It will soon tell you if you've done too much, you'll start to ache and or just feel exhausted. Don't ignore the signs, put your feet up and give yourself some time to recoup and consult a doctor to check it's safe for you to exercise and if you have any concerns.


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