What I hate in the fitness and weight loss world this week…

It’s the photos doing the rounds of super ‘fit’ pregnant ladies who are at various stages of pregnancy, usually close to the end with barely a bump showing between their still toned abs. (I put fit in speech marks because we all know that looking fit, is not always indicative of being fit or healthy for that matter.)

I worry so much that this is the next big thing, for pregnant women to feel pressured to gain as little weight as possible during pregnancy and to lose as little of their pre-baby figure as possible while they are still pregnant.  I worry that women are going to feel that the only way to keep the bump small and the weight gain low is to near starve themselves and exercise themselves to an  unhealthy level and actually do some harm to the growing baby or themselves.

I feel sorry that those who try and fail to keep their bump under control feel like a fat failure and they get depressed about the baby and pregnancy when they should be enjoying that special time.

Babies grow inside of us, they need space, they make a bump and sometimes that can be a big bump or a small bump, we can’t control the size or shape of our bump, we have to leave it to nature. If we starve or over exercise, guess what happens? Our body let’s us know it. The body does this neat little thing when you’re pregnant, it keeps you alive and then puts the baby’s nutritional needs above yours, the good stuff will go to the baby so if you stop eating enough, your body will put your baby first and if there is nothing to give the baby bad things may happen. If you don’t eat enough to nourish yourself and sustain the life that’s growing inside of you, you will fast become unwell and you will not be able to sustain it. Your body will not let  you work out to extremes with no food to fuel your body or to grow your baby. Your body hopes that you will care enough about your baby to put the fuel in that you need to grow and develop him or her, but if you don’t do that it takes over, does the best with what you’ve given it and gives you a telling off in the process.

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Keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy is good, going to extremes to keep your bump small is not

If we have good posture and strong muscle tone in our core then our bump may look smaller OR bigger as we hold ourselves differently to those with poorer posture. Good posture and a strong core will help reduce or lessen the severity of back pain and hip pain but there are some conditions which cause pain which nothing is going to prevent, no posture, no exercise, no diet nothing.

Also when we are pregnant we lay down FAT, this fat is vital in milk production and is typically laid down around the hips, waist and shoulder/chest area and our boobs get bigger as milk ducts go through changes. We can’t stop this happening, some people get bigger than others, some put lots of fat down on their thighs, some on their bum and lower back. Breast feeding helps to use up this fat and so some people appear to regain their figure more quickly if they breast feed but I know people who bottle fed and were back in size 10 jeans 10 days after birth.

Nearly every pregnant woman i have ever known has had some form of swelling during pregnancy to some degree or another at some point or another, in the legs, feet, hands. Faces get rounder and plumper and there really is nothing you can do to stop it other than I guess, starve yourself, but then you’re starving your baby, which is not good. Your baby is supposed to be born with a bit of fat on it, it’s nature, we don’t want to be birthing skinny babies they have a whole lifetime to feel crap about their bodies, let them be chubby once in their life and not care.

So I just hope this doesn’t become a new craze, these women don’t have small bumps because they are super women they have small bumps because of the way nature deals with their body during pregnancy or because they are starving themselves, or because they are photoshopping, or because they are lying. I saw one picture where it said that the woman was due any day next to a photo of her naked with a neat tiny bump nestled between abs but in smaller print in the rest of the story it said that the photo above was taken at 6 months and further down the article was a picture of her now and that bump was a whopper, not surprisingly covered by a huge tee shirt and leggings and not on display at all. Pregnant women looking at the article and not bothering to read it all or not scrolling down would believe that the naked photo was taken at 9 months. Some women are huge at 6 months, some don’t even start to show until then. We’re all different.

What isn’t different is that babies need to be well nourished so a pregnant woman needs to be well nourished, well hydrated and to take exercise during pregnancy to keep her healthy, to keep her energised, to keep her mentally well, to resist avoidable painful postural conditions and to adjust better to ligament softening and other physical changes to her body. The extent and nature of that exercise is a personal choice, some women might still feel like running 10 miles a morning before work up to the day they give birth, some might prefer to drop cross fit and go for something non weight bearing like swimming, some might switch running for a fast walk, some might stop cycling later on and take up yoga, it’s up to you just don’t go bat shit crazy trying to stop your bump from growing because you will not do it.

Baby bumps are wonderful and the size of the bump used to be seen as a thing of pride, the bigger the better, just like somehow if you have a big baby you have achieved a feat worthy of a higher position in the realms of motherhood hall of fame than if you have a small baby. Ridiculous of course but one of those things.

Those who naturally see little change in their body during pregnancy… well good on them but I pity them in a way, I loved watching my body change and my belly grow (my bum as well with my daughter but not with my son), I loved (like most women do) having nice big firm boobs and a great cleavage for a while, I loved the opportunity to rest my hands on my belly and feel my little ones moving around all cocooned in there, I loved getting given seats and the way people would spark up conversation in public when they normally sat on the tube looking into space all because of my massive baby lumps. It was a fabulous time and I loved what was happening to my body, it fascinated me and reminded me how much was going on to make me ready to have a healthy baby.

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A healthy balance with diet and exercise is good all of the time especially when pregnant

However, I did lose weight during both of my pregnancies. I gained weight while I was pregnant but a week after the births I was 28lbs lighter with the first one and 21lbs lighter with the second than when I’d fallen pregnant but that was simply down to me finding it so much easier to make healthy choices when pregnant and my diet being filled with only things which would do my babies good. Breastfeeding the two hungriest babies in the world probably helped too.

I just hope people don’t forget that’s their baby growing in there and no matter what it does to their body it’s beautiful, the body that made another person is just as perfect as the body that didn’t. In time, nature helps to get you back to normal if you eat sensibly and move. Eating sensibly and moving during pregnancy is best for you and your baby and stops you piling on unnecessary unhealthy weight and after the baby is born eating sensibly and moving helps your body to get back to normal gradually and helps you cope with the stresses of motherhood. Extremes are never good, no matter if you’re pregnant or not but especially when you are pregnant. Just as living off mars bars is no good for you and your baby, living off lettuce isn’t either. Balance and capacity, it’s all about balance and capacity, always. If you can still lift weights and plank when you are 9 months pregnant and you feel comfortable do it but don’t force yourself to do something you’re not used to hoping that it will keep your bump small.. it won’t. Keep your mind on your health and your baby’s health not the size of your belly.

Your baby bump is not FAT it is a LIFE.

Following on from this is another thing, the pressure to get back into shape within minutes after having a baby… that pisses me off too, I’ll talk about that some other time.

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