Kim, a teacher in her early 30s, has two children and met with Matt Evans recently to chat about her pre-& post-natal journey experience in Lincolnshire. It is safe to say that she did not see the need to be active during her first pregnancy but this changed with the benefit of hindsight. Kim’s experience with her first pregnancy was not great, as a result, she developed a different approach during her second pregnancy.
In her own words, “I took better care of myself in terms of both antenatal and prenatal care during my second pregnancy. I focused on my nutrition, fitness and mental health before getting pregnant with my second child. During my first pregnancy, I was not active because I did not enjoy physical activity. I thought that when people are pregnant they should avoid exercise and take it easy. I remember, after giving birth, that I decided to go out for a walk. I lost my breath. I could not walk. This gave me great concerns about my health and impacted my mental health too. I needed to do something!
I began to make a change by walking, only short distances to begin with, and then enrolled in our local netball club. That completely changed my life to the extent of me being obsessive with playing netball! Thereafter, I played in our local league and became a captain for a few years. When I first started playing netball, I wouldn’t run, I kind of built it in, it was a slow progression. I focused on my walking and I was fitting in about 10,000 steps a day. I later went to a gym twice a week and began doing some limited weightlifting.
“People will never go into a marathon without training, so why do people go into birth without any preparation?”
In 2020, with a bit more confidence, I followed an intensive personal training course. I lost around 4 stones but it was quite slow. I decided to delay my second pregnancy during COVID (because I wanted to be vaccinated before I got pregnant) so during this period, I found exercise was great for my mental health. When we started trying for our second child, my BMI was not great but my lifestyle was now different. I fell pregnant so attended antenatal classes where Tracey, the leader, really made me think. She said, “people will never go into a marathon without training, so why do people go into birth without any preparation?” I could no longer sustain the 10,000 steps a day so I focused on 6000. I managed that through simple things like; doing the school run with the first child and making sure I got out every day for a walk somewhere. I was unable to play netball, so I swapped it for swimming. I swam twice a week and started taking some of my antennal classmates with me. The activity was good but the social element made it even better: we didn’t want to let each other down so rarely missed sessions.
My first childbirth was a horrible experience, but my second birth was incredible. I was active all of the time right up to delivery! The Midwife suggested that I didn’t lay down on the bed so which encouraged me to stay active throughout the whole process. I was in labour for about 8 hours. During my first pregnancy, because I was not physically prepared, it was hard for me but with my second birth, because I was better prepared physically and mentally, I was calm and my body could keep going.
I had no idea of how to prepare myself for pregnancy, nobody talks to me about it. I am a teacher but we don’t talk about how to get prepared for pregnancy. We talk about healthy eating but we don’t talk about lifestyle for pregnancy. The General Practitioner (GP) never talked about it before but why would they? By the time I saw them, I was already pregnant. Women need to be encouraged to prepare for pregnancy much earlier through a whole range of activities. I actually have had to ask the doctor, at about 6 weeks after delivery, when I can go back to netball and running about because I am desperate to start again.
My entire family is now into physical activity. I take them to the park, to swim and we even go to watch professional netball league matches. There are so many different things that you can do! I think it is important that my children see mum being active and understand it’s the best way to lead your life. Physical activity has become embedded in our family.”
Our top tips for Mum’s-to-be:
- Get your body ready before pregnancy. Use the Activity Finder to find something that you are interested in.
- Whilst pregnant, do some appropriate physical activity. Advice on activities can be found on the Let’s Move Lincolnshire website click here
- Find your tribe! Activities with other pregnant women allow you to encourage each other.
Our top tips for Health Care Professionals:
- Have conversations that focus on a patient’s activity levels. The moving medicine site will help. Click here
- Encourage ladies to get their bodies ready for pregnancy. For more info click here
- Share stories of women that have been active during pregnancy so it becomes normal rather than a thing they avoid doing.
More info about how Active Lincolnshire work with pre and post-natal women can be found in this article: Embedding Physical Activity in the pre and post natal system – Active Lincolnshire