When you first become pregnant you have endless questions about your changing body and the dos and don’ts that come with it, including how you manage your fitness.
Not only is your fitness important for your body and health but also for your mind. Rosie, founder of Mamawell - wants to help new and expecting mothers gain the knowledge and confidence to exercise through pregnancy and beyond. With 2 daughters, Rosie’s London based bootcamps and classes are a place where mums can get together and bring their babies along. Mamawell also has a subscription service for at home workouts. Today she talks about the importance of staying active, listening to your body and tips for finding time in your day for exercise.
Tell us a little bit about you…
My name is Rosie. I live in SW London with my husband and two young daughters. I trained as a dancer and performed, choreographed shows and spent many years teaching all types of dance to both children and adults. A move to New York with my husband's work prompted retraining in fitness - I was already passionate about it and thought it would be a great additional string to my bow. I fell pregnant with my first child and absolutely loved following the process in the body through pregnancy, birth and beyond so decided to make that my focus. As well as staying active I love cooking, yoga, walks and parks with the family and travel everywhere and anywhere (I’m so looking forward to being able to do that again soon!)
What inspired you to start Mamawell?
Mamawell started as bootcamps in my local park and private fitness sessions. I wanted to teach a class where mums could get together and bring their babies. Somewhere where there’d be no judgement, just a lot of fun meeting new people and great advice on what happens in the body during pregnancy and beyond and how to be empowered to be strong and fit - for physical and mental health. I wanted to create a community and to also show that it’s fine to want to get back to running, impact - or whatever is good for you after having your little one.
Over the last 4 years the @mamawelluk instagram community has really grown - and we have so many great conversations as well as live workouts, Q&As and expert guests. I also have an online programme as I want everyone to be able to access great workouts and advice on their own time.
How do you juggle your own fitness and being a mum?
Oh, it’s very hard! I sometimes schedule an instagram live workout just so I know I’m going to get it done, haha! Seriously, I just try and think ahead of when I might be able to fit some movement in and book my husband if it’s not nap time. My workouts are short and snappy, 20 mins is enough. I used to hang out in the gym for ages, have a smoothie afterwards etc. Now it’s a quick run and back to family life. But I love that short escape time.
I always tell my clients to find some movement that they love as that will keep them motivated and remove a barrier to entry. And not to beat yourself up for the things you don’t get done, you have to really notice your wins and congratulate yourself when you have some energy to do a workout. Some days running after the kids is enough, or a quick walk.
Why do you think it’s important for mums to stay fit pre and post pregnancy?
It’s so beneficial for mental health to stay active if possible. The NHS advises 150 minutes a week and this doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once for example, but each little bit you do per day adds up. The physical benefits are many and varied. Throughout pregnancy it’s helpful to keep muscles strong to support the joints as the body grows and cardiovascular fitness is so helpful for overall heart health plus staying fit for the birth. Staying active can improve mood, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and constipation, reduce the risk of lower back pain and other pregnancy related aches. It can help prepare the body and mind for birth and possibly speed up both the labour and the recovery time.
Post birth, I find that moving when you’re ready can help you start to feel a bit more like yourself again. It’s great once again for mental health - and done in the right way can firstly help heal you after birth, and provide a base to build strength and fitness - enabling any woman to reach any goals they want to set.
What’s your top fitness tip for a pregnant mum-to-be?
A lot of trainers say this but I can’t stress it enough. Move in a way that feels good for YOU each day. In pregnancy there are so many changes week by week. At one point a move may feel amazing and the next day, not great at all. Never push through, but instead listen to your body and adapt to something that better serves you. Pregnancy isn’t a time for competing with yourself, but being kind and treating yourself with respect, and this definitely includes movement. Having said that, there are so many days where it will feel great, empowering and amazing to get a sweat on, lift a weight or do a yoga flow - in that case, go for it and enjoy!
Do you have a favourite fitness move you would recommend for a pregnant mum-to-be?
I love stretches - things that open my back, shoulders and hips. Try moves like ‘thread the needle’ ‘Childs pose’ with the knees apart, and deep squats.
How long should you wait before you start working out postpartum?
You shouldn’t do anything beyond pelvic floor exercises, gentle internal activation and walking before 6 weeks postpartum, for any type of birth. And even after that you may want to take your time.
What main factors do you need to consider when you start working out again?
You’ll firstly want to feel like your healing is going well - especially if you had a Caesarean or stitches. It’s important to start with the basics, no running or impact exercises until you’ve really worked on your pelvic floor and have gained strength there. Build up gradually. You’ll want to make sure you have a really good sports bra - and fatigue is a big factor as well. Some days you won’t be in the mood at all to workout, I’d suggest trying to get out for a pram walk every day if you can.
Notice how your joints are feeling, are you aching, in pain? Maybe you might need to see a women’s health physio to assess your pelvic floor or abdominals. Remember, leaking urine is not something you need to put up with - take it as a (very common) sign that you should do your exercises or seek guidance. Regarding the abdominals, most women’s abdominals separate by full-term pregnancy. After birth they will start to come back together either on their own or with some help. Seek guidance if you think you need, but don’t be afraid of this separation, there is still a lot you can do even with a gap.
How important is walking for your fitness?
I think walking is an absolute life saver. Getting outdoors, moving, seeing new places, it’s free - so good for everyone! You can make it a little meditation by yourself, or a great catch up with friends. I was walking so much near the end of my pregnancy, it really kept me going mentally and physically. Then as soon as I felt well enough post birth, I was off round the park. Try and get out every day if you can.
Here is Rosie is out walking with our new eco Hero backpack.
For mums that don’t want to go to the gym or a class, what’s your top tip for working out at home?
I’d find a programme that you enjoy and trust - so you don’t need to be motivated to think of what to do. Get a couple of bits of equipment - see what you might need for trying a few workouts first. I think for new mums, having home workouts are brilliant as you can plan for when the baby is asleep and maximise your time (or have them watching you!) It’s why I created my programme!
Any advice for mums wanting to get into fitness for the first time?
I think I’d say, it’s really never too late to start something that you feel passionate about trying. Don’t judge yourself too much at the start. I think it’s key to just get going so you can start to feel some benefits and that spiral of positivity will really kick in. Lots of people give up at the start, but make yourself a bit of a plan for a month at least to see how you start feeling as you move. If you need motivation I’d recommend doing something with a friend so you have each other to spur yourself on and just try to have the confidence to know that you’re doing something really beneficial for you, which your body and mind will thank you for - at the moment and in the future.