If someone ran a marathon and then spent the subsequent few weeks letting their bodies recover from the grueling effort would you say that series of events made them lose fitness?
No. I wouldn’t.
Then why do we say pregnancy and birth reduces a woman’s fitness?
Don’t get me wrong – and I want to be very clear here – one cannot and should not exercise at an intense level while pregnant and each woman should be extremely mindful about how they return to exercise after giving birth. However, the mindset that because I needed to reduce my exercise for 9 months and then rehabilitate my body afterwards means I am somehow weaker than before, could not be any further from the truth.
A marathoner spends week in week out training for this intense experience that is race day. Workouts and meals are all planned to prepare the body to handle the demands that running 42.2kms will place on it. The moment the runner trains for is brief in the scheme of things – only four or so hours compared with the weeks of training – and after the race is run, recovery is vital. It will involve plenty of rest, good food and a much lighter load of movement.
The very same can be said of a woman’s pregnancy journey. Nine months of her body and mind preparing in the lead up to the most concentrated and intense moment of her life.
Nearly 20 hours of labour with my daughter was more than just a means to an end.
It showed me I am stronger than I could have ever known.
It showed me I am braver than anyone could have made me believe.
It showed me I can endure more than I would have thought possible.
The same is true for all women. Swap 20 hours for your number, swap labour with c-section, swap pregnancy with IVF journey.
And after these 9 months, after those many intense hours people may say things like ‘you’ll bounce back’, ‘you’ll lose the baby fat’, ‘you’ll get your fitness back’, ‘you’re body will feel less broken one day’.
Oh mumma your body was never broken. Your fitness never left. You just ran a marathon and you got SO. MUCH. STRONGER.