Mums happy to be run off their feet

Desperate Housewives star, Marcia Cross, gained 65 pounds when she was pregnant with her twin daughters, Savannah and Eden, and she was due back on the set within five months — so Cross worked out three to five days a week at LA’s Burn 60 gym.

The workout combined interval training — alternating jogging and walking — with strength and resistance training. The actress was in shape on time. It’s not just celebrity mums who run to lose baby weight.

Cork mum, Sinead Kenneally, discovered that running helped her tone up and lose weight, and provided much-needed ‘me time’.

Last January, a few months after the birth of her second son, Cathal, now nine months, Sinead, a social care worker with the Brothers of Charity, started jogging.

Cathal had been a colicky baby, and Sinead had been confined to the house following the birth, so, when Cathal was a few months old, Sinead (32) began exercising.

It wasn’t about weight-loss — she was down to her pre-baby weight — but about time-out. She started walking, and, after hearing about the Couch to 5k, or C25K, training programme, began to jog in the evenings, when her husband had come home from work.

“The app is a run-walk interval training which gets you ready to run continuously for five kilometres,” says Sinead, who jogged three evenings a week. Within seven weeks, she was able to run 5k with ease, and completed her first race, a 7km run, at the end of February, in 39 minutes: “I found that once I started running I lost a stone in weight — I actually didn’t start running to lose weight, it was more about getting some me time.”

On Jun 3, she did the Cork City half-marathon and has signed up to the Dublin half-marathon, in September.

“I love my kids to bits, but I just needed to get out on my own for half an hour to clear my head. I’m really enjoying it. I’m a lot more positive, since I started. The benefits are great, both physically and psychologically, so I hope to keep it up.”

Running is an excellent way to tone up, lose weight and get fit — and there are lots of running clubs around the country, if you want some company while you do it — simply Google ‘running club’ to find one near you.

However, it’s important to wait until your body is ready, says Dr Rachel Mackey, women’s health specialist at the Women’s Health Clinic in Dun Laoghaire.

Because of the normal physical changes during pregnancy, she says, it’s important not to do anything vigorous for six weeks after birth.

“After the baby is born, the body is very vulnerable. You’re more likely to injure yourself in the six weeks, because you still have a lot of pregnancy hormones in circulation and these leave joints and muscles more vulnerable to injury.”

This is relevant to your pelvic floor, which needs six weeks to recover, she says.

And that’s not all — pregnancy weakens your back and tummy muscles, and you can lose your core stability, says Dr Mairead O’Riordan, senior lecturer in UCC and consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

“By the end of pregnancy, your back and tummy muscles are weakened.”

Many women are anxious to lose weight — weight gain in pregnancy, of around 25-35lbs, is usual for normal-weight women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist — but it’s important to take things slowly.

Start off, after the birth, by working on your pelvic floor and core stability, says O’Riordan, who says she recommends post-natal pilates.

“Start with pelvic-floor exercises, then some walking and then you can start to run, but, while running, you must concentrate on doing your pelvic floor exercises,” she says.

Some women will experience difficulties with their pelvic floor, says Dr Mackey.

“Running is fantastic, but if you feel rotten after running or find that you’re leaking urine, or are experiencing a lot of pressure down there, you should consult the doctor. Some women will bounce back quite quickly and will be raring to go, some will find their pelvic floor does not recover as quickly as expected.

“In conjunction with her doctor, every woman has to consider what sort of exercises would be appropriate,” she says, adding that women should always take the advice given by the midwife, and do both pelvic floor exercises and pilates.

If you are still experiencing difficulties, she says, you may need to consult a women’s health physiotherapist.

“Running is a fantastic form of cardiovascular exercise,” Dr Mackeye says, adding that it also provides excellent stress release.

“In my opinion, it’s the ideal exercise for a new mum, if she can find the time to do it and does not have any problems with the pelvic floor.”

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