Published on Apr 12, 2013
There was a big reaction from the public when fitness trainers Sharny and Julius Kieser spoke about their controversial views on obesity.
She says that anyone can have a pain-free, 15 minute labour. And that’s bloody unhelpful.
Seriously, what have we been thinking?
Silly, lazy women.
In fact, if only I had listened to certain “experts”, I may never have known just how indescribably excruciating it is to push a tiny human out of your far, far tinier vagina. I would have tensed something, flexed something, stretched out an elegant, toned leg and Pop- we’re done here.
How? If I’d have done more exercise when I was pregnant.
This past week it seems exercise is being floated as a cure-all when it comes to those difficult parts of pregnancy and childbirth that women have lived and died by for centuries.
Michelle Bridges says her fitness has handed her a pregnancy at 44 without the need for all the pesky fertility treatment that she might have otherwise have had to explore.
It’s wonderful for Michelle, of course, but an irritating comment for millions who have struggled with infertility. Those women might well hear in that reasoning an insinuation that they weren’t sacrificing hard enough to get pregnant, that they’ve been sitting on their over-sized bums scarfing party pies when they could have solved all their problems with a few more sit-ups. That is rarely the case.
And now there’s another thing exercise can do for us – take away the pain of childbirth. Last July, ‘fitmum’ Sharny Kieser went into labour and gave birth to her fifth child in a birthing pool. The whole process took 15 minutes.
I have spoken to Sharny about her in-your-face views on motherhood and fitness in the past. Hers is a take-no-prisoners transformation story. She was, in her opinion, overweight and unhappy and now, through eye-watering self-discipline and a business model that revolves around her and her husband Julius’s impressive physiques, she is now pregnant with her SIXTH child, and peddling a book about how to have a FIT PREGNANCY, not a FAT PREGNANCY. In Sharny’s eyes, there is no reason why we can’t all do what she has done.
Sharny is a shining example of healthy living. She has made fitness her business, but that comes with a side of judgement. And when that judgement is around birth and babies, it’s dangerous, dangerous territory.
Because when it comes to how women give birth, we already see judgement in all corners.
Didn’t take any drugs? You’re smug.
Opted for the epidural? You’re selfish, and drugging your baby.
Had a C-section? Well, you didn’t REALLY give birth, did you?
Did it in a birthing pool with the midwife? You risk-taking hippie, you.
But one thing that is generally not in dispute when it comes to the discussion of childbirth is this: It hurts. It hurts like hell.
And yes, there is a way to have a (relatively) pain-free birth: The administration of DRUGS, early and often. But drugs aside, it’s unlikely that pain is what’s going to be missing from your experience of giving birth.
Obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Joseph Sgroi, says that it’s undeniable that being fit and healthy and having a BMI that’s well within a healthy range is going to impact positively on labour.
“It’s a bit like running a marathon, you want to be as fit as you possibly can because you need to have good stamina to get through the labour itself, and the pushing. If you’re fatigued it’s a lot harder to achieve. In my experience, women who are extremely fit do very well in labour.”
BUT, he says, that is not necessarily related to pain, and how much your labour will hurt.
“Certain women will experience pain at different thresholds… There are some mechanics at play, for some women no matter how fit and healthy you are, a natural birth might not be possible. Different women have different pain thresholds.
“I’m wary of health gurus overstating something that might let a woman feel let down afterwards, and that will be detrimental to her psychological state.”
In other words, being fit and healthy is very important for pregnant women, but it’s a false promise to suggest it will somehow magically score you a quick, painless labour.
Women who have not yet given birth (and many who have) are afraid of that. As well they should be. There’s pain, and bleeding, and danger. And before modern obstetric medicine, many, many women and babies died doing it.
Which makes pregnant women a vulnerable market for people selling The New Birth Solution. They will grasp on to the idea that there is a way of delivering a child that is safe, and doesn’t hurt like hell.
They will throw money at that promise, hand over fist.
Hypnobirthing, or Calm Birthing, is another technique that also promises a “pain-free” labour. And its teachings, which many women have found very helpful, revolve in large part about reframing how you see the pain of labour in your mind.
Rather than something terrifying to fight, Calm Birth ideology goes, see the pain as the inevitable, purposeful steps to getting your ultimate prize – your baby.
Hats off to you if you can keep that positive thinking going for one, two, 24, 36 hours.
The average calm-birth class program in Sydney costs around $500.
Again, promising frightened women a less painful birth is big business.
When I gave birth to my first child, I went to the average pre-natal classes with all the other scared people. Overwhelmingly, the question that most asked most often and earliest was “But how much does it hurt, really?”
The midwife tried to avoid the word PAIN, replacing it with its bullshit cousin DISCOMFORT, but, I’m telling you, there was nothing DISCOMFORTABLE about the pain I found myself in, several weeks later, in the middle of an early, high-speed delivery.
All the pre-natal yoga and perineal massage in the world can’t take away from the fact that labour hurts an incredible amount. It hurts so much that you temporarily, you lose your mind. And it hurts so much that when it’s over, you have no idea how you just lived through that.
But really, if the pain is the only thing that sucks about your birthing experience, then you’re doing okay. You’re lucky. If you get a baby in your arms and a couple of stitches and some war stories to tell at mothers’ group, you’re doing just fine.
Because for so many women, and for so many babies, things get a lot more complicated than that, with much higher stakes.
Not getting the labour you planned for is not the worst thing that can happen.
Telling pregnant women that they can achieve a pain-free birth plays to their fear of pain and their fear of failure.
And if a woman is safe, with a healthy child in her arms, failure is something they should never be feeling.
However long their labour lasted. And however much it hurt. Mums need to remember this: You have not failed. You are brave. And no one is having a pain-free birth. Ever.
Do you think people like Sharny are exploiting a woman’s need to “control” the birth experience.
* Dr Sgroi is a representative of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Want more? Try these stories…
I took my kids to Fit Mum's place for dinner and this is what happened
Feeding my children nutritious food is important to me, but I’m also human and when my day goes pear-shaped I’ve often resorted to meals of drive-thru variety. My week generally starts great and is full of home-baked and healthy treats, but somewhere about Wednesday the wheels start to fall off and we fall into some unhealthy habits.
I recently saw Sharny Kieser, aka Fit Mum, at a presentation on healthy lunchbox ideas at my daughter’s kindy. The food she presented on the night tasted great and I felt inspired, but peanut butter made from sunflower seeds? Fried rice made from cauliflower? I wasn’t quite sure my kids would feel the same, so like any nosy journalist would, I invited us all over to her house for dinner to see if her ‘Healthy Junk’ would get a thumbs up or thumbs down from the harshest of culinary critics, my son Jamie, 5 and daughter Jessica, 3.
I’ll admit my children aren’t ‘bad eaters’, but we have our challenges. Jamie is the ultimate carnivore and will eat a plate of baby octopus, but gag if presented with a banana. My dainty salad eating daughter is easily distracted at mealtimes and will be ravenous at bedtime because she’s ‘forgotten’ to eat all day.
I briefed my children by simply saying we were going to a friend’s house for dinner. The moment of truth arrived and we’re greeted by Sharny and her husband Julius’ three youngest children, all aged under four. Enthusiasm is an understatement. Feed a child all the organic, grain-free fodder you like, but dinnertime with a toddler, let alone three, is never easy. I silently applaud them for getting through dinner prep without a wine glass in sight.
I follow the amazing smell to the kitchen where a feast is being prepared. Their kitchen is big and there’s a lot going on. Granted, it’s not every day you feed three adults and five children, but the prep work that’s going on makes me worry I little I couldn’t pull off something like this in my own home.
That is until I see the fried rice.
Sharny’s version has all the usual ingredients in there; egg, shallots, ham. Except in this instance the rice is replace with processed cauliflower. Julius throws three big chunks in their Thermomix and in less than five seconds we’ve got ‘rice’, he tells me a food processor will produce the same result.
Jamie approached the bowl apprehensively, took a reluctant bite and refused anymore. Jessica flat out refused. Okay, healthy fried rice wasn’t a winner, but I’m prepared to try this again at home because it ticks all of my boxes; fast, healthy and delicious!
Course two is pizza, a regular in our house. We usually make our own, and I like to think it’s pretty healthy anyway, but Sharny has upped the stakes by replacing the carb-laden base with a thinly filleted chicken breast. It’s smeared with tomato paste and topped with mushrooms, ham, fresh pineapple and cheese. Success! While Jamie was at first put off by the large basil leaves on top, both of them ate almost all of what they were served.
Next was dessert. Unfortunately the habit of a little something sweet after dinner is well-entrenched in my children. This is certainly an area I need some help in. I think we all cheered when Sharny told us that chocolate ice cream and handmade chocolates would be on the menu. We pull out the Thermomix again to help us turn frozen bananas and an egg white into ice cream. I’m blown away at how much it looks like deliciously creamy vanilla ice cream, it tastes great too! Making chocolate ice cream is as simple as adding some raw cacao powder. It looks like the real deal and the kids run to the table to eat. A few spoonfuls in though and my sweet-toothed children have had enough. The same happens with the hand-made chocolates. On the other hand, Sharny’s children, who have rarely been exposed to refined sugars, devour theirs and desperately seek out more.
I understand that our tastebuds grow accustomed to eating less sweet foods, but it’s actually quite confronting to see how my children at such a young age have already become affected by sugar. We’ve been making the frozen banana ice cream, sans cacao, at home in the blender for the past week now with much success.
So aside from the fact that my children eat too much sugar, what have I learned? Not all foods on the menu on the night were a success with my kids, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try them again. Raising a healthy family is a lifetime journey, not something that can be conquered at a dinner party or in a 12 week challenge, as long as we’re all on the same path I’m sure we’ll end up at the same destination.
There’s a photo of a mother of six doing squats while breastfeeding circulating around the internet right now. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as lazy as I do in this moment.
“I caught Sharny multitasking today. In public. #breastercising,” Australian personal trainer Julius Kieser, wrote on Facebook and shared on Instagram last week. “I don’t get the whole breastfeeding in public problem. It’s not disgusting at all,” jokes Kieser. “I actually think we need more chest equality. If more girls got their boobs out, there would be less alcoholism and less drugs.” Not sure if Kieser should quit his day job to become a comedian, but he and his wife certainly are motivated.
Sharny Kieser gave birth to her sixth child two weeks ago — and she’s already squatting like the pro that she is. Of course, because moms can literally never do anything without the internet weighing in about their parenting choices, she’s being judged for everything from not paying full attention to her children, to exercising too soon, to showing off.
Just seems way to self obsessed for my liking! Is it a lack of self confidence or a total “have to be skinny/ perfect thing. I’m sorry , but you put it out there to be judged. I’ll have to unlike your page so that I don’t have to be unkind.
Really! Breast feeding while exercising? I breastfeed my 3 children and felt that they deserved all my time and energy whether it be in public or private… We are/were all busy mums but I think our children deserve us to be completely in the moment with them.
I honestly don’t understand why it’s necessary to exercise whilst breastfeeding? Is it even comfortable? Can you concentrate on doing the exercise properly?
“I feed six times a day, I’m not exercising every time and when I do I’m also watching the kids ride around on their scooters and play outside,” Sharny told the Daily Mail. It’s not like I’m running or leg pressing or doing weights, I’m doing squats and lunges as they are the easiest things to do while feeding…then at night we sit quietly and feed.
Her kids look happy and healthy and she definitely looks the same. There’s nothing in these images but a loving family having some fun with fitness. Cool your jets, internet.
A proud husband’s photo of his wife working out has sparked controversy on Facebook because it shows the mother-of-six doing lunges while simultaneously breastfeeding in a maneuver that he hashtagged, #breastercising.
“I caught Sharny multitasking today. In public. #breastercising,” Julius Kieser, an Australian personal trainer, wrote on Facebook in a caption of the image posted Jan. 26, revealing his wife exercising while nursing their 2-week-old son, Magnus. “I don’t get the whole breastfeeding in public problem. It’s not disgusting at all.”
But judging from the comments on the image, Facebook readers didn’t have a problem with Sharny breastfeeding in public. The problem some had is the double duty she was showing off. “Cut the multitasking crap for 10 [minutes] and enjoy the one on one time with your child,” one commenter replied in part. “We are/were all busy mums but I think our children deserve us to be completely in the moment with them.” Another added, “I honestly don’t understand why it’s necessary to exercise whilst breastfeeding? Is it even comfortable? Can you concentrate on doing the exercise properly?” A third simply asked, “Why?”
The 35-year-old mother, also a trainer, offered an explanation the following day. “A lot of people think it’s gross or strange or that I should be bonding with Magnus, but I feed six times a day, I’m not exercising every time and when I do I’m also watching the kids ride around on their scooters and play outside,” Sharny told the Daily Mail Australia about the controversial photo. “It’s not like I’m running or leg pressing or doing weights, I’m doing squats and lunges as they are the easiest things to do while feeding,” she added. “Then at night we sit quietly and feed.”
Exercising, after all, is nonnegotiable for the self-described “Fit Mum” who runs fitness programs and penned the Healthy Junk cookbook, inspired by her own journey losing the roughly 66 pounds she’d accumulated after her first three children. “I felt like a terrible mother, and that it was just going to be this way forever until something externally changed for me,” Sharny writes on her website. So in the 12 weeks after she welcomed her fourth child, she said she dedicated herself to getting in shape — and lost 52 pounds. “No longer was I afraid of exercise, I learned to LOVE it.”
Then after welcoming her fourth child, the fitness guru told Daily Mail Australia in 2015 that she had another “enough is enough” moment,” when she looked at herself in the mirror and “was like, ‘Oh my god, who has eaten Sharny?’ I felt like this fat old woman and that’s how I saw myself … It was all in my head but I just felt miserable.”
So for her fifth and sixth pregnancies, the mother got serious about staying fit while she was expecting, to help shed her baby weight more quickly afterward. “Walking, squatting, and doing things makes me feel better and feel good,” she said, adding, “With Hugo, my fifth child, I waited a few months before exercising again and it was much harder. If I wait less time I bounce back faster.”
"I caught Sharny multitasking today in public. #breastercising," her husband, Julius Kieser, an Australian personal trainer, wrote on Facebook.
In the pic, Sharny Kieser, who is also a trainer, is nursing their two-week-old son, Magnus.
"I don't get the whole breastfeeding in public problem. It's not disgusting at all," her husband writes in the caption.
Despite his comment, it's not where Sharny is breastfeeding that their Facebook followers are taking issue with. It's the fact that she's not living in the moment. Or YOLOing, so to speak.
"Cut the multitasking crap for 10 [minutes] and enjoy the one on one time with your child," one commenter wrote. "We are/were all busy moms but I think our children deserve us to be completely in the moment with them."
Another added, "I honestly don't understand why it's necessary to exercise whilst breastfeeding? Is it even comfortable? Can you concentrate on doing the exercise properly?" The last time I checked, doing lunges didn't require a great deal of thinking, but then again, I can't recall the last time I did a lunge.
Sharny, 35, replied, "A lot of people think it's gross or strange or that I should be bonding with Magnus, but I feed six times a day, I'm not exercising every time and when I do I'm also watching the kids ride around on their scooters and play outside," Sharny told the Daily Mail.
"It's not like I'm running or leg pressing or doing weights. I'm doing squats and lunges as they are the easiest things to do while feeding," she added. "Then at night we sit quietly and feed."
The self-proclaimed "fit mom" (though we're not arguing with her descriptor), wrote the Healthy Junk cookbook after she lost the nearly 70 pounds she gained after having her first three kids.
"I felt like a terrible mother, and that it was just going to be this way forever until something externally changed for me," Sharny wrote on her website, describing her (very natural) weight gain.
"After the previous four pregnancies I was overweight and I had this 'enough is enough' moment," she told Daily Mail.
"I looked at myself in the mirror and was like oh my God who has eaten Sharny? I felt like this fat old woman and that's how I saw myself… it was all in my head but I just felt miserable."
After she gave birth to her fourth child, she says something snapped. She was ready to get in shape.
"Walking, squatting and doing things makes me feel better and feel good...with Hugo, my fifth child, I waited a few months before exercising again and it was much harder," she said.
"If I wait less time I bounce back faster and it also helps with post natal depression."
"With my other babies, I think I stopped exercising because I was scared that I'd hurt the baby or myself or miscarriage, so I just stopped completely," she said. "By the time I'd fallen pregnant with my fifth baby I realized I'd be fine, so I just went for it to see what I was capable of."
Now she says, she absolutely loves working out, so, haters be damned, if this is how she finds the time to get a squat in, then leave this woman be.
Take a look at the image he captioned in part: “I caught Sharny multitasking today. In public. #breastercising.”
Little Magnus, who is Sharny and Julius’ sixth child, was born just two weeks ago!
Explaining why she’s mixing nursing and squats to Daily Mail Australia the personal trainer shared, “A lot of people think it’s gross or strange or that I should be bonding with Magnus, but I feed six times a day, I’m not exercising every time and when I do I’m also watching the kids ride around on their scooters and play outside.”
“It’s not like I’m running or leg pressing or doing weights, I’m doing squats and lunges as they are the easiest things to do while feeding…then at night we sit quietly and feed,” she went on to say. “On average it can be around 70 calories per 100mL feed – so six feeds a day you can burn quite a few calories.”
“Walking, squatting and doing things makes me feel better and feel good…with Hugo, my fifth child, I waited a few months before exercising again and it was much harder,” Sharny, who transformed into a “fit mum” after shedding 66 pounds between pregnancies four and five. “If I wait less time I bounce back faster and it also helps with postnatal depression.”
While there were quite a few commenters who applauded Sharny’s moves (or at least got a chuckle out of the idea of breastercising), others blatantly do not approve. One comment left on Facebook reads:
“Really! Breast feeding while exercising? I breastfeed my 3 children and felt that they deserved all my time and energy whether it be in public or private. Don’t have an issue with breast feeding at all, I think it’s wonderful, but for the little time you have them as tiny tots could you cut the multitasking crap for 10 mins and enjoy the one on one time with your child. We are/were all busy mums but I think our children deserve us to be completely in the moment with them.”
Although I can see where this commenter is coming from, I can only imagine what life is really like with six kids! I just can’t see any way Sharny would manage “one on one time” with her youngest when the others were home no matter if she were exercising or not. If they’re all out in the yard playing why not work out a little bit if you feel ready?
Plus, the reality is breastfeeding can get really boring. I, too, had moments it felt magical and the world took on a soft glow as I gazed at my babies, but that just doesn’t happen all the time — and many moms end up watching TV or turning to their phones to pass the time. Is doing a few lunges really so different?
My breastfeeding days are long gone, so I won’t be emulating Sharny’s moves, but I’m here to cheer on anyone who has the ambition to try it!