Published on Jul 20, 2015
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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.
There we are, pushing and swearing and screaming our way through childbirth like it’s some sort of, I don’t know, labour, when we could have been smiling through a 15-minute ‘pain-free’ delivery.
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 stopped exercise 7 years ago because of kids
"Med mitt femte barn Hugo väntade jag flera månader innan jag började träna igen och det var mycket tuffare. Om jag inte drar på det lika länge (den här gången) kommer jag i form snabbare och dessutom hjälper det mot förlossningsdepression, säger Sharny Kieser till Daily Mail Australia.
Träningshets – eller ett sunt sätt att komma tillbaka efter graviditet?
Nyblivna mamman Sharny Kieser har rört upp känslorna rejält i sociala medier.
Två veckor efter förlossningen gör hon knäböj på gräsmattan – samtidigt som hon ammar sin son.
"Förfärligt", skriver folk på Facebook.
Tidigare har diskussionerna ofta handlat om hetsen att komma i gång med träningen efter en graviditet. Nyblivna mammor känner press på sig att bli av med sina extrakilon – och pushar kroppen för tidigt och hårt, med tanke på vad den har gått igenom.
Men den senaste händelsen att skapa debatt är 35-åriga Sharny Kiesers lansering av "breastercising", det vill säga kombinerad amning och träning. Två veckor efter att hennes sjätte son Magnus kommit till världen poserar den australiska PT:n på bild när hon ammar bebisen, samtidigt som hon går ner i "squat"-position på gräsmattan utanför familjens hus.
– Promenader, knäböj och andra aktiviteter får mig att må bättre. Med mitt femte barn Hugo väntade jag flera månader innan jag började träna igen och det var mycket tuffare. Om jag inte drar på det lika länge kommer jag i form snabbare och dessutom hjälper det mot förlossningsdepression, säger hon till Daily Mail Australia.
LÄS OCKSÅ: 7 viktkrig som bara en mammaledig förstår
"Jag tränar inte varje gång"
Men reaktionerna lät inte vänta på sig. När Sharny Kiesers make Julian postade den kontroversiella bilden på Facebook rasade upprörda kommentarer in.
Användare kallade tilltaget "förfärligt" och varnade andra nyblivna och blivande föräldrar för risken med att börja träna för tätt inpå en förlossning.
Huvudpersonen själv försvarar dock sin handling:
– Jag ammar sex gånger per dag, och jag tränar inte varje gång. Dessutom är det inte som att jag springer eller styrketränar. Jag gör knäböj och utfall, övningar som är enkla att utföra medan man ger bröstet.
Vid sina första graviditeter gick Sharny Kieser upp 30 kilo - och hamnade i en ond spiral av onyttig mat, illamående och depression.
Genom att lyssna på kroppen, träna och äta bra blev de senaste upplevelserna helt annorlunda.
– Nu är jag redo att ta nästa kliv och få tillbaka min kropp, bli supertrimmad och bara ha kul med barnen, säger hon enligt Mail Online.
Posadnutá cvičením? Trénerka vyvolala touto fotkou veľkú diskusiu
Osobná trénerka Sharny Kieser vyvolala na sociálnej sieti veľkú diskusiu. Problémom bola snímka, na ktorej cvičí a pri tom dojčí svojho dvojtýždňového syna Magnusa. Fotku zdieľal je manžel Julius.
Komentujúci sa chytali za hlavu, ako môže čerstvá 35-ročná mamička takto skoro po pôrode cvičiť a ešte pri tom aj dojčiť. Iné mamy sa pridali ku kritike a pýtali sa Sharny, či sa nebojí, že stratí mlieko.
„Necvičím náročné cviky s činkami, taktiež nebehám. Cvičenie s vlastnou váhou tela nie je pre mňa, ani pre moje dieťa nebezpečné. Počúvam len svoje telo, " vyjadrila sa mamička pre DailyMail Australia. Spájať dojčenie s cvičením nepovažuje za nič nepochopiteľné. Mamičky upozorňuje, že len pri dojčení môžu spáliť až 400 kalórii za deň.
„Cítim sa proste dobre, preto cvičím. Pri piatom dieťati to bolo inak. Kým som začala cvičiť, som čakala niekoľko mesiacov a potom to bolo náročné," povedala. Sharny nebola zástankyňou fit tehotenstva odjakživa. Pri prvom dieťati sa stravovala nezdravo a počas tehotenstva pribrala viac, ako chcela. Až pri piatom dieťati sa priklonila k fit tehotenstvu a cíti sa dobre.
Mom of six is burns calories by multi-tasking while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding in public and moms showing off their post-baby bodies on social media are always under scrutiny. But for one proud Australian husband and dad of six, his wife is an inspiration.
Julius Kieser recently shared photos of his wife, Sharny, on Instagram and Facebook doing the ultimate job in multitasking, captioned with the clever hashtag, #breastercising. She’s seen breastfeeding her 2-week-old baby while doing squats, with some of her other kids looking along or playing within eyeshot. For a new mom, let alone a mom of six, Sharny’s commitment to keeping fit and healthy deserves an applause.
Not for some naysayers, though. People have posted judgmental comments suggesting Sharny isn’t paying close enough attention to her kids and that she’s self-obsessed. Julius sees Sharny as motivated and has no issue with public breastfeeding. He thinks more women should do so. He happens to be a personal trainer too, so it’s no wonder he’s keen on his wife keeping active.
What are your thoughts on his #breastercising posts? Is it too soon to exercise, or is Sharny a good example of a motivated momma?
You might also be interested in:
Watch How People React to this Mom Breastfeeding in Public
Julius Kieser is an Australian personal trainer who’s super fit wife, Sharny, is also a trainer. He shared a photo of the mom doing lunges while breastfeeding their 2-week-old son, Magnus, on Facebook with the caption, “I caught Sharny multitasking today. In public.#breastercising.”
Magnus is the couple’s sixth child, so this super fit mom, is also super busy, thus the need for multi-tasking. One commenter thought this photo was going too far, saying moms should just sit and enjoy the short time our babies need us, posting, “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.”
However, most comments were more supportive, like this one from Kirstin Skye, “I guess when you are a busy mum you have to make every minute count. I have done a lot of crazy things whilst breastfeeding like gone to the toilet, cooking and grocery shopping.”
Sharny offered a response to some of those critical of the photo, telling the Daily Mail Australia, “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,” she added. “Then at night we sit quietly and feed.”
The couple offer fitness inspiration and tips for busy parents. They came to realize their desire to be fit after the birth of their fourth child. Sharny committed to lose the weight that crept up on her over the course of having children, and lost 52 pounds. She continued to exercise, but realized that it was easier to continue to do so during her pregnancies as it was easier to get back into shape that way.
Did you continue to exercise during your pregnancies?
Breastfeeding while exercising – is it possible and even necessary?
This photo of a mum 'breastercising' has caused quite a stir on Facebook.
The picture shows mum-of-6 Sharny Kieser doing lunges while breastfeeding her 2-week-old son Magnus.
“I caught Sharny multitasking today. In public. #breastercising,” her husband Julius, an Australian personal trainer, wrote sharing the picture on Facebook.
But the fitness-loving couple couldn't have predicted the reaction to the post would be so divided.
"You are one super mum - go on you," one supporter commented.
"I guess when you are a busy mum you have to make every minute count. I have done a lot of crazy things whilst breastfeeding like gone to the toilet, cooking and grocery shopping," another who could see the benefits of multitasking added.
But others accused Sharny's breastercising of not being necessary at all.
"Really! Breastfeeding while exercising? I breastfed 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 breastfeeding 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," one mum commented.
"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?" another questioned the practice.
But fitness fanatic Sharny didn't take the comments to heart and responded to the negativity by posting another picture.
"Sometimes when I'm #breastercising, I live dangerously and do a really deep squat like this," she commented.
The 35-year-old, who's also a fitness trainer, decided to get fitter than ever after her 4th child. And after losing 52lb she hasn't looked back.
Explaining the controversial breastercising pictures, she said: "A lot of people think it’s gross or strange or that I should be bonding with Magnus, but I feed 6 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," she told Daily Mail Australia. "Then at night we sit quietly and feed.
You see, when you take all of these things together, it’s so much more than being “fat” or being “thin”. Fat or thin are a small part. But fat or thin (or fit) are important, because like the iceberg, they are usually all that we can see - and give a pretty clear picture of what is going on under the surface.
"My baby feels like a big creamy doughnut..." I'd say. My baby liked doughnuts. Nearly every day. Then he came out. And I was still eating doughnuts.
I stopped breastfeeding and was still eating doughnuts...
It took me that long to realise that maybe it was just my fat ass that felt like eating doughnuts.
Back then, we didn’t have “squatters arse” to hide behind. If you had a fat arse (which I certainly did) it was because you had a fat arse. You couldn’t pretend you’d been doing squats your whole life.
I hated my arse. In fact I hated everything. My outlook on life was fat on every level there was.
I can remember my teenage son avoiding eye contact with me so that I wouldn’t go off at him. That was when he was around. That poor boy avoided home… I barely saw him, and when I did, I just unloaded all my anger on him. Everything he had done or hadn’t done became bones of contention I’d carry around all day (with my packet of biscuits) so I could use them on his “arrogant teenage attitude.”
Julius has a mate Aaron who has 4 kids, and I laughed when he told me how Aaron said one day that going home after work was scary.
“It’s like having a monster in the house. The closer to home I get, the more anxious I get. By the time I get home I'm on edge. I sneak inside nervous about what mood she is in, and what part of the house she is in.”
I laugh now, but that monster was me.
My husband would avoid me because he didn’t want to fight, but I saw it as he didn’t care about me. So when I saw him I'd just be even more angry. Angry at myself for eating so much, for hurting and for yelling at him yesterday. So angry that I’d just scream at him again.
I blamed hormones, I blamed him, I blamed pregnancy, I turned against everything but myself. Because I was the victim. I was the one that this pregnancy was happening to.
Then the children were born and my behaviour had become habitual.
I blamed breastfeeding and lack of sleep. I blamed having too many children and not enough money. These were all real things, and to me they were valid. But they just amplified the truth underneath.
…and the behaviour continued.
I got pregnant again. The cycle repeated for 3 pregnancies and then one day I decided that enough was enough. The house only ever saw joy when I was asleep. My husband didn’t want to come near me, my children were scared of me and I hated myself.
How could this have happened? Was I always this much of a bitch?
I remember having fun. Being fun. It was as if I had forgotten how to have fun. And when I thought about having fun, I just felt sad. “You’re a mum. You’re pregnant again. You’ve got bills and stress and… It’s all just too hard… you need to take this seriously Sharny.”
And there it was.
I knew that to be good at anything, I had to take it seriously.
But did I need to be so serious?
To take something seriously, do you need to be serious?
To take something seriously, do you need to be serious? #pregfit
In my pursuit to be a good mother, I had taken serious to a whole other level - I had become an aggressive dictator.
I realised then and there that I could take mothering seriously and have fun at the same time. I’m in the fitness industry. I’m surrounded by and working with world class athletes all day. They take their sport seriously. But they also have fun.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that to be at their best, a professional athlete needs to be having fun. Being in the zone, feeling it. Being in that state of perfection requires you to take your job seriously, but to do it with love, and to have fun.
See, not once was body fat the real issue. Fat and Fit are my language, the language I speak. I’m in the fitness industry. PregFAT was not about body shape, it was about being a monster, while believing I was the victim.
#PregFAT was not about body shape, it was about being a monster, while believing I was the victim.
Sure, I had put on 30kg, but what I looked like on the outside was just indicative of what I felt like on the inside.
And when I changed my inside, not only did my body change… my whole world changed.
I get emotional when I see another pregFAT mum. I can see myself in her and I just wish I could reach out and hug her and tell her “you’re not a monster…”
Think of it like this.
Does the butterfly see herself as a monster because she is no longer a caterpillar?
Pregnancy and birth are a complete transformation. From beautiful girl to beautiful woman. See, it’s not just the baby that gets born. The girl is reborn, transformed. The girl becomes a woman.
All I did to go from pregFAT to pregFIT was to see myself for what I had become. I wasn’t a deformed caterpillar, I was a perfect, beautiful, magnificent butterfly.
“I am pregFIT”
It’s literally that easy.
Say it out loud.
Once you see yourself as pregFIT, you’ll be pregFIT. You’ll do pregFIT things.
You’ll eat to support your pregFIT body, which will become stronger because it supports your pregFIT mind… You’ll love the people around you. and you’ll love yourself.
When I finally transformed, I felt as though I had been given a gift. A second chance at life. I was so lucky that I changed when I did. If I’d kept going the way I was, I would have caused irreparable damage.
the journey from pregFAT to pregFIT is so exciting and so individual and personal for each mum. If I could wish for anything it would be that every mother gets the chance to experience a pregFIT pregnancy once in their lives.
Your journey, your transformation starts within. The joys of which will fill an entire book. I sat down to write my journey down one day and it ended up becoming a book.
Women have read my book and felt inspired by it and began their own transformations.
The love and joy I get from them on a daily basis literally floods me with happiness.
If you’re pregnant now, I URGE you to get the book for yourself. It’s not a long read and I promise you that you’ll be a different person by the time you’ve finished reading it.
You’ll be pregFIT. But to be it, you've got to believe it's possible, then see that it's possible for you. That's what the book does. You deserve to know.
PregFAT is a product of fear. Fear of doing something wrong. Fear of hurting your baby. Fear of being judged as a bad mother.
PregFIT needs to be born from courage. Know and BELIEVE that it is all inside you and you have all the tools and all the knowledge you need to do the right thing by your baby.
Your baby chose you for a reason. They believe in you so much, that they put their entire life on the line. They gave you total control. Now you need to stop giving away that control to your fears. To someone else.
That picture I started the whole post with... that's me. That's how I feel and that's how I am.
I am physically and mentally fit. I am emotionally stable and optimistic. Internally and externally healthy. People tell me I am exuding vitality and they are right!
I'm spiritually connected to my baby, my husband and 5 children. I'm connected to myself, which is something I never knew I had been avoiding.
I'm self confident and I'm just in LOVE!
I made a whole infographic on the changes I've seen in myself. Below you'll see them, and the ones I've listed are the most remarkable ones. So many little things have changed for the better, but I'll leave them for you to discover for yourself in your journey.
The choice is truly yours.
All my love