We spoke to British swimmer and four-time Olympic medallist, Becky Adlington OBE about becoming a new mum after the birth of her daughter Summer. We wanted to know how Becky integrated her training with her pregnancy and how she now balances motherhood and staying fit.
Training During Pregnancy
As a former professional athlete, you might assume Becky would find it easy to bounce back to peak fitness within two months but she assures us she was not exempt from the hard work that goes into the entire journey of pregnancy, birth and its demands on a woman’s body. Becky admits:
“I didn’t really appreciate what pregnancy did to your body until I’d been through it. I kind of thought your body will just suck back to normal. You see celebs in the press who seemed to have regained their shape after two days and think “Oh, that’s how it is”. But it’s not like that at all.”
Regular stretching provided great relief during the later stages of pregnancy when carrying extra weight proved uncomfortable. Maintaining her flexibility throughout, Becky said that moving around helped her manage the pain. In terms of the training Becky adopted during these nine months, it remained consistent with her normal plan but with a reduced intensity and more swimming towards the last months.
“I kept to my normal routine in the gym but reduced it and avoided getting my heart rate over 150. If I was really huffing and puffing I slowed down or eased back. It only really changed the bigger I got and that’s when I found swimming was such a huge help because it was the only time I really felt comfortable. In the water, you feel weightless and I swam right up to the week before I gave birth. I was still doing tumble turns and kept up my training throughout in its various forms. I only really stopped when I got a bad cold.”
Motherhood And Training
Six weeks after giving birth to Summer, Becky started gradually rebuilding her fitness in her own time, when her body felt ready and was mindful that some muscles like her abs were torn from the birth.
“The mid wife gave me some little exercises to do every day to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles and I also started swimming again.Then I reintroduced small runs and exercises that incorporated jumps and skipping.”
Aside from the physical aspects of giving birth, there are also the logistics of now having a small baby who naturally needs your attention. We asked Becky how she managed to juggle her time and if she even had any energy left to work out.
“It is really hard. I think especially because my husband Harry and I don’t have any family near us which means we have less help. I only manage to work out three or four times a week, so not every day. Harry will say, “I’ll look after Summer and you can go and work out”. We’ve also got a garage in our house that we’ve set up with a running machine, some ropes, a TRX, a few dumbbells and a skipping rope. I just go in there.”
Becky has already taken Summer to the pool and rather than waiting until memories of being surrounded by water in the womb have gone, Becky says that it’s a good idea to get them straight back to it and that according to the NHS website you can take them as early as three weeks old. Apparently Summer absolutely loves her swimming trips and it’s a great way for mother and daughter to spend some time together. On a wider scale, Becky supports this notion of getting kids used to the water via her programme Swim Stars which has the objective to ensure that all children can swim 25 metres by the time they leave school.
Becky’s Thoughts On Maternity Fitness Wear
It seems that there is still some way to go before we have a really great selection of choice in fitness maternity wear. Becky recalls that there were a vast amount of pregnancy swimming costumes to choose from but little in the way of affordable workout clothes that you only need to wear for a short time. She remarks that people will always be getting pregnant and that women will always need maternity fitness wear and therefore the industry should be focusing on developing ranges that are comfortable, stylish, and don’t cost the earth.
“A lot of women that I’ve spoken to have told me they don’t want to spend loads because you’re only pregnant for nine months and to be honest the first four months you don’t really need to be in maternity wear anyway. I wanted something that fits and that will grow with me as well, not a specific size but something that will stretch.”
And in terms of Becky’s maternity wear staples during her pregnancy.
“For swimming I wore a Slazenger swimsuit. They’re really well priced, really colourful, they fit perfectly, and I could wear them through my whole pregnancy. I’ve only just now, after three months, got back into my normal costume. For maternity fitness wear I found a brand called Mums 2Be Fit Wear. I wore below the knee capri pants leggings which were so good because you can either fold them down so they’re under your bump or you can fold them up to go over your bump and they totally stretched with you and they were so comfy. I really liked the Victoria Secret sports bras too because their band isn’t as tight.”