Every woman’s postpartum journey is different and can often come as quite a surprise, something Australian Olympic athlete Giaan Rooney knows all too well. In this blog the Life-Space Probiotics ambassador and mum of two shares her postpartum health and wellness journey.
Can you describe what the first few months postpartum were like for you, both physically and mentally?
The first few months after giving birth was the largest roller coaster of emotions I have ever experienced. I would go from extreme joy to utter breaking point, sometimes within minutes. I have never been more physically, emotionally and mentally drained in my life. For the first time I felt like I was really failing – the fact that I expected parenting to come naturally to me made it even worse.
Physically, I had no birth injuries to overcome so I consider myself lucky. However, neither of my children were natural sleepers so I found the sleep deprivation the most debilitating component of the early stages. I went to a sleep school with Zander when he was 6 and a half months old and needed the aid of sleep consultants with Lexi. To say I felt like I was failing at parenthood is an understatement!
How did you rebuild strength, mentally and physically, postpartum? What exercises did you do personally?
Early on in my parenting journey I learnt that you can have the best laid plans on how your new life will be, but your baby hasn’t read these plans! I had to learn to go with the flow which was extremely difficult for me, and to celebrate the small wins, which might just mean having a shower! I started walking with the pram almost immediately and found that being out in the fresh air was a life saver. The kids never slept in the pram (or the car) but they seemed to enjoy the movement as much as I did.
I did nothing other than walk the first time around until we were both getting some sleep. Honestly, I couldn’t have handled anything else. With Lexi I found I could return to Pilates when she was around 4 months old. I loved that Pilates was helping me physically as well as giving me some ‘me’ time too.
How important was nutrition to your postpartum recovery journey?
In general I didn’t focus too much on what I was eating both during pregnancy and after it. I have always had a healthy relationship with food and enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Plus, I never deny myself anything. So throughout the early stages of pregnancy I craved toasted sandwiches and salt and vinegar chips. Then eventually I craved salads and fruit platters at the end! Overall I just made sure to consume enough of the right foods so I could pass those nutrients on to my children.
I love my fruit and vegies as well as plenty of protein and fibre. The only thing I need to keep an eye on are my calcium sources as I can’t tolerate traditional dairy.
What was the most interesting thing you learnt about human health and wellbeing in your postpartum journey?
I was well aware of the important role that gut health plays in your overall wellbeing. But, I found it fascinating that our bodies develop the cornerstone of our microbiome during the first 1000 days of life. Exposure to a diverse range of bacteria and plenty of fresh air can support its development. Surrounding yourself with nature (including playing in the dirt!) and a varied diet also support it.
How have you shared your passion for health and wellbeing with your kids?
Health has always been of the utmost importance to me as I want to be around for as long as possible! I have tried to teach my kids the importance of being active and of the need to give our body the best fuel in the way of food, that it needs to operate and to encourage healthy relationships with both themselves and others. In my experience, healthy people are happy people!
Click here to find out more about the microbiome. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.