Guest Post

I had an entry into the 2006 London marathon but unfortunately suffered an injury so had to defer.

I then realised that if I moved quickly there was a chance I could become pregnant with my second child and still be able to run in the 2007 marathon and not lose my deferred place.

I was incredibly fortunate that with both pregnancies I didn’t suffer from morning sickness or any pains.

I managed to keep running through both pregnancies.

With the second one, I managed a gentle 5-mile run in some light snow in the morning and then went into labour that evening.

Unfortunately, my daughter (like my son) has to be extracted immediately due to the monitors showing they were in distress so I had to have emergency sections for both.

My daughter was born on the 21st of February.

I think because I kept fit that I recovered fairly quickly. Before the marathon which was seven weeks after birth, I managed to get up to 14 miles as my longest run.

I had run two marathons before so I did at least have an awareness of what was coming.

My biggest fear was how I would manage running whilst breastfeeding.

I packed a battery-operated breast pump into my kit bag but thankfully didn’t need to express on the start line!

I think I may have been the only person to finish a marathon with boobs bigger than when I started.

I’d run London in 2005 which was one week before my son’s first birthday and I was driven to do it again in order to get another medal so my children could have one each.

I find running is an absolute part of my life and is wonderful for helping to keep my mental health well.

I suffered in silence with PND after the birth of my son (see below for more).

He was delivered without me going into labour – I went for a routine check at the hospital and was told he needs to come out now.

It was quite a shock and I felt like I’d failed as a mother for not going through labour and a birth.

I was just given a baby! Running helps me to feel proud, it helps manage my relationship with food, and the feel-good buzz I get along with the mindfulness when running in fields and tracks is unlike anything else.

In terms of weight loss, I found breastfeeding really helped get the weight off and I was fortunate to be able to feed both children for some time.

For me, I needed to have something which was just for me and that was running.

Without it, I would’ve gone stir crazy as I tried to learn how to be a mum.

My experience with postnatal depression (PND)

With my firstborn, I think the main shock was the lack of sleep.

Having been an only child with no siblings or cousins I was totally unaware of how babies operated.

I used to obsess over his sleep routine during the day and would become super anxious if he fell asleep after 3 pm.

I’d go out of my way to ensure we didn’t go out in the car or buggy to prevent him from dozing late as I was fearful of the broken sleep at night.

I went back to full-time work when he was six months old and found myself also finding extra time to exercise to try and stay away from him at times.

Just before he was two and started talking I felt like we finally bonded.

Before that, I’d spent months feeling like a failure for having the baby delivered to me without me having to play any part!

My parents looked after him whilst I was at work and I can remember being full of anxiety when they wouldn’t have him on a bank holiday or when they went away – I used to feel quite panicky about having to cope alone.

With my daughter, I breastfed her for longer (my son I fed for ten months) and my daughter for up to two years.

I partly did this to keep the bond and to prevent me from avoiding having time with her.

It meant I had to be there to feed her before bed.

With my son – I did try to avoid time with him a lot.

I wish I had recognised the symptoms and gone to seek help.

I just kept it bottled up and thought I must be a failure at motherhood because everyone else loved being with their child.

With a supporting mum and dad and partner though I obviously got through it and the moment when I could really start communicating with my son was when we turned a corner.

A couple of things I do remember which should have been warning signs were at about six weeks with my son, he was crying through the night and I was exhausted and I took him to my partner and asked him if he would take him back to the hospital.

I genuinely said I couldn’t cope and wanted him to be returned.

Another time my lovely mum offered to have my son overnight.

She said if I could express enough milk then he could sleep there and I could get a full night’s sleep.

I can remember saying to my mum that I was scared of this.

The reason – I was scared that I wouldn’t want to return to collect him.

It’s quite something admitting that now but it was the terrifying feeling I had.

My son is 15 now and my daughter is 12 so it was a while back.

These days I’m just a taxi for the pair of them! 

PS. If you (or someone you know) show signs of postnatal anxiety or postnatal depression and/or if you feel like you can’t cope, I invite you to check out my book Motherhood – The Unspoken.

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