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Features

Katy Tuncer

after birth. When it is safe to move onto proper exercise will depend on various factors including type of birth, fitness prior to and during pregnancy and health complications. Sara: So once the decision is made to take up an active lifestyle, what can doctors do to support with the practical barriers mothers face? Katy: Budget cuts for specialist exercise support and services (especially physiotherapists) are coming at the time of a baby boom and when the economic down-turn is putting extra pressure on families. One of the most important things for mothers to hear is acknowledgment of the challenges they face, and practical advice on how they can overcome them. Setting a goal is one of the simplest and most effective actions. A good goal will motivate the patient over an extended time period, the best ones are specific and positive. We’re also far more likely to stick with a goal if we share it. Personally, I have found a huge amount of motivation to exercise from fellow mums in my local “Socialcise” group which meets every week in the park with buggies.

Practical and credible guidance on postnatal exercise was scarce, and I was determined to address the problem. I’ve always been fit and active (I am still the 400m hurdles record holder for the Oxbridge varsity match); I am scientific and analytical (a Physics graduate and former McKinsey consultant); and I’m an experienced Physical Training Instructor (qualified whilst in the British Army). So I extensively researched the medical literature to understand the detailed exercise needs of the postnatal body. I consulted with medical and postnatal fitness experts, before I began designing a combination of fitness programmes for mums. It was through testing these programmes that my local group of mums started meeting up and supporting each other for exercise sessions in the fresh air with our babies. We did specialist exercises to speed recovery from birth and rebuild core strength, and this was the birth of the first part of the Ready Steady Mums offering – the Virtual Personal Trainer. I worked with a film director to create the video demonstrations and a programmer to build the technical platform which automates a progressive exercise programme tailored for every mum. “Socialcise” is the other major pillar of Ready Steady Mums. Back in those early days we found that exercising together could transform our experience of motherhood. We encouraged friends to get involved and more local groups started springing up around the UK. This is when we invented “Socialcise” and invested in creating the support and resources required for other mums wanting to set up local groups and join this community movement. Sara: As a medical professional, what information and support is available for me from Ready Steady Mums? Katy: We have developed a programme to help health providers support patients with safe, effective exercise. Medical professionals are on the front-line in encouraging mums to invest in themselves and can convince mothers to prioritise self-care. Together we can build healthy, happy families across the U.K. I am personally delighted to hear from GPs, midwives, health visitors who wish to be part of our work. You will encourage new mums to join a free Ready Steady Mums “Socialcise” group to get active and fit following birth. These groups also provide a social forum for mothers to chat and find encouragement from other mums in their area – key to their mental wellbeing. We provide written material and direct advice for you if you have questions about pre and postnatal exercise for your patients. You can contact me by emailing katy@readysteadymums.com.

Sara: I know “Socialcise” is really taking off and has strong support from doctors, midwives and health visitors who want to help mothers with postnatal depression, feeding and sleep issues and self-confidence. How did you create “Socialcise” and other Ready Steady Mums programmes? Katy: I have two sons, now aged two and three. I remember feeling immense pride at what my body had achieved in growing my babies, but shocked at the impact pregnancy and birth had had on me. www.medicalwomensfederation.org.uk

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Medical Woman Magazine V32:4 September 2014  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...

Medical Woman Magazine V32:4 September 2014  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...