The Windsurfer's Guide to Pregnancy

The RYA’s chief windsurfing and dinghy instructor, Amanda Van Santen, who is currently on maternity leave, explains how she stayed fit during pregnancy to ensure she could get back out on her board as soon as possible…

In October 2011, my husband, Tom Buggy, and I found out we were expecting our first child, very exciting, but pretty daunting too!

Windsurfing has, and will continue to be, a large part of my life. We have both always relished in the fact that we have managed to work in the industry we love, as well as live in a place that gives us the lifestyle and freedom that enables us to get on the water at great locations, which are only a stone’s throw away, so being able to share this with our own family was an exciting thought.

Amanda in windsurfing action in Maui
Amanda windsurfing in Maui

However, to someone that has an addiction (only slight!!) to exercise, and gets withdrawal symptoms if she can’t get on the water as much as possible, it was important for me to keep fit and healthy while pregnant, hopefully ensuring a healthy pregnancy, baby and quick return to the water!

While pregnant I found little ‘sound’ advice about what I could and couldn’t do. Now, I am no doctor, just a mum with a healthy eight week old baby boy, currently feeding like a demon in his Granddad’s arms. So I would like to share this information with others as I truly believe it has made a big difference to both Blake (our son) and myself, pre and post birth.

I windsurfed up until about four months, but then we were plagued by a long spell of no wind and so I thought it was best to hang up my harness. This is when I turned to other sports I thought would complement windsurfing to ensure a quick return!

Anyone who has been pregnant will know that the first few months can be pretty tiring, but also thereafter, in the later stages, you can be limited as to what you can do as your bump grows, so general fitness is key! During the nine months I committed to a complete variety of exercise, and chucked in a few challenges along the way.

Wetsuit and baby bump
Wetsuit and baby bump

Being on the water was essential, so I SUP’d as often as possible – much to the amusement of most others in the water, as pregnant women do look fairly amusing in wetsuits!! I really believe this helped me both mentally and physically, helping with my core stability and giving me my much needed dose of water time.

For general fitness, I managed to keep mountain biking and running until I was about seven months and even took part in the Wiggle New Forest MTB event. It was goals similar to the Wiggle event that kept me motivated and stopped me coming home from work and sitting on the sofa for the evening. I restricted running to the gym later in pregnancy to ensure I wasn’t being too harsh on my body’s ability to carry the baby, and when I couldn’t get out on my bike, I amused my spinning class by turning up right up until his birth – the space between me and the other people in my class slowly got bigger as they were convinced I would, rather amusingly, give birth during a spinning class!

As a keen swimmer, I knew this was a sport I could do and truly relax when I really I didn’t fancy doing anything else. It’s also a great sport to do while pregnant, due to its gentle effects on the body, and when you get a little heavier it really is nice to just float! Mixed in with Pilates, and some key exercises, these are both sports I continued to do until about three days before Blake was born, it was only the painting of our new house that prevented me from continuing!!

To help ensure my body was dealing with the change well, ensure my posture remained good and as the weight I was carrying developed, I visited a McTimoney Chiropractor. This made a huge difference during pregnancy, the birth, but also afterwards.

Now eight weeks after our son Blake Koa’s birth, I am fully signed off by the doctor and back swimming, the road bike is up and running, the Pilates is helping tone my core (check out one of my Pilates instructors core toning exercises, kindly shared below) and I hope to be on the water for a gentle windsurf on the next decent forecast.

Amanda on right - Wiggle New Forest MTB event
Amanda on right - Wiggle New Forest MTB event

With a picture of Robbie Nash hanging above his changing mat and the water training already underway in the bath, his dad has him in the pipeline to be the next windsurfing champion!

I strongly believe our healthy son and my feeling now has everything to do with the healthy diet and exercise I managed to keep up.

 

Postnatal core toning exercises from ‘Bonnie Williams – B Fit’

After giving birth exercise may be the last thing on your mind, however your body will now be swiftly adapting itself preparing to tackle the new challenges of bringing up a new born.

A gentle postnatal Pilates routine is a fantastic choice to help your body tackle the new challenges that lie ahead. A Pilates programme will gradually build up the body, strengthening and toning the muscles that have been weakened and any postural problems that may have developed through the pregnancy. Pilates exercises will help to rehabilitate your pelvic floor, realign the spine and gently strengthen the abdominals aiding in the relief of back pain and the recovery of rectus diastasis. The focus and concentration required within Pilates will offer a stress relief that often accompanies the demands of motherhood.

Baby Blake - eat - sleep - windsurf
Baby Blake - eat - sleep - windsurf

A fantastic exercise to start doing straight away is your pelvic floor exercises; the exercise tightens and relaxes the muscles encouraging blood flow to the area which helps the process of healing as well as gaining back control over the muscles after birth.

Imagining your pelvic floor is like a lift in a building, stand or sit up tall, breathing full and wide into your back and sides. As you breath out draw up the muscles taking them to the first floor in the building, breath in and release back, breath out pull up to the second floor, breath in release, breath out come up to the third floor, breath in release, breath out take the lift all the way up to the pent house, breath in and release. Do the exercise frequently wherever you are, in batches of six.

Find out more about the RYA and what they can offer you at http://www.rya.org.uk

 

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