An advanced abdominal planking exercise in the Pram Fit class which along with other exercises are scaled depending on where women are in recovery.
An advanced abdominal planking exercise in the Pram Fit class which along with other exercises are scaled depending on where women are in recovery.

Love, sweat and tears for mums keeping fit

MEG Dougherty is a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist and runs half marathons.

Yet when she fell pregnant with her first child, suddenly she found her body not wanting to exercise.

“It was a challenging time, your body changes and dealing with things like morning sickness changes the way you feel” she said.

“Thankfully, because of the knowledge I have in this area I was aware of what was going on, but I always wondered what it would be like for people without that knowledge.”

Seeing a gap in exercise services for pregnant and post-natal women, Meg through her employer Yamba Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic, created a “Preglates” class - pilates for pregnant women, and a “Mums and Bubs” class to help women exercise after the birth of their children which has been running for the past 18 months.

“There is so much conflicting information out there, from people who think ‘I’m pregnant I can’t do anything’ to fitness models who don’t change their routine at all, I wanted to find a happy medium,” she said.

“In the Preglates class we go through which exercises are safe throughout pregnancy and just make small changes - for example instead of women doing jumping exercises they do may do more low impact options.”

Instructor Meg Dougherty teaches a mum correct hand placement for the
Instructor Meg Dougherty teaches a mum correct hand placement for the "baby chest press" exercise.

Meg said the act of getting women out of the house and doing something for themselves, while still having the babies close by was a major drawing point for the classes, as well as having a therapeutic value.

“What is often overlooked is the social aspect of the classes. Sometimes women can get stuck inside the four walls of their house, and here they can get together, talk and support each other and often go out for coffee afterwards,” Meg said.

“We also do the classes outside, and it’s been shown that outdoor exercise in the post-natal period can help decrease the risk of post-natal depression. It’s not the main focus of the program, but it’s something I’m very aware of.

And rather than the baby being put into a creche situation, the babies are not only close by, but form part of the exercise routines.

“The babies lie underneath the mums while they do modified pushups, hold the babies while they do squats and lunges, or even just lie on the mat next to them while the mums do pilates style exercises,” Meg said.

“And when the babies get big or past nine months, we also have a Pram Fit class, where mums with babies between 9 months and 4 years old can do activities with them.”

And now 25 weeks pregnant with her second child, Meg says the women in her class have a real empathy with her, and ask questions of her.

“It is really nice at the moment we’re all around the same stage, and it’s pretty social,” Meg said.

“The thing I enjoy the most is to see the women who come to preglates, have the baby, come back to Mum’s and Bubs and go on to Pramfit. They go into each stage with a higher-level of knowledge and it really helps them.”



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