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Q&A: MumHood Co-Founder Pip Black

Pip Black on the importance of exercise during pregnancy and early motherhood

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Finding the time (and motivation) to exercise is tough enough, so throw pregnancy or motherhood into the mix and it can seem impossible. Enter MUMHOOD, fitness brand Move Your Frame’s new online platform, founded by Pip Black and Joan Murphy.

Frame founders Pip Black and Joan Murphy

Pip tells us why exercise is so important for new mums and mums-to-be, and why this new online platform may even help combat lonliness.


How did MUMHOOD come about?

When Joan and I fell pregnant for the first time, it was quite a shock to find how limited the options for pregnant women to continue to exercise were. As a new mum, exercise, especially group exercise, will help get you out of the house and help to prevent postnatal depression. It will also help you to get on with your daily life (carrying your baby + car seat etc.) without injuring yourself, and help to boost your energy levels.

When Joan fell pregnant the second time, the timing felt right for us to seriously think about launching Mumhood which we had been quietly working on for the past year or so. Through Frame we had started to see the number of pregnant ladies coming into the studios confused and wondering what they can/can’t do, but keen to keep exercising and we wanted to do something positive that would be of benefit both to our current customers, but also to those pregnant ladies and new mums around the country, who may not have access to somewhere like Frame.

How difficult is it to stay in shape during pregnancy and early motherhood?

Time is an obstacle, as is not having childcare and feeling exhausted. However, the benefits of staying fit and active are so huge it’s worth working out ways to get round these hurdles, and with Mumhood, we’ve done the work for you.

During this time in your life, little and often is the way forward when it comes to exercise. The benefits you’ll see from 15-20 minutes 4+ times a week consistently, will far outweigh a weekly 1-hour session at the gym.

Also, when you’re tired and getting childcare in place so you can get out to the gym is proving tricky, it’s so easy to just pass on that much-needed stress-relief session. That’s why we’ve made our videos short, easy to do at home with very little space, when and where you want, and with only very small, portable equipment. We can all fit in 15 minutes but attempting an hour session whilst bubba sleeps, is just setting yourself up to fail.

Frame founders Pip Black and Joan Murphy

Frame founders Pip Black and Joan Murphy

Why is it important to exercise & move throughout this time?

As you enter a new stage of your life, keeping fit and healthy is more important than ever, you’re going to need a new-found strength, both mentally and physically, to deal with carrying car seats up flights of stairs, cooking one-handed with a baby on your hip, and to endure yet another sleepless night.

The right kind of exercises during pregnancy and as a new mum can also go a long way to reducing or completely preventing any pain that can result from the changes going on in your body as your baby grows inside you and as it starts to knit itself back together post birth.

The benefits of pre-natal exercise

What are the benefits of exercise throughout pregnancy and how can it affect the birth experience?

Gone are the days when we were told to ‘sit on the sofa and eat cake’ when pregnant. There is now plenty of research to prove that staying active during pregnancy has many benefits to both your mental and physical wellbeing.

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Helps strengthen your body and overall endurance in preparation for labour
  • Helps you maintain a base level of fitness
  • Helps reduce backache, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • May help prevent, or treat gestational diabetes
  • Increases your energy levels
  • Helps to relieve stress and muscle tension
  • Aids your body’s recovery after birth, including the strength and tone of your pelvic floor and core muscles

Research has proven that women with a strong ‘deep core’ and pelvic floor are more likely to have a short ‘push phase’ in labour. Labour can go on for a very long time; Joan’s first labour was almost 3 days before she had an emergency C-section and Pip had a 28-hour labour… You need a huge amount of stamina and endurance to deal with this, especially if you are hoping to have a natural birth.

Pip Black

Pip & Phin

How do you fit exercise into your life?

Whenever I can. And we’ve learnt that the key is to not stress when you can’t. Sometimes life gets in the way and it just isn’t possible, after all we’re mums now and our kids are number one priority.

On a Monday I leave the house at 6.30am (Peter takes Phin to nursery) and I do a 7am class before I start work, Tuesday evening’s I have a babysitter, so I try to fit in a class if possible, then I do our Mumhood Pregnancy programme at home twice a week and chase my 2-year old around Victoria Park on his scooter on a Saturday. I live up eight flights of stairs so that’s a daily workout in itself!

How can new mums feel like themselves again?

I think exercise and hanging out with like-minded mums in social situations where you’re not just talking about baby stuff is key. Exercise is time to yourself, it’s de-stressing and it releases endorphins which are a natural high. Through getting your body back to the strength it was pre pregnancy, you’ll also start to feel more like you. Having something in your life that makes you think about you, rather than just your baby, is really important and can be really hard, but I think it’s really key to remember that a Happy healthy mum = happy healthy family. If you’re feeling good, you’ll be such a better mum / wife / partner / friend… so it’s worth investing a little in yourself and what better way than exercise, that has long-lasting effects!

Frame founders Pip Black and Joan Murphy

Motherhood can be a lonely place – can MUMHOOD help?

Absolutely. Firstly, through our in-studio classes. We’ve created a lovely off-line community where mums feel comfortable to workout / breast feed and hang out with like-minded others. I’ve seen so many long-term friendships made this way!

Secondly, online, we’ve created closed facebook groups for everyone who joins the programmes so they can discuss what they’re going through with others at exactly the same stage. It’s a place where you can freely ask about the changes in your body without feeling unconfident or embarrassed, as we’re all going through very similar experiences. The long-term plan is to have offline classes in venues around the country, to add a weekly meet-up element to the online programmes. I am a bit old fashioned, but I am a genuine believer in face to face conversations.

As a mother of a toddler I’ve never had less time & haven’t done any ‘exercise’ since my son was born (although I never sit down!) – what would you recommend?

Exercise doesn’t need to be an hour at a gym. If you’re stuck for time, then try to fit simple exercise into your everyday routine, whether walking to nursery instead of driving, taking the stairs, doing 10 minutes of yoga before you go to bed or when you wake up. There are so many amazing resources out there to inspire you if you’re struggling for ideas.

Also start small, if you set yourself an unrealistic target such as ‘I’m going to exercise 5 times this week’ it’s probably not going to happen. Start at ‘two times’ for 20 minutes and increase it from there. Find a friend who will support you and be your exercise buddy, or find a class which you have to book, and will therefore turn up to. Let someone else do the motivating for you! In terms of confidence, if you’re not feeling like working out in a class or in public right now, then think about working out at home. Our Mumhood programmes, or other online programmes will help you to improve your fitness levels which has the added bonus of boosting your confidence, and before you know if you’ll be feeling like a whole new person.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Mumhood is a way to make yourself FEEL great. We are so passionate about how exercise can do this and at this often challenging time of your life, being able to feel good is key. Staying fit and healthy throughout pregnancy and into early motherhood, will mean you a) won’t put on a huge amount of weight, but b) it will gradually fall off in a healthy way, without you having to go on some crazy diet, or get stressed about it.

Most of all Joan and I have been there we understand the challenges and talk regularly to a lot of other women going through the same things, so we really hope that some of our experience can be put to good use in helping others navigate this difficult time. And there’s no such thing as being a perfect mum – we all make mistakes, but it’s about picking ourselves up and moving on, and trying to make better choices next time.

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