With the barrage of before-and-after shots from models, actresses and fitspos whose bodies appear to bounce back from pregnancy, women face pressure to defy natural processes associated with motherhood

Chontel Duncan - Women's Health and Fitness Magazine



According to certified pregnancy and postnatal exercise trainer Dahlas Fletcher, “social media is one of the biggest influences on the psychological mood of [her] clients.”

Fletcher says labour, birth and breastfeeding cause fluctuating hormones and internal damage that takes time to heal. ‘Bouncing back’ post-baby is a misnomer.

“You need a minimum of 12 months to recover post-birth, so use that time to enjoy your newborn and be gentle with yourself,” suggests Fletcher.

“If you are looking to get back into exercise, don’t start until you have had your six- to eight-week check-up with your medical practitioner. Find a safe and effective program that you can build on as your energy levels increase and your body heals.”

Fletcher says she prioritises improving pelvic floor strength, stretching and flexibility, and posture and lower back strength in pregnant and postnatal clients.

In our latest edition, The Baby Body issue, we had a chat to, now mother of son Jeremiah, Chontel Duncan about all things from healthy living and pregnancy.

At the time of the interview Chontel Duncan was one of those 35-weekers who is all belly, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t experienced the stretch marks and psychological hurdles that most expectant mothers face. Straight talking and health orientated, this personal trainer runs her own business in HIIT Australia while sharing her ‘bump updates’, anxieties and pregnancy experiences with her followers.

On healthy living

I have always adopted the mentality that if I respect my body, my body will respect me back. I don’t think we focus enough on our future health and the complications, illnesses, diseases and early death that can result from poor habits. I want to see my children grow up and I want to get the most out of this short life we are given.

On pregnancy

After 25 weeks, I had to alter my training style as my body started to change shape. I stopped many of the movements that put pressure on my body or posture, including lunges, box jumps and almost all core exercises. I paid close attention to the signals my body would send me with particular movements – if it didn’t feel right or I wasn’t feeling the movement in the correct muscle group, I would banish that movement altogether.

From weeks 20 to 25 my pelvis loosened, which made running and lunges uncomfortable. My stomach started growing really fast and I was suddenly worried about how I would mentally cope with losing my abs and inheriting stretch marks. I am very happy to say that it has not bothered me once! I absolutely love my bump, I couldn’t care less if I got stretch marks and I just feel so lucky that I am able to carry my own child.

On post-baby bodies

I am excited about the challenge of transforming my body post-baby, but I’m not going to train to be picture perfect. I run eight-week programs at HIIT Australia, so I plan to adopt this same program post-baby and to document my journey through Instagram posts, Facebook posts and Snap Chat discussions. I plan on adopting an exercise intensity recommended by my doctors – I have always trained smart so as to prevent injury.

Day in the life of Duncan

I am currently 35 weeks pregnant and I am participating in six one-hour HIIT classes per week. I plan on doing lots of walking as I get closer to my due date to replace the HIIT classes. I eat as often as I can and never let myself get hungry.

For more real life pregnancy stories grab a copy of our May edition