By MUTU Mama Kara. Mum of two

My name is Kara. I am a mum to two beautiful children. However, my youngest, Jessica was born sleeping/stillborn when I was 33 weeks pregnant. Jessica’s death was, without a doubt, the hardest thing that I have ever experienced in my life.

Shortly after Jessica died, I was mistaken as pregnant on a few occasions. I know passers-by commented on my postnatal tummy innocently. They had no idea how much I longed for their belief to be true, that my baby girl really was still safely growing in there.

“I knew that I had to learn to accept my body again and take good care of the whole of me, to help me cope emotionally at such a difficult time.” 

I have always taken good care of my body. However, it felt like my body had let me down when Jessica died and I hated it for that. I looked typically postnatal but all I had to show for the months of pregnancy was funeral planning and intense grief. I knew that I had to learn to accept my body again and take good care of the whole of me, to help me cope emotionally at such a difficult time.

Seven weeks after Jessica died, I signed up to MUTU. I was lucky in that I had no leaking or diastasis recti to heal. However, I enjoyed pole fitness before my pregnancy and I wanted to ensure that I had a connected system again before returning to it. I knew to return too soon and before my body had healed could cause long-term damage as pole is a sport that relies so heavily on core strength.

“Emma really helped me to feel physically strong and proud of my body again.”

I met MUTU Pro, Emma Fullwood 3.5 years ago after I had my son. I went to her postnatal classes and I had one to one sessions whereby Emma designed me personalised home workouts, which had really worked for me.

Emma is kind, caring, compassionate, as well as very knowledgeable and passionate about postnatal recovery. Emma kindly offered me a free one to one with her after Jessica died. She was aware that postnatal classes would not have been emotionally easy for me to attend initially.

Emma really helped me to feel physically strong and proud of my body again. Her support has been invaluable to my emotional wellbeing too. Thank you Emma- you’ve helped me more than you know.

My favourite part of MUTU was having a short manageable program, which I could do from home each evening when my eldest was asleep. MUTU slowly builds in intensity to help you progress your recovery at a steady and safe rate. Understanding the theory, helped to change my thinking too. I stopped driving places and started walking everywhere with my son to ensure I achieved the recommended 20 minutes of outdoor walking each day. I also started a weekly postnatal yoga class. Each week I noticed my strength increasing in class.

“I no longer hate my body or see it as a failure.”

I am really pleased with my results, because of how they made me feel more than anything. Initially, losing Jessica made me feel completely broken as a person. However, I was determined that Jessica’s death would not have a negative impact on who I am long term. So I used her tiny life to inspire me and make me achieve things that I may not have done, had I have been mothering her at that time instead. I started campaigning and fundraising for a maternity bereavement suite at my local hospital in Brighton to help other bereaved parents in her memory. In total, I raised £16,000 for Sussex based charity Oscar’s Wish Foundation which was used to buy a delivery bed, furniture, and furnishings for a hospital bereavement suite that recently opened, eight months after her death.

Getting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes made me feel a bit like the old me again. I will never be completely the same person as I was before Jessica died. However, I feel less lost and more in touch with my old values again. I have returned to pole fitness and I generally feel strong in body and mind again. I no longer hate my body or see it as a failure. I now nourish it, just in case I’m blessed enough to become a mother of three one day…

Meet Kara’s MUTU Pro, Emma Fullwood.

I trained Kara after her first pregnancy. I helped her strengthen her body and get her not only fit for purpose but also ready to continue with her love of exercise. After her second pregnancy and birth, Kara contacted me again for postnatal exercise. Despite tragically losing her daughter at birth, Kara knew that she still had to take great care of her postnatal body, it needed recharging, rehabilitation, rest and recovery.

One main thing we have had to work hard on is Kara’s tendency to grip her abdominal muscles throughout her day. This stems from “sucking it in” when doing gymnastics in her childhood. Her passion for Pole fitness also means that her core is engaged a lot of the time. 90% of the mums that come to me are holding tension in their abdominals in a bid to hold it all in and find the “letting go” process really hard.

I believe it’s totally up to the individual how they want to feel. With Kara, I remind her that her body has changed and whilst she wants to remain to look athletic it’s impossible to still look like you did in your 20s after having 2 babies. That doesn’t mean you can’t remain as strong though!

When Kara feels good about her body, when it works as it should and she is enjoying exercise, then she is happy. As long as people aren’t trying to push their bodies too much I believe that feeling great about yourself matters to your everyday confidence and mentality.

For someone who’s never worked with a MUTU Pro before, can you explain how you work with your clients?

Before seeing my clients I send a detailed health form out. Regardless of whether their baby is 6 weeks or 16 years old, I want to know about their body. I also want to know how they feel and how they want to feel, what’s their goal and their timeline for this. I send out some pdf documents that educate them on breath, diastasis recti, pelvic floor or anything else that I think would help them based on the answers to the questions I have asked.

The initial meeting is then more like a mummy MOT. We look at posture, breathing, pelvic floor, and movement patterns, so how they get up from sitting, from the floor, how they lift items, etc. Then it’s about getting them moving better in everyday life, as previously mentioned getting them fit for purpose. I always say that 1 hour a week with me isn’t enough, their recovery is affected by how they lift, carry, push and pull and how they stand and sit in everyday life!

Emma’s personal message to Kara

Words cannot describe what you have been through and I can’t imagine how you felt about your body after losing Jessica. Yet despite your grief, you knew how important your body and mind’s health is to your recovery and wellbeing. You ask questions and you put the work in and that’s why you have such amazing progress. You are an inspiration and should be proud of yourself. Let’s age in health together! X

If you need some support or someone to talk to, you can get in touch with one of these brilliant organizations.

If you’re in the UK, Child Bereavement UK can help.

If you’re in the US, Share can help.

If you are elsewhere in the world, International Stillbirth Alliance can help.