By Rebecca Drew
THIS INCREDIBLE twin mum overcame post-natal depression that left her in tears for weeks and unable to leave the house for months and is now competing in fitness competitions and proudly displaying her loose skin and stretchmarks on stage to inspire other new mums to be proud of their post-baby bodies.
Insurance consultant, Shina Pierce (29) from Auckland, New Zealand, got into fitness in 2014, training four to five days a week. Having always dreamt of becoming a mum one day, two years later Shina and her partner, Chris, decided to have children and were shocked to discover they were expecting twins.
Shina experienced some bleeding after her second month of pregnancy so stopped exercising as she was worried she would miscarry. After a difficult labour involving being induced which took four days and a natural birth in December 2016 where she lost a lot of blood and experienced a second-degree tear, Shina welcomed her beautiful daughters, Harper and Nicole into the world.
Like many new mums, Shina had no energy for the first few months and was getting up every hour for her twins throughout the night whilst trying to recover from her tear which made it difficult to move around. Feeling exhausted, she experienced shortness of breath getting down and up off the floor which made her long for her pre-pregnancy body.
For the first few weeks of her daughters’ lives, Shina was tearful and felt as though she couldn’t cope with being a mother due to the lack of sleep. Post-natal depression meant she struggled to leave the house for the first three months following the birth.
Post-pregnancy, Shina weighed 14st 13lb and was a UK size 14 to 16 but after four months she gradually started to get back into fitness by going on walks with her girls in the pushchair and doing quick 15-minute home workouts before going back to the gym a year after giving birth.
Now Shina is back to her pre-pregnancy weight of 9st 8lb and is a UK size 8. She has been entering bikini fitness competitions and posting pictures of her stunning post-pregnancy body embracing her loose skin and stretchmarks in a bid to inspire other mums and show them that they are not alone and shouldn’t feel pressured to snap back into shape.
“Straight after was a bit of a rough time, I did want to get back to my pre-baby body and it was definitely a hard adjustment. Although honestly, I was more concerned about how I was going to get through the sleep deprivation than my body,” she said.
“I had no energy as I was getting up every hour for the first month or two as well as that I had a second-degree tear and I found it hard to just move around or sit down. I spent the first month recovering from the tear and surgery.
“I found I was often puffed out just going on the floor and having mat time with my girls so getting up was a struggle which was really disheartening as I did remember how fit I was before and how a simple body movement like getting from the floor to standing up was never a problem until then.
“My midwife also suggested to go outside and take the girls for a walk just to get out but I was too tired and couldn’t comprehend how to leave the house for the first three months.
“For the first couple or few weeks I’d break down and cry to a point where it was almost every day for a while for a couple of hours. I was so tired, I felt like the worst person in the world because I couldn’t deal with being a mother.
“I do remember saying that, ‘I can’t do this’ not that I didn’t love my babies but more than I was just done in terms of how I just couldn’t handle the lack of sleep, I felt incompetent and that probably explains why I didn’t really want to leave the house for the first three months but I managed in the end.”
Since getting back into fitness, Shina goes to the gym five days a week if she can or works out at home. For breakfast she has oats and peanut butter, an apple and banana for snacks and for lunch and dinner she has a high protein, low carb and low fat meal.
Shina is proud of her post pregnancy body and although she would rather not have loose skin hopes to show other new mums change in the body following pregnancy is normal – she spoke about getting up on stage for the first time since giving birth and shared her words of advice to other mums.
“I’m definitely proud of it [my body] but there are definitely times that I wish that the saggy skin would disappear, I actually don’t care much about the stretch marks at all it’s mostly the loose skin,” she said.
“What I’ve learnt about my first year being a stay at home mum and postpartum, I learnt that the best thing you can try to do is stay positive as cliché as it sounds, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I just wanted to share that so if there were any mums out there or any women out there who were going through the same thing, that it is possible to get over hurdles and that the best thing you can do is to embrace it and be positive about it because if you continue to constantly be like I hate this, I hate that, how are you going to be motivated enough to get stronger or lose weight?
“When all the other mums and fit models were back stage, I was a little self-conscious because most of the girls and mums’ tummies didn’t really look like they had babies at all but I just had to remind myself that I did this for me, I had to remind myself the reason I wanted to go on stage was to prove to myself that I can get out of my comfort zone and that I can do anything I put my mind to.
“People are inspired which is really heart-warming.
“Start with looking at your diet that’s where I started and make a maximum of three small adjustments and try it for a month and see how you feel, if you adjust with this new habit you can slowly add another adjustment.
“It’s all about making small changes that end up going a long way. And if you don’t know what to look for just check the national nutritional guideline or ask for help.”