Pregnancy Recovery and Kiteboarding

My wife says, “Kiteboarding is the best workout that she’s done to recover from giving birth.

She’s tried all kinds of workouts and for some reason she keeps saying that kiteboarding is hitting all the zones that get weak while carrying a baby for 9 months. 
Every time she gets off the water she says it!!  Not only does her body feel worked from head to toe but she’s always in such great spirits after a session.   So, I decided to ask her a few questions in order to share her experience.  This is for any of the moms or soon to be moms out there who are looking for something to help recovery.

Dre:  You used to kitesurf before giving birth.  How long before your due date did you stop and why?

Shannon: Though I do think I could have kited for a few weeks longer, I stopped around 16 weeks of my pregnancy. I went back and forth wondering if I should just keep going, but, deep down, my gut was telling me it’s time to stop. It wasn’t worth the risk to me so, though it was really tough, I gave it up and just had to find other ways of keeping active and enjoying the water. 

Dre:  How did you stay active pre-child birth with kiteboarding out of your routine?

Shannon:  My favorite thing to do was to go swimming and snorkeling. Living on the Caribbean island of Antigua, I had the privilege of doing this. However, later on in my pregnancy I flew to Toronto, Canada to give birth. Being in a huge concrete jungle was much different than soaking up the ocean vibes of an island. I had to find other ways to stay active, so I just walked as much as I could. Obviously, when you are pregnant you get out of breath much faster and you shouldn’t overexert yourself.  In the last weeks, I was happy if I could get 20-30 minutes of walking in a day.  I would take my sister’s dogs for a walk around the block or a quick walk to the park. Outdoors for me was key!

Dre:  What did you miss the most about not being able to kite?

Shannon:  The things I missed most about not being able to kitesurf was the freedom of being out on the ocean all alone and the feeling of my body getting worked!  I love how my body feels when I am done a session.

Dre:  Do you think your active lifestyle before giving birth helped in any way?

 Shannon:  Most definitely. I think that being active helped me to recover both physically and mentally. I think that being physically fit prior to pregnancy helped me get back into shape a lot faster than if I wasn’t physically fit.  So for me it’s always important to live an active lifestyle.  There is definitely such thing as ‘muscle memory’ and truly think your body heals faster if you are fit and active. There is no doubt that your body changes after growing a human inside of it and we, as women, should be so proud of what our bodies have been through. I know that my body is different after pregnancy and I am very fine with that, but thanks to kitesurfing, I truly feel much better about myself and feel like I am physically in shape again.
 Mentally, I think being active really helped me recover because I had something to look forward to when I was all healed up. I couldn’t wait to get back out on the water to go kitesurfing, surfing, free-diving etc. I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about getting back out there.

Dre:  How has kiteboarding helped you regain your fitness?

Shannon:  Kiteboarding is one of the best workouts ever. I find that it targets my core and legs, but honestly, it’s a full body workout.  After being pregnant my ab muscles were completely separated and my core was pretty much nonexistent.  Being able to kitesurf has really allowed my core to strengthen very fast.   I did have a C-section, so I had to be very careful in the beginning not to over work and over do it. ‘Mowing the lawn’ was my go to for a few months before feeling comfortable enough to push my body.

Dre:  Yes, having a C-section normally means much longer recovery times than a normal birth.   How was your experience with that?   

Shannon:  Having a C-section was definitely tough, physically AND mentally. In the previous question, I mentioned how excited I was about getting back on the water and was grateful about having something to look forward to. Though this was a good thing, it also made it extremely hard while recovering from such an intrusive surgery. Looking at the forecast, feeling the wind blow, seeing the waves come and go but not being able to get out on the water actually felt like torture haha. Having said that, I knew that if I didn’t take my time and heal properly there could be serious complications. I mean, my abdomen was basically torn apart during pregnancy and then during the C-section the muscles were sliced open though several layers. I knew I needed time. It was just a little hard when you waited so patiently to get back out there and then you are told “no exercise or vigorous activity for at least 6 weeks!” My advice would be to definitely take your time and just wait until the time is right. There is no rush. There will always be windy days and good waves in the future, so be patient.

Dre:  When was your first kitesurfing session and was it worth the wait?

Shannon:  I can’t remember exactly how long I waited but it was around 4 months after the C-section. I tried to really listen to my body and it just felt like the time was right. As I mentioned above, a C-section is a seriously invasive surgery and kitesurfing is such a core, ab workout. I really wanted to make sure I was properly healed before engaging those muscles. It was so worth the wait. Not going to lie, I felt like a mega kook at first. I forgot how to rig up and was shaking like I had never kited before. haha but once I put my feet on a Tona board and actually got out on the water with my Stratus Kite everything came back and it felt amazing. It felt like I was just let out of jail and back to freedom!

Dre:  During recovery,  what was the most challenging?

Shannon:  Hands down- not being able to kitesurf, surf and exercise. It is just not in my nature to sit around and ‘do nothing’, but in reality, that’s what I had to do in order to recover. It was difficult but I had to train my mind that it was okay to ‘do nothing’ and the day WILL come when I can get back out there. Luckily, I had my little bundle of joy, Leo, to keep me VERY preoccupied so the time flew!

Dre:  What would you say to someone who is pregnant or just gave birth and are recovering??

Shannon: Focus on keeping your baby safe during pregnancy. Personally, I don’t think pushing it and going kitesurfing with a huge belly is worth the risk. You just never know what could happen. But also, listen to your body and if it feels right then go for it! Everyone is different and everyone is at different skill levels. I guess you could say I just wasn’t confident enough in myself to go kitesurfing once I started “showing”. When recovering, take the time. Enjoy “doing nothing” and being with your new born. Don’t get too caught up on getting out on the water. Your baby will grow so fast and you’ll be wishing you had that time back. Enjoy the recovery with your baby. Oh, and remember that you have MANY hours logged just sitting on the beach while your partner got to have all the fun during pregnancy and recovery. It’s his turn to sit on the beach with baby so you can get out and shred as much as you possible (Thanks Dre 😛 )!

Dre:  That’s what dad’s are for!  🙂   Thanks for spilling the beans about using kiteboarding as a recovery tool for pregnancy. 

For more on Shannon and Andre you can follow them on
Instagram:  @shannonator1 and @andrephillip
Feel free to ask them about pregnancy, kiting or their adventures.