Cyclist Laura Kenny: 8 tips for a great pregnancy
The Olympian talks to Ella Walker
Laura Kenny is one incredible woman. She's not only the most successful female cyclist Britain has ever produced, but also the most decorated female British Olympian of all time too, with four gold medals under her belt from team pursuit and omnium wins at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 games.
Now, the 25-year-old and her husband, fellow British cyclist and six-times gold Olympic medallist Jason Kenny (29), are expecting their first baby.
Here, the Harlow-born athlete shares snippets of the ups and downs of her pregnancy, what she's learned along the way, and why she believes it's so important to listen to your body.
1. Tell people about your pregnancy in your own way
"I felt a bit under pressure in terms of me and Jason wanting to announce it," Laura recalls. "We didn't want to read it in a newspaper or have anybody question it before we announced it. But the other part of us was like, 'Ah, we want to keep it as our secret for as long as possible' - because it's one thing you've created. So, we wanted to keep it quiet, but the other part of us wanted to announce our news because it was our news to tell."
2. It takes time to adjust to the changes happening to your body
"I found it quite difficult to start with, in terms of losing my abs and stuff. I've always had a six-pack, that's all I've ever really known. And then, obviously, all of a sudden, it's out of your control. It's not what I'm eating - I could eat no different and still put on weight," says the cyclist. She says that before the pregnancy, "I got little bit self-conscious about people thinking, 'Ah, she's just gone on this break and she's just gone mad!' Once I announced it and once I started to show, I really actually quite enjoyed it. I don't mind it at all really - you can get some lovely clothes now."
3. Work your diet around how you're feeling and what your own body needs
"I know a lot of people that, when they get pregnant, go super-healthy. I wouldn't say I've done that. I'd say I'm eating pretty normally, but a little more often," says Laura. "I'm making sure I'm not getting really hungry at any time because I feel I might have a real sugar loss if I stop eating, and that's when I start to feel a bit rough."
4. No matter how fit and healthy you are, you're still going to feel uncomfortable at times
"I get heartburn really easily during the night. That's been the only side effect I've had that's been a bit of a pain," says Laura. "It'll be two or three o'clock, and I'm laying there, literally in pain. I feel like my chest is on fire. It's awful. So, we figured, if we eat our dinner at half five, then have a bit of yogurt or something before bed, then I don't get it."
5. Eating for two isn't a hard and fast rule
"Part of me feels like that's a bit of a myth. I would definitely say that early on in the pregnancy I was really hungry. I was putting little things next to the bed so that if I woke up in the middle of the might, I could just have something, like Scottish pancakes, something small but filling, because otherwise I was going downstairs for a bowl of cereal, and then I couldn't go back to sleep again. Definitely pre-16 weeks I was eating a lot more, but after that, I went back to normal."
6. And not everyone experiences cravings, so don't feel strange if you haven't had any
"I literally haven't had anything," she says.
7. Even Olympic athletes have to scale back on their training when pregnant
"I don't call it training, I call it exercise," says Laura, explaining how she and her coach have continued to set out structured plans through her pregnancy, the intensity dipping as time goes on. "So I may want to go out and ride my bike for an hour-and-a-half, but I might not actually be able to, so everything's really tailored back."
8. But it's okay to keep exercising for as long as you feel able to
"Maybe with four weeks to go, I might have to stop exercising. Maybe not completely. I'll keep walking the dogs and things like that, or even just going out on the bike," says Laura - but she's unlikely to be speeding round the velodrome by that point. "I've got a hybrid bike. And I've got a bump, so it's not that easy to get into position on a road bike!"
- Laura Kenny is a brand ambassador for Pod Food (www.pod.co.uk)