‘I remember watching Sex in the City and in one of the films Charlotte's pregnant - she's running. And that was so going to be me. Or even better, you see athletes still going and I was like, “I can do that”,’ says Sarah Tarleton before pausing. ‘And that was
For all women, pregnancy – no matter how much you read, consume or pray for it – will at some point come as a shock to your body. But model Sarah couldn’t have contemplated how different the nine months of her first journey into motherhood would be to her previous life.
Speaking today at 36 weeks pregnant, Sarah now has her hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting) under control of medication. It’s a condition that driven her right to the edge and has been debilitating in a way she never expected.
‘It's just been from about six weeks pregnant, non-stop with a little break [of about a month] in the middle,’ says Sarah. ‘Sick the whole way through or really nauseous or the certain thought of food… It’s hard to explain, unless you've had it. I think because it's not a very well researched and they're still learning about it… there are a portion of women that are like, “Just get on with it. It's fine.” And actually, you can't get on - it's quite debilitating.’
For Sarah, the effect on her body and what she could do and how she could move was a real journey of discovery.
‘I think it was quite hard as well for me to get my head round,’ she says. ‘The industry is very different now, but when I started, 10 years ago, there wasn't any kind of flexibility in how you looked. It was, “You have to be their size and this shape and this weight.” So I've always exercised quite rigorously - I never wanted to change how I ate, so I would just exercise. So that's always been my lifestyle.
And then my partner, Jim is really into exercise as well. And it was quite like part of our routine. And then suddenly, I’m going from, you know, a heavy HIIT class two or three times a week and running and all this stuff… to just nothing.’
For Sarah, that change in lifestyle affected her deeply – as part of her identity for as long as she could remember. ‘I actually love moving and just love sport,’ she says. ‘I come from a family of athletes - my dad played rugby for England up to under 21s, there's always sport on in the house. I always loved to move and get involved. I think for some people it's part of your lifestyle, so I don't think I would ever just stop.’
She did for a while though, have to press pause and try to find what could work with her new body. Though it was a case of trial and error.
Listening to your body, Sarah realised throughout this journey, is key. ‘Because some days, actually don't go out, put Netflix on, eat a meal that you like - some days, it's not worth pushing yourself. But some days it is. And those are the days when it's good to say, “Ok I’ll meet a friend that’s maybe around the corner, or you and your partner can just go for a walk. It's good for the soul and the mind to see that your body can do it sometimes.’
It can be hit and miss – as Sarah remembers from one ill-fated attempt: ‘I was so desperate with hyperemesis and I was trying anything, and I had read that someone said that really light jogging helped if you were nauseous rather than vomiting,’ she says. ‘I would not recommend this… I got home and nearly fainted on the couch. Jim was like, “No more, no more running, just sit and watch telly for a bit.” So we had about six weeks where I just I put my feet up and then eased back into slow movement.’
That slow movement was Pilates – a new discovery Sarah says has given her some strength back. ‘If it was more of a good day I would exercise,’ she says. ‘But there were days where I thought “I'm on the edge here, this might help me to busy myself and move and get the endorphins going and see if that will help me feel a bit better.”
‘I think it has strengthened my body in different ways,’ she adds. ‘And it's really helped me keep working as well. I enjoy going to work. And that's been a really nice surprise to not have to change how I work so much. I feel confident that I can just keep going.
‘I feel like I've kind of built up a bit more for strength and resistance. I'm feeling good about myself. And I'm feeling like I can do this.’
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