Here at LIVELY, we believe in celebrating our badass mamas, all day everyday. Whether you’re working in an office, raising a family, running a business, or becoming a mom for the first time - we know that mamahood is no small thing. That’s why we put so much value and care into our maternity styles - so that our badass mamas can feel good, supported, and empowered while feeding baby and doing everything else. Carolina Gunnarsson is an incredible mom, Founder of Fit Pregnancy Club, fitness guru, and overall power babe. We asked her to give us the secrets to conquering it all while being the mother to three beautiful children.
Tell us about your family! What are you kid’s names and what are they like?
I have a daughter, Annalisa, who is six but going on 13, with lots of energy and spunk. She wants to be a “pet saloner” when she grows up. Gustav is the middle child, he is four and currently full of mischievousness. He makes us all laugh but also loves so hard! My baby is Ragnar. He is 18 months and just so incredibly delicious. The perk of having two older siblings is that he is already speaking in full sentences and it’s non-stop. Also, if given a soccer ball, he will not stop to engage in anything else.
What was your first breastfeeding experience like? Is there a secret to making it easier?
As a first time mom with Annalisa, I found breastfeeding beyond challenging. I was really young and no one had told me that nursing would be a serious commitment and hard work. I just assumed that it was something that would come naturally and flow seamlessly (no pun intended). I stuck it out for almost three months until I realized that it was completely running my life and as soon as I made the switch to formula, I was a much happier mom. My experience with my boys were so different and more like what I had pictured would happen with my first. I understood that the secret to making it easier is to not be too hard on yourself, hydrate, and spend a lot of time with your baby. Luckily, when Ragnar came along I had already launched FPC so I brought him with me pretty much everywhere for the first year and being able to nurse on demand makes all the difference to your milk supply and sanity.
As the founder of Fit Pregnancy Club, how would you advise mamas to stay fit during and after pregnancy?
I started FPC out of a personal need because I am that type-A woman who loves challenging fitness classes, but when I was pregnant, I couldn’t find that perfect class that challenged me and also made sure my baby and I were safe. I was extremely nauseous early on in my pregnancies and found it hard to workout and I just tried to stay active by walking and squeezing in 20 minutes of whatever I could here and there. Luckily for all the pregnant and new moms out there we now have an online studio with workouts that range from 10-45 minutes and for all the different stages of motherhood.
Did you always want to be a founder and/or working mom? Who was your example for doing it well?
I don’t think it’s realistic for anyone to set that goal for themselves. I have always been entrepreneurial, but I sometimes wish I didn’t always come up with these new ideas and then have to act on them. When I realized that in 2016 there wasn’t a workout that was specifically designed for a pregnant and postpartum woman, I was frankly appalled and then came to the realization that I had to do something about it (while two kids were hanging of my pant legs!) It certainly wasn’t the best timing, but someone had to do it. Luckily, I met Michelle, the founder of LIVELY, at the end of 2016. She was sitting on her computer, balanced on her hugely pregnant belly, at the Mercer street holiday pop-up shop and she proved to me that it was really possible to launch a new business with a toddler at home and while being pregnant. Another woman who continues to inspire me is my BFF, Robin Berzin. She is the founder of Parsley Health, and she has proven to me that it is possible to be a mother while also raising insane amounts of VC money and sometimes missing your kid’s milestones because you are out there trying to make a change in the world. I would not be where I am today without Michelle and Robin for sure!
How do you find a moment for yourself during the day? What does it look like?
My workout is my time. It’s usually after the kids have been dropped off at school and if I’m in the city, I can either go to Soulcycle, FPC or SLT for a class. If I’m upstate at my house, I’ll just go down to the basement where I do stair-climber intervals for 30 minutes and an FPC postpartum express class online.
What’s one thing about being a mother you wish you would have known before pregnancy?
That every phase is temporary.
Any first time mama hacks you can share?
Accept all the help that is offered to you. Motherhood is not a solo gig and the more people you are surrounded by the easier parenting will be.
There’s no such thing as perfect. How do you maintain balance in your life?
I am in no position to speak on balance. My work is really all encompassing, but I do try to take one day a week to put my phone away and spend real quality time with my family. Also doing things just for myself, like working or riding my horse, brings a huge amount of balance back to my life.
What is your advice to women that want to start their own business, but have no idea how?
If you try to figure out every possible scenario before you open your business, you will never be able to get started. You will learn as you go and you will most definitely screw up, but hopefully just not too much.
Tell us about your experience in our new No-Wire Maternity Bra! How about the bodysuit or the bralette?
It has really been pretty life changing. With my first two kids I had to live with really unsexy, ill-fitting nursing bras. When I discovered LIVELY’s maternity bras they actually hugely influenced my decision to keep nursing past a year with Ragnar. The maternity bodysuit was probably my most worn item during my nursing journey because it enabled me to wear all my normal clothes (think crewnecks that I could just lift up and I didn’t have to worry about having my whole belly “hang out”).