Did you just have a baby? Congratulations! We are sure the past nine months have flown by. Your body had to adjust slowly to accommodate the growing baby, and now that he has been born it will start to gradually go back to its pre-pregnancy state. We are sure that you are ready to get your body and system back on track, and lucky for you there are some ways to fast track it! It will be a process, and it will take some time. Have patience with yourself and your body. Remember that you are awesome…you just grew another human! Cut yourself some slack. When you are ready, here are fifteen ways to start to get your body and system back on track after having a baby.
Your body just went through labor, otherwise known as the hardest workout ever! The bones in your body actually moved to accommodate the birth of your child. Your muscles are fatigued. You are sore in more ways than one. And now you have a newborn to keep alive on top of it all! Your body needs to rest in order to start the recovery process.
Spend at least the first week or two getting as much rest as possible. Depending on your birth situation, this may need to be much longer than two weeks. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Get help from your partner, friends, and family. Do not worry about home chores during this time. Take the time to shower and care for yourself. You cannot care for your baby if you don't first care for yourself.
This is not the time to watch what you eat. Dieting is not recommended immediately following birth. Your body needs the calories to recuperate. If you are breastfeeding, you will also need around 500 extra calories per day in order to make milk for your baby. Do not stop or reduce your food intake.
However, you can choose healthy foods such as lean proteins and vegetables. Eating healthy will help your body get the fuel it needs to bounce back quickly. Eat small meals and snacks often throughout the day to keep your energy up. Avoid high sugar foods that will cause your energy levels to crash.
Many mothers land themselves back in a hospital bed within a week of giving birth. Why? They are dehydrated. We know it is easy to get caught up with the new baby, but you have to take care of yourself too.
If you are in the hospital, who will take care of that sweet baby? Your body needs extra water to help flush out all of the excess fluids, blood, and tissue from the pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll find that your thirst increases as well. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip on it through the day. Keep it by your bed at night in case you wake up feeling like you are in a desert and haven’t had water in a month (it happens).
Water is essential to your body now more than ever. If you want your system to bounce back, drink even more water than you think you need.
If you can and want to, consider breastfeeding. On top of all of the health benefits for your baby, breastfeeding is great for you too. It will help your uterus shrink back to its original size quickly which means that you’ll have a flat tummy in no time. Breastfeeding also burns a lot of calories so you’ll see the number on the scale go down quicker.
Nursing your newborn is also a great way to bond with her. Bonding is good for the emotional needs of Mommy post pregnancy. It will make your heart feel good which is essential for the recovery of your mind and body. While it may not seem obvious, caring for your emotional health is crucial to bouncing back post pregnancy. Your hormones are on overdrive, and you could become at risk for postpartum depression if you don't take care of yourself. Breastfeeding is one way to help your emotional and physical side at once!
Only you and your doctor know what your delivery was like. You may need more recovery time than the average woman or you may be ready to start a light exercise program within a few weeks. Ask your doctor and heed their advice. If they tell you to wait, please wait. Do not push yourself before you are ready. It isn't worth it.
Once your doctor gives you the okay to return to light physical activity, ramp it up slowly. This isn't a race. Take all the time your body needs. Even a little physical activity will make a huge difference in your body's recovery.
Walking is the first activity you will be ready for postpartum. In fact, oftentimes the doctors will get you up and walking in the hospital not long after you give birth. Take it slow at first. When you are ready to begin a little walking, move slowly and carefully. Your joints have loosened, and they take some time to tighten back up. You don't want to fall and get hurt.
In the weeks after your baby is born, slowly build up your walking distance and speed. Take the baby for a walk too (weather permitting). She will enjoy the fresh air as much as you do. Performing this light activity will help jumpstart your metabolism and burn some extra calories as well as start to rebuild your muscles.
Yoga is a great activity that you can start postpartum (with your doctor’s blessing) to begin to get your body back. Yoga is great for stretching and strengthening muscles. It is also great for relaxation which you may need during these stressful times with a newborn baby. Only take it as far as your body feels comfortable. You do not want to overexert or put too much pressure on your joints.
Don't have a sitter yet? Check your local gyms. Some gyms offer a "Mommy and Me" yoga class for you to enjoy with your baby! Baby will love it.
Kegel exercises are something you can start right away after birth. You may have to wait a few days to regain feeling and control of your pelvic floor muscles, but as soon as you do start your kegels.
Start with sets of ten and aim to do at least three sets of ten three times a day. Your pelvic floor muscles went through a lot during labor so these exercises will help build them back up as well as help you control your bladder. You can't overdo it, so perform as many reps as you feel like (building up slowly over weeks).
There are many benefits to kegels including bladder control, increased sexual pleasure, and recovery post pregnancy. If you did your kegels pre-pregnancy, this will be a lot easier right after delivery.
In addition to kegels, pelvic tilts are a great way to help your recovering pelvic floor and abdominal muscles after birth. This exercise gently moves and stretches your back and tummy muscles. Strengthening these muscles is crucial to your body’s recovery. Most women can do these exercises within a few weeks of giving birth. They will help ease back pain as well. Always check with your doctor first.
To perform a pelvic tilt, lay on your back with your knees up. Gently lift your buttocks off of the ground and tilt your pelvis towards your face. Hold for 5-10 seconds and release. Repeat ten times and work your way up to more.
The months following delivery can be frightening and isolating. Hormones and sleep deprivation can contribute to the Mommy blues or postpartum depression. Healing your mind is just as important as healing your body after having a baby.
Keep your support system close by. Visit with your spouse, your family, and your friends often. Talk about things not baby related. Laugh, get out of the house, and even enjoy a glass of wine. When your mind feels good, your body will also feel good. This is essential to your body’s road to recovery.
It is easy to slip into the yoga pants or pajama habit when you have nowhere to be. You may think there is no point to getting dressed every day when all your baby does is spit up all over you. Getting dressed each and every day will keep your spirits up and make you feel more human.
You can keep on rocking those maternity clothes a little bit longer while your body recovers. Just make sure you get dressed, wash your face and hair, and perhaps throw on a little makeup a couple times a week. It will make you feel better about your postpartum body.
A mother’s network or support group is crucial. They will make you feel normal again. They will assure you that things will get back to the way they used to be. They will be there if you need to cry or vent or take a break. Check with the hospital or OB to find a local group. Breastfeeding support groups are great too.
If nothing else, at least connect with other moms online through forums or Facebook groups. There are a lot of options, and you’ll be glad you did.
Studies have shown that working out alone is the toughest way to maintain a program. It is more fun and you are more likely to succeed if you are working out with another person or in a group setting. Your workout buddy will make the time spent in the gym more enjoyable and add a layer of accountability.
It is a lot harder to skip a workout session if you know someone else is counting on you to be there.
Having a goal to lose all of the weight in two weeks is probably not realistic. A small percentage of women appear to lose it all instantly, but that is a far cry from the norm. It can take months or up to a year to lose all of the weight you gained while pregnant, and that is ok. Set realistic small goals and measure yourself against them at least monthly. If you are not hitting your target, evaluate the reason and readjust.
Don’t become so obsessed with your body that you forget to spend time with that little creature you created. Babies grow up so fast, and you don’t want to miss a thing. Yes, you need to exercise and spend time on yourself, but always remember to enjoy the time with your baby and family. It is good for the soul!
Want to get really creative? Try working out with your baby! Take a babywearing dance class or use your baby in place of your weights. Get out the jogging stroller and head to a local park. Get creative and you can work on your body while spending time with your baby!