Postpartum health is such a big concern for new moms. You have so much to think about and your body is just recovering from such great feat.
So how can you take care of yourself? Here are some tips on how you can take care of yourself and health after giving birth.
My Postpartum health story
I had my baby when I was 40. I easily got pregnant, had a healthy pregnancy, and healthy birth. All went well, for the most part. But postpartum health was a big concern for me, too.
What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to get my body back in shape and feeling energetic again. I did it, but it took more than a year.
And this should be expected, I had a baby, I was also working and sleep-deprived. I get so mad at those magazine covers with new celebrity moms who have flat tummies only 6 weeks after birth.
One, that’s not natural or normal, and two, they had a ton of help getting there. And they weren’t 40. So I went on my own postpartum health journey and I’m sharing it with you.
Ok. Here are my top secrets to a great postpartum health experience
Most new moms see weight as their biggest issue.
Problem: Weight loss
Solution: Eating well, lifestyle change, long-term
It’s not realistic to expect that you will have the time or energy to lose the baby weight immediately after delivery. The pattern of weight loss after pregnancy varies with each mother. Many factors affect your return to your pre-baby weight. If you were overweight before pregnancy, reaching a more desirable postpartum weight may take additional effort.
If you breast-feed, the calories you use to manufacture milk may help you lose some weight, but you still need to consume more calories than you did before pregnancy. Each woman’s body responds differently, so be patient. It is much more important to get adequate nutrition and calories for breast-feeding than to skimp to lose weight faster.
When breastfeeding, you’re going to have to take in 500 extra calories per day and even higher intake may be recommended for you if you are underweight, exercise vigorously, or breastfeeding more than one infant.
Your weight loss goal should be gradual. With a healthy diet and exercise, much of your weight gain can be shed naturally during your first year postpartum. If you had high pregnancy weight gain or pre-pregnancy weight then your maximum weight loss after birth should be around 4.5lbs per month.
If you consume too little calories:
- You’ll increase your postpartum fatigue
- Your mood will be negatively impacted
- You’ll have a significant decrease in bone mineral density
What is a healthy diet? Skipping Breakfast is NOT an Option
That is if your goal is to boost your metabolism, burn more fats, and enjoy energy throughout the day. I know, I know…it’s not news to you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
It programs your metabolism for the rest of the day.
What I find to be surprising is how many know this yet choose to skip it.
Knowing vs. Doing – the biggest difference between those who get results and those who do not.
Fat Burning Breakfast Checklist
Eat within an hour of waking
Yes, even if you think you are not hungry.
Your body has been fasting while you slept and needs to replenish nutrients lost, to give your body and brain fuel, to kick start your metabolism as well as prevent the desire to binge on high carb foods later in the day.
If you like that having that “hungry” feeling, try drinking a glass of water right when you awake in order to stimulate your digestive system.
Eat a Breakfast that’s focused on Protein & Fat
Choose foods that will get you at least 10 grams of protein (ideally 20 grams) and get a couple of servings of produce in from fruits and/veggies.
For example, 2 eggs will give me 12 grams of protein. I like to add some nitrate-free bacon or turkey sausage along with some sautéed greens for the perfectly balanced breakfast.
Your body needs fat to help absorb your fat-soluble vitamins K, E, A, and D. Fat helps stave off hunger and gives food flavor. Your brain needs fat to stay healthy. It can also help increase your endorphins (happy hormones). If you don’t eat enough fat, your body may crave sugar.
What is a healthy fat?
Foods such as avocados, nuts, nut butter, coconut oil, flax or chia seed oil are all excellent choices. Fish oil supplements are also essential.
Be Aware of Carbs
This is one of the biggest mistake breakfast eaters make ~ filling up on too many processed carbs. Carbs are not nutrient-dense foods and leave you hungry soon after eating them. They can also trigger sugar or more carb cravings. Foods such as muffins, pastries, breakfast bars, and cereals are all empty calories that spike your blood sugar levels. These should be avoided. You want your carbs to come from fruits and veggies, not processed foods.
What does your plate look like?
Problem: common postpartum nutritional problems like constipation, fatigue, and anemia.
Solution: Exercise, water, sleep
Constipation is a common and unpleasant post-partum complaint. Here are some things you can do to help that.
- Get some form of daily exercises, such as walking.
- Make sure you have adequate dietary fiber. Lots of fruits and vegetables are good fiber choices.
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water. And more when breastfeeding.
- Start your day with warm lemon water.
Dealing With Fatigue
I find the best way to help fatigue is eating protein and fat at every meal. Although a good diet will help, there is nothing like 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. Most new moms can’t get that many hours continuously, so take naps or just rest whenever possible. You’re going to have to let go of the notion that your laundry will be done and your house cleaned as it may have been previously. Your sleep is more important and if you don’t get enough sleep you run the risk of catching colds, flues or even worse, adrenal fatigue.
What are some ways to improve your sleep?
1. Eat well
2. Dinner between 5-7pm
3. Move your body every day
4. No caffeine after 11 am
5. Bedtime rituals
6. No TV 1 hour before bed
7. Natural sleep aids like melatonin (not with Thyroid meds) or homeopathic calming pills
What are good sources of iron?
Egg yolks can be an excellent source of iron, so eat the whole egg. Make sure your diet is filled with leafy green veggies like spinach and lean meats. You may need to take an iron supplement if you are anemic. I like USANAs Pre-natal for that. You need to be careful as iron supplements can cause constipation.
Problem: No time to cook
Solution: Keep it simple
Take a creative approach to nutrition, choosing foods that require little or no preparation. Plan and prep meals one day a week. When you take time to plan and prep, you set yourself up for the rest of the week. Raw veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, and cheese are all quick and easy foods to keep on hand. Meats can be baked or broiled along with steamed veggies to make a complete meal.
The new box meal delivery services are great options that didn’t exist when I had my baby. We’ve tried several companies and have liked many of them. You can try a variety to find out which one works best with your family needs.