Parenting 101

Steps towards helping your body recover after childbirth

Introduction

Pregnancy puts a huge strain on your body. This isn’t surprising, of course. In a time span of nine months (give or take), you grow a whole human being inside of you. Your skin stretches, your feet swell, and you go through an endless array of discomforts. The good news is that once you give birth, the nerve-racking part of waiting to meet your child is finally over.

But that’s not to say that this is where the challenge will end with respect to your body as well. It will still need ample time to recover. So do indulge in a little self-care in addition to focussing on the baby. Here are a few steps that will help you feel bright, happy and good in your own skin following childbirth.

Diet

Wellness starts within. So it’s important that your body is getting all of the essential nutrients it needs from a healthy, well-balanced diet perspective. Many people worry about losing the extra pounds that they’ve gained during pregnancy, but this shouldn’t (and probably won’t!) be the top of your priorities.

Your body will shed the pounds eventually, and you will feel comfortable in your skin again. But there’s no need for fad diets. This is even more important if you are breastfeeding your newborn because what you eat is what your baby will get.

Not only that, a new arrival means that you’re going to be run off your feet constantly. So it is important that your food provides you with the highest levels of energy. Spread meals and snacks throughout the day so that you’re never running on empty. Stock your plate up with low glycemic index carbs. These will release energy slowly and evenly, tiding you over in between meals. Allow yourself occasional treats too. You deserve them for sure!

Rest

It is an understatement to say that you will be tired after childbirth. Your body will ache all over and you may have stitches that need time to heal. So, you must put as little strain on yourself as possible. If you had a caesarean section, you must avoid lifting heavy objects.

In the beginning few weeks, try to have someone around to help you at all times – whether this is your partner, a family member or a friend. Sometimes something as small as someone helping you put on your support stockings or holding your baby while you took a quick shower can make the world of difference to your comfort.

Remember to give yourself permission to rest for as long as you need. Take it easy till your body feels strong again. The post childbirth phase is a fragile period. So do take care of your thoughts and your mental well-being as well. Seek help if the baby-blues refuse to abate or turn into dark, self- or baby-harming thoughts.

Exercise

While you were pregnant, exercise would not have been at the top of your priorities. Even bending over to tie your shoes would’ve seemed like a marathon effort as the due date got closer. But now that your body is entirely your own again, you can get back into an exercise regimen slowly. Once your doctor gives a go-ahead, you are free to start your fitness journey again.

Depending on your athleticism prior to pregnancy, you may want to join a gym or start out with a light exercise routine at home. Regardless of what you opt for, taking it easy should be the key when trying to get back in shape after childbirth. You don’t want to throw yourself in the deep end and exhaust (or even injure) yourself in the process. You can lookup effective postnatal workouts, tips and guidelines etc. online for more information best suited to your particular case. Here’s a brilliant full postnatal workout guide on MomsIntoHealth.com which can help you to get the ball rolling.

Time

Celebrity magazines are pressuring new moms into losing their “baby fat” fast as if it is the most normal thing to do after childbirth. Front pages show celebs looking toned and tanned in bikinis just weeks after giving birth. Don’t be fooled. Photoshop can work wonders! Even when it is all natural, you have to remember that these celebs have access to highly trained personal trainers and nutritionists whose sole focus is to get them back in shape in no time. Remember that it took nine months for your body to reach the state that it is at now, so you can’t expect it to go back to its original shape in a matter of days. So, be patient and give your body the grace and time that it needs.

“I believe in a world where mothers are not expected to shed any physical evidence of their child-bearing experience. In that same world I believe there is space for exercise to be as much a gift to your brain as it is your body. I don’t want to waste my time striving for some subjective definition of perfection. I’d rather rebuild my strength while dancing my ass off … literally.”

– Olivia Wilde

In leaving

Caring for a newborn is both exhausting and exhilarating. It leaves you drained and with little time for your own needs. But you must remember that to be a good parent, you have to be healthy, happy and fit (both physically and mentally) yourself. So, do take out some time from your non-stop baby caring days to focus on yourself too, even if it seems selfish in the beginning (It is not!). And before you know it, these crazy, mad, thrilling days of a newborn will soon be over and things would have settled down to a new normal, more or less. And so would have your body.

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