How to Recover from that Post-Baby Body
By: Brooke Chaplan
After growing and carrying a baby for nine months and then delivering that baby into the world, you may wonder if your mind, body, and life will ever be the same. The short answer is “no”. Babies forever change you, and some aspects of your life will never be the same. You have a new person to care for, worry about, and love. Regardless of if you had a vaginal birth or a C-section, your body performed tremendous feats and though your life will never be the same, it can be even better. Give it time, care, and effort.
Set Realistic Goals
Getting back to that pre-baby body may be laying heavy on your post-baby mind, and this is ok, but be realistic. You just gave birth, and recovery takes time. Exercise is a vitally important component to recovery. Set small goals to begin with, and as you are successful, you can set more challenging and difficult goals. Keep in mind that you don’t know how tired you will be after birth, and how you will adjust to a new baby. You want to aim to set goals that are both challenging and attainable with your new lifestyle.
Six weeks is the estimated recovery time before doctors recommend any significant level of physical activity. If you had a C-section or experienced a traumatic birth, the recovery time may be significantly longer. Even though it may be tempting to do more if you are feeling well, resist the urge. You could cause damage to your healing body or more pain, thus lengthening the process. There are many factors determining how quickly and with what intensity you should begin exercise, such as physical shape before and during pregnancy, weight gain, and difficulty of labor. Talk to your medical provider to determine what is appropriate. Once given the go ahead from your doctor, exercise is essential to recovery. Start slow and work up to where you want to be. You will likely be more sore and fatigued than you expect. If you feel more comfortable in the privacy of your own home starting out, consider getting an exercise DVD.
A nutrient rich diet is so important for new moms and babies (especially if you are breastfeeding). Immediately after delivery, grabbing all the low fat food is not necessarily the way to go. You will be hungry, so snacking is almost inevitable. Try to have lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nutrient rich snacks on hand. Avoid processed foods as much as possible. Instead eat things like almonds, yogurt, and cheese. Avoid high amounts of caffeine and sugar. These things may give you a quick boost, but they wear off leaving you tired and sluggish. The right diet choices will help your body recover and make you feel better too.
Develop a Support Team
Support teams look different for each new mom. It is up to you to decide who and what you need. Many women like joining a fitness class, walking group, or mommy and me yoga class for motivation, socialization, and accountability. Some seek dietary advice from a doctor or dietitian, and others may seek out the services of a plastic surgeon to help them recover and feel more confident. Talk to your partner about what you need from them as well. Whatever you choose to do so, surround yourself with people that will support and encourage you.
Recovering post-baby and reclaiming your body is a noble goal, but it is important to remember to put everything in perspective. Be patient with yourself and be prepared to move in baby steps if need be. Remember that just as pregnancy and delivery are unique to each woman, so is recovery. Pregnancy puts your body through intense changes, both external and internal, so listen to it and recover at a pace that is safe and comfortable for you.