Getting back to normal after a pregnancy takes two things: time and patience.
Popular wisdom says that women are back to normal in just 6 weeks. However, the truth is every woman recovers from pregnancy at a different pace. Your rate of recovery can depend on the type of delivery, the difficulty of the birth, your overall health, and other factors.
There is no such thing as a recovery deadline, and everyone will recover on their own time. Your body has been through a massive change over the past nine months, so you need to relax and recover at your pace. Below are some tips to make the transition smoother.
Your body needs to heal properly after pregnancy before you jump back into everyday routines. Delivery can be traumatic for your body and leave you feeling tired and weak. Your stomach muscles have stretched, hormone levels are high, and you may feel aches and pains all over. Getting enough rest is crucial to your healing process.
Although this may seem obvious, it is likely the most difficult one to follow due to the demands that new mothers face. But getting enough rest is essential—you will feel more energized and heal stronger and faster if you do.
Regaining a healthy weight and shape is usually one of the first things most women want after birth. After giving birth, women usually lose a few pounds quickly and a little more as body fluid levels decrease. Additional pregnancy weight should be lost gradually rather than all at once. Gradual weight loss is the safest method, especially if you are breastfeeding. Nursing mothers can lose a safe, moderate amount of weight without affecting their milk supply or their babies’ growth. Beginning with light exercise is a good start.
Keep in mind that high-impact or vigorous exercise should only be undertaken after clearance from your doctor. However, going for walks (even with the baby) is an example of a safe exercise. Exercise will not only help you healthily lose weight but can be a great stress reliever.
3- Focus on good nutrition
Good nutrition is just as important in the months after the birth as it was while pregnant. For women who are breastfeeding, you are still your baby’s primary source of nutrition so keeping a healthy diet is essential. A healthy diet includes the following:
Choosing foods rich in iron, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Here are some examples:
- Good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, peas, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit1.
- For protein, consider eggs and dairy products or plant sources such as soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains1.
- Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include calcium-enriched and -fortified products such as juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu1.
- Seafood can be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, some seafood contains mercury or other contaminants. Exposure to excessive amounts of mercury through breast milk can pose a risk to your baby’s developing nervous system. To limit exposure, avoid seafood that is high in mercury, including swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish1.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are a good source of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
4 – Take time for yourself
In the whirlwind of being a new mother and taking care of a new baby, many women forget to take care of themselves. If possible, set aside 20-30 minutes every day to recharge your battery. To do so, you can
- read a few pages of a good book,
- watch an episode of your favorite TV show, or
- indulge in a bubble bath.
It is important for your mental wellbeing to take a few minutes to relax, physically and mentally. After pregnancy, many women experience the baby blues (becoming emotional and sad while experiencing mood changes). This is normal. Changing hormones cause the strong emotions, and they usually come and go within a few days. Taking time to unwind can be an effective way to combat the baby blues.
If you find yourself highly emotional or even depressed for an extended period of time, consult with your physician.
5 – Vitamins
Most women do not eat a diet sufficient for the needs of both them and their baby. Vitamins and other supplements are a quick and easy way to receive essential nutrients. Especially if breastfeeding, your nutritional demands will increase. When choosing supplements, make sure to choose options that contain quality, non-synthetic ingredients. Nutrients like
- vitamin D, and
will support the development of your baby while fulfilling your nutritional needs.
Returning to normal will take some time, and that is to be expected. Give yourself plenty of time, rest, and sustenance, and your recovery should be smooth. As always, connect with your physician if your recovery feels delayed or difficult. Your physician can give you additional tips and methods to help with your recovery.
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1) Mayo Clinic. Breast-feeding nutrition: Tips for moms. May 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breastfeeding-nutrition/art-20046912?pg=1