Being a new mother is a wild ride! Adding a new baby to your family is super-exciting. But, you also may feel like your body is a bit wrecked from the experience. You may feel a mix of emotions you didn’t really expect, too. Be kind to yourself! Your health is not just important to you—it’s important to your family, too. Here are 10 things you can do to promote good health, in your first 6-8 weeks postpartum, from Jessica Cohen, Baby Boot Camp owner, ACE certified fitness instructor, and licensed Core9 Birth Recovery provider.
- Practice good posture: So much of what you do in your first weeks postpartum— nursing, bottle-feeding, picking up, holding and putting down your baby—pulls your shoulders and back forward. This can lead to back pain… not to mention a hunched-over appearance. Some scapula squeezes will help pull your shoulders back and to stretch across your chest. Try not to flare out your ribs though. You can set an alarm or timer on your phone to remind you to do them several times each day.
- Plan healthy food options: When meal planning, look for simple, healthy ingredients that make great leftovers.
- Make healthy snacks easy: Try putting a fruit bowl at eye-level in the fridge, so you see that and reach for something healthy rather than something unhealthy like a candy bar. It’s also really helpful to plan some healthy snacks you can eat with one hand (since the other one may be busy holding your precious little one).
- Focus on incorporating healthy foods: Instead of thinking about what you’re missing out on, try to focus on the healthy foods you’re going to eat that day. For example, you could say to yourself, “Today I’ll eat [some amount] of fruits and veggies”.
- Expect wild emotions: One minute you may feel over-joyed and the next you may feel overwhelmed and alone. You are not alone in what you’re feeling—all new moms go through some tough times and emotions!
- Find support: Consider joining a Mommy & Me. This will get you out of the house, and it will give you an opportunity to connect with other new moms who are going through similar challenges.
- Avoid actual exercise: A lot of women feel a lot of pressure to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body right after having a baby, but it’s important to wait until after your first 6 or 8 weeks postpartum (depending on whether you delivered vaginally or by c-section). You can’t see it but you have a hole in your uterus where the placenta was attached—try to give your body a chance to heal. If you’re still feeling ambitious, try some simple movements like a Cat-Cow or Child’s Pose.
- Be gentle with your joints: A hormone called Relaxin, which is produced to help your body deliver a baby, has also loosened your joints. This leaves you with weaker hips, knees and wrists that are more prone to injury than they usually would be.
- Make a little time for yourself: See if your significant other, a family member, a close friend or a caregiver can take a couple of hours with your baby once or twice a week, so you can have a few minutes to get a coffee, get out of the house, take a nap or go for a walk. It’s really helpful to get to feel like your own person, at least for a few minutes!
- Hydrate: Especially if you’re breastfeeding, don’t forget to hydrate!
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If you’re interested in hearing Jessica’s tips, straight from her mouth, check out our VIDEO INTERVIEW that I used to put together this article (I trimmed it down to 5 minutes). Big disclaimer: This video is only for those with a sense of humor, an appreciation for mompreneurship or kids. Both of us have our toddlers with us (and my dog is home), so there’s barking, screaming, counting, and laughing. Maybe I should have included a “deleted scenes” video so we could poke fun at the chaos of trying to work and parent at the same time… like when Jessica’s daughter dove into her lap while my daughter did a somersault between our chairs, as we tried to keep the interview going.
Thanks so much to Jessica for meeting with me to share these tips. Click here if you’re interested in more info on Baby Boot Camp with Jessica or Core9 Birth Recovery Program. If you’d like to see more from Mama Lovejoy, you can follow my blog by “liking” my Facebook page. You can follow @MamaLovejoy1 on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr, check out www.mamalovejoy.com.