As a new mum (or any kind of mum) it’s so important to energise yourself with nutritious food and an active lifestyle incorporating self care but it’s often the hardest thing to achieve.
Your life has changed dramatically and suddenly you are responsible for another human life – a pretty helpless and needy one!
A severe lack of sleep night after night can lead to extreme exhaustion which combined with hormonal changes can lead to food cravings for sugar and processed carbs.
For your own health and the health of your bub though, your body and your baby require a steady supply of vitamins and minerals to recover and fuel you through the busy months (and years) ahead.
So here are some tips for keeping on top of YOUR health so you can be the mummy your bub needs you to be.
- Hydration – drink plenty of good quality water. Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks aren’t great choices. (If you are deeply attached to your caffeine hit, try to enjoy it in the morning in a relaxed setting). Breastfeeding is thirsty work. As well as plenty of water include raspberry and nettle tea to aid your recovery and aid lactation.
- Attempt to eat with 2 free hands. I deeply believe in close contact with your bub but where possible eating while not holding your bub is preferable. The first few weeks and months can be so engulfing but being present and mindful when eating will help your health and digestion.
- Make a wholesome brekkie a priority to the start the day well. Avoid sugary, processed cereals and opt for organic eggs, sautéed kale and spinach, wild mushrooms, nitrate free bacon and avocado. If you’re rushing to get out of the door a wholesome shake can be a great quick option. You can include things like leafy greens, berries, fruit, chia seeds, flaxseeds, maca root or whatever tastes great and makes you feel great too.
- For lunch and dinner choose foods like GREENS, GREENS, GREENS, sweet potato, organic chicken, wild caught salmon, vegetables and seaweed. If grains work for your body go for quinoa, brown rice, oats, amaranth and millet or buckwheat. Eat lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed, chia seeds and olive oil (unheated). Bone broth (chick, lamb, beef) is so nutritious and healing for the gut. Make your own. Use herbs and spices like cumin cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint and fennel seeds. Activated or raw nuts and seeds are great for snacks as are berries.
- When breastfeeding the following foods are best to avoid: dairy, citrus fruits, peanuts, spicy foods, beef, raw garlic and onion, soy products, wheat/gluten and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
- Fitness – Often new mums want to lose the baby weight quickly but being a new mum is a time to rest, recover and to nurture yourself and the new person in your life. My advice would be to have your midwife, doctor or women’s health physio check you for abdominal separation and/or pelvic floor weakness. Your core muscles will need to be strengthened after the pregnancy and birth so physio Pilates can be very beneficial.
- Walking is the best way to get moving in the early days after having a baby. Ensure your wrists are in line with your hands when pushing a pram or use a baby carrier that distributes the weight evenly you’re your hips to prevent injuries. Running should only be introduced at 4 months post partum if no pelvic floor weakness is present.
- Finally, while your whole life has changed and you are totally consumed by your new angel, don’t forget to make time to care for yourself as well. YOU are a top priority too. Remember, your baby will do well if you are doing well.
Becoming a mum for the first time means so many things. There’s stepping into a new role, the delight of meeting your new bub, the full realization that someone is fully dependent on YOU for their every need, the exhaustion and the guilt! No matter what choice you make as a mother no one tells you about the guilt you will feel for that choice and I’m pretty sure it continues throughout your child’s life!
Then there is the recovery of your body. There may be a traumatic birth to heal from, hormones raging, possible breastfeeding discomfort and many, many sleepless nights. The recovery time can vary greatly between women but even with a smooth pregnancy and birth, we all need to consider that many changes take place during the time we grow our baby.
Our alignment and the way we walk changes to accommodate our growing tummy. Adjusting to our growing baby the ligaments of the deep pelvic joints can become compressed and strained resulting in back pain. Weight distribution changes over our feet as well and this can cause cramping and pain in the feet with resulting fascia thickening.
Following the birth we may experience abdominal separation and pelvic floor weakness and as our lifestyle changes to sitting breastfeeding, pushing a pram or carrying a growing baby, little niggles in our wrists, necks or knees can become more problematic.
Now with a new human to care for and all these body changes to contend with, we realise we should lose the extra weight from the pregnancy or get our former strength & fitness back………getting back into exercise can be an extremely daunting prospect!
There are SO many exercise choices these days, which is great, but for a new mum it is so important to find a training program that will be the right fit for what is going on in life. If you have someone to care for your child, the choice might be easier but if you need to take your bub with you, the options are reduced slightly.
There are still many facilities that offer a crèche service and depending on your goals you could find physio Pilates, Pilates studios, yoga, and gyms. Then there are the smaller indoor and outdoor training groups that cater to mums by sometimes offering a nanny service.
Any of these is a great option but mums need to know that THEY are the only expert when it comes to their post-natal body. Doctors and physios can tell what they can see but only YOU can feel what exercise is like for your body.
You may feel just like before and have a smooth transition back into your former exercise regime or you may have to accommodate the changes and adapt your training accordingly. Both of these scenarios are fine – don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t rush the process!
Feeling pressure from other mums is an easy trap to fall into but this is a time when going at your own pace will have a better result in the long run.
I suggest clients use the first 4 months after the birth to work on pelvic floor, core and low impact exercises. Most trainers and instructors experienced with post-natal training will be able to adjust exercises to suit their clients regaining strength and fitness after giving birth. If you have any concerns with performing a set exercise let your trainer know. Staying silent serves no purpose and you need to look after your body.
Some clients find this frustrating and just want to exercise like before baby but I have experienced in my own training and witnessed others go through the same frustration when they go too hard too early and end up doing damage. It’s just not worth it. You can still enjoy challenging workouts and feel fabulous but these first four months are especially important. Listen to your body. You are the expert!
Mums bodies are different. They are not better or worse but they have created a life and changes have occurred. Exercising with these differences in mind will result in a strong and healthy mum!
Dreading your workouts will not incentivize you to keep going. Moving should be fun so find a workout that suits your lifestyle, makes you look forward to going and makes you feel great afterwards!
It takes time and effort to take care of your body. It’s incredibly important to find time to exercise because the benefits of exercise are too important to ignore.
Yet most of us are too busy to even make time for what we WANT to do, let alone find time to create new, healthy habits. It’s not exactly relaxing to start a new exercise routine when you’re already exhausted from work.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to fit exercise in without having to go to the gym every single day. Doing the same thing day in and day out can get boring, and habits we find boring aren’t habits we’re likely to keep up forever.
Here are six great ways to sneak exercise into your daily routine. Each tip is tested for sustainability, and will make exercise a lot more fun than those one-size-fits-all routines you’ve probably tried in the past.
1. Rethink your seating. At your workplace, do you sit in a normal office chair? If so, consider shifting to a standing desk, which exercises your leg muscles much more actively than if you sit passively. Even sitting on an exercise ball forces your core muscles to activate, helping your body exercise to keep stable. It may not seem like much, but those efforts stack up to greater muscular strength over time.
2. Rethink your commute. If you’re in a position where you can walk or bike to work, that can be a start to your day that’s both active and relaxing. You’ll walk into the office centered from the movement and time spent listening to your own thoughts. Even doing exercises based around sitting can add up. Some shoulder flexion action during the morning traffic jam can go a long way toward preventing stiffness and tightness in the body.
3. Do what you’re a fan of. Love watching Dancing With The Stars? Take up ballroom dancing or even Zumba. Like watching sports? Try a few drills that the players are doing next time you’re at the park. By building upon what you already love, you’re setting the stage to have a lot more fun than doing exercise you “have” to do.
4. Recruit your friends. Ever hear the saying, “The more, the merrier?” It applies to fitness, too! Grab a friend or two for a hike, jog, bike ride, or leisurely stroll. You’ll find that the time flies – and you might even find yourself looking forward to your next excursion!
5. Don’t punish yourself for low activity. The body adapts to activity levels, but it also loves resting. Even if you just stretch your body during commercial breaks, keeping your body from growing sedentary is a very good thing. So keep it going to see benefits! You’ll never regret exercising, even if it feels like “not enough.”
6. Join a competition. Do you consider yourself to be a competitive person? Then joining a competition could be the perfect option for you! Even if you don’t have the skills to compete in a league for your activity of choice, you can still challenge your friends or yourself to up your game.
How do you make sure you get enough exercise? How do you make your exercise work in your routine? Share your experience in the comments!