It goes without saying that having a baby is life changing and it is one of the biggest things a woman’s body will go through, so it definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. Not only will you carry your baby inside you for nine months, but you will then have to deliver your baby and start looking after them in a whole different way.
As any new parents will be well aware, babies don’t come with an instruction manual and getting through the first few days, weeks or even months can be hard work. Often, when looking after a new baby, it can be easy to neglect your own health and wellbeing. It is your natural instinct as a parent to focus on your little one’s health and when doing so, many overlook just how essential it is to keep themselves fit and healthy too. We understand that it can feel like there isn’t enough hours in the day to take care of everyone, but we can’t stress how important it is to ensure that you’re not letting your own health deteriorate.
As you may expect, there are many different things that will help you to stay fit and healthy post-pregnancy and we will look into these further below. We have split the following information into three incredibly important categories to make things easier in case you’re searching for something in particular.
For some women, exercise will be the last thing on their mind, especially if they’re feeling exhausted. However, it is important to note that regular exercise postpartum can be incredibly good for you, for numerous different reasons. First of all, it can actually help you to feel more energetic and prevent the sluggish tired feeling you may be experiencing on a regular basis.
As you’re probably aware, it is recommended that you wait until your 6-week postnatal check before you start any form of high-impact exercise, however, there are things you can do before this stage. Simply getting out of the house and walking, or doing some gentle stretching or abdominal and pelvic floor exercises, is usually okay for women to do as soon as they feel up to it after having a straightforward birth. Of course, things will differ if you had a complicated delivery or a caesarean though.
Once you have been given the go-ahead to start exercising properly, it is important to remember that your body will be different from how it was pre-pregnancy and you shouldn’t over do it. It is likely that your muscles will be weaker than they used to be and your ligaments and joints will be more supple/flexible too. Always remember to listen to your body and pace yourself as you start exercising again.
Thankfully, there are lots of post natal exercise classes around these days and also many post natal exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home, so it is incredibly easy to ensure you’re not neglecting your physical fitness. If you’re ever unsure of where to even start in this regard, don’t hesitate to reach out for post natal exercise advice from an experienced trainer.
Another huge part of staying fit and healthy with a new baby is healthy eating. It goes without saying that everything you eat and drink will affect your body and many are unaware just how much of a difference healthy eating can make, and it isn’t only about weight loss either. Of course, if you’re breastfeeding, it is important to remember that the food you eat still affects your baby too.
We understand that it isn’t always easy to prepare home cooked meals full of fresh ingredients, especially if you’re juggling a lot at the moment. So, to keep things as simple as possible try to ensure that you have a balanced diet. Ideally, you should eat a variety of foods every day including; fruit, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and diary. On top of this, try to ensure you’re drinking plenty of water, this has more of an impact on your health than people realise. If you’re looking for recipe ideas you can download our Healthy Eating booklets for free by going here.
There are a few things you can do to make eating healthy much easier when you have a newborn, such as; cooking more than you need and freezing extra portions, using tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables as well as fresh, and also snacking on vegetables that can be eaten raw instead of processed snacks. Of course, if friends or family are wanting to help, don’t turn down their offer of healthy home-cooked meals either, this can save you a lot of time.
You may also find that taking some postnatal vitamins is beneficial as well. There is no denying that your body used a lot of vitamins and minerals during your pregnancy and it is important to replenish your body once you have given birth. The vitamins and minerals you should be taking many differ slightly depending on whether you’re breastfeeding or not, so if you’re ever unsure on what to take, don’t hesitate to ask a medical professional. If you are looking for post-natal vitamins you’ll probably find a good pre-natal will do the job as well. My friends at Consumeradvocate have put together a nice little list here.
Of course, in order to keep fit and healthy, it is absolutely essential that you take care of your mental health too. This is often overlooked, especially when focusing on the other two categories mentioned above, but it is fair to say that mental health may actually be the most important of them all.
You may find that things such as regular exercise can help you to prevent postnatal depression. We did a pod-cast episode on it which you can find here. As you’re probably aware, exercise is known for releasing chemicals called endorphins in the body. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling and can greatly improve your mood. However, exercise can also stimulate the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin too, and all of these chemicals play a part in regulating your mood. So, you may find that post natal exercise classes can really help your mental health when you have a little one.
There are also a few other things you can do to look after your mental health during this time and they are all so easy. Things such as; making time for yourself, trying not to juggle everything on your own, accepting help from friends or family, getting out of the house when you can and opening up to people about your feelings, can all make such a huge difference.
Remember, you’re never alone and if you’re worried about how you’re feeling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help. Whether this is someone at a postnatal group, your midwife, a health visitor or your GP, they will all gladly point you in the right direction or personally provide you with the assistance you need. Never be ashamed to ask for help, as mentioned above, having a baby is a big deal and needing support is completely normal.
Hopefully, the information above will be beneficial to any new mums who are wanting to ensure that they’re keeping fit and healthy once they’ve had their baby. We understand that this can be a lot to take in, but looking after yourself is so important and ultimately, it is vital to do so to enable yourself to look after your baby properly.
If you’re looking for some additional post natal exercise advice or post natal diet advice, please feel free to sign up and get in touch. Here at HPNB, we are incredibly passionate about helping women post-pregnancy to get their health back and feel fitter and stronger than ever before. We have many years of experience working with women both during and after their pregnancies and you can rely on us to provide you with nothing but correct advice.
We believe that women’s post natal health is a right, not a privilege, and this is why we have ensured that our HPNB membership is much more affordable than other post natal programs out there. We aren’t about making as much money as we can, we are about providing an essential health service to as many people as possible.
The HPNB Team
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