Do I need to exercise in the first few weeks?
Yes. Although exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do as a new mom, it does have benefits.
Gentle core exercises and pelvic floor exercises are all it takes to help your body recover at this stage. Exercise can:
Boost your mood by increasing the levels (endorphins) in your brain.
Help you to lose any weight you gained during pregnancy, if you eat sensibly.
Protect you from aches and pains.
Boost your energy levels.
Improve your strength and stamina, which will make looking after your newborn easier.
What exercises should I start with?
The most important exercises in the first few days after birth and the following year are your pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles may prevent stress incontinence after giving birth and developing later in life as urine tends to leak most when you cough, laugh, or exercise (like jump or run). Start doing them as soon as you can. Try to incorporate these exercises (kegel) into your daily life, continuing the exercises you did while you were pregnant. It'll benefit you in the long term, and through any further pregnancies. If you struggled to remember your exercises during pregnancy, try not to worry, as it's never too late to start.
How to do Kegel exercises
To get started:
- Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you've got the right muscles. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
- Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
In the first few days or weeks, it's normal to feel as if nothing is happening when you do your pelvic floor exercises. Keep going, as the feeling in your pelvic floor will return and it will be working even if you can't feel it. In the meantime, your perineum or pelvic floor may feel uncomfortable, swollen or very heavy.
As soon as you feel up to it, try to get out and about, ideally walking while pushing your baby in his stroller. Start with short walks of about 10 minutes, building to 20 and more… For your 6-weeks checkup with your care provider you will examine the good condition of your pelvic floor and diastasis. It is very common that women experience a separation of the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominals — aka the six-pack muscles. If it is severe enough, you may need to work with a physical therapist to help draw the muscles back together. So, when easing back to an abdominal workout, be mindful not to overdo it. In your core exercises focus more on plank pose and variations of plank instead of old fashion crunches. It is also advised not to do extremely deep twisting poses which can also inhibit the muscles from repair.
Please see the video below for some great exercise ideas:
Post-natal nutrition is important for new moms. Your body is recovering from childbirth and needs a steady supply of vitamins and minerals to heal. What's more, with a new baby in the house, you're undoubtedly fatigued, and you need healthful foods to refuel your body. And if you're breastfeeding, your baby is relying on you for crucial nutrients.The eating patterns you set in the first six months after having a baby can help you lay a foundation of healthful eating for the rest of your life, says Eileen Behan, R.D., a dietitian in Portsmouth, N.H., who specializes in weight management for individuals and families.
Start following these tips now and you'll be well on your way to a healthier, trimmer you—from your baby's toddler to teen years
1. Know your nutrient needs
Here are guidelines to the calories and other nutrients you need daily for safe weight loss and good nutrition. (Calorie needs vary depending on age, metabolism and activity level.) To get the most nutrients from your food, try to buy it as fresh and natural as possible. If you're breast-feeding, put the best nutrients in your breast milk by eating whole food.
If You're Breastfeeding:
- Calories: 2,200–2,400
- Calcium: 1,000–1,300 mg
- Folate: 280 mcg
- Iron: 15 mg
- Protein: 65 g
- Vitamin C: 95 mg
If You're Not Breastfeeding:
- Calories: 1,900–2,200
- Calcium: 1,300 mg
- Folate: 180 mcg
- Iron: 15 mg
- Protein: 44–50 g
- Vitamin C: 60 mg
"All these nutrients are vitally important if you've just had a baby," Behan says. "Folate is important for future pregnancies; vitamin D and calcium are vital for bone health; iron will help with anemia; vitamin C is necessary for iron absorption; and protein is crucial for building and repairing your tissues. You need even more of these nutrients during lactation for milk production and because they leave your body with the milk."
2. Eat often, eat enough
Behan recommends three meals, plus two to three snacks per day. Between meals, graze on fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources. Here's why eating frequently is important: If you're breastfeeding, you need enough calories to fuel milk production.
Drink lots of water, too. You need energy. Eating often will help keep your energy up at a time when it's probably pretty low. It will help you lose weight. "You have to eat well—and often—if you want to lose weight, or you'll be hungry all the time," Behan says. "And there's a limit to how long you can go hungry." If you're overly hungry, you're likely to binge on sugary foods for energy.
3. Be aware of portion sizes
4. Load up on fluids and fiber
Constipation is a common problem for many women post-delivery. To prevent it, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day, and even more if you find yourself feeling thirsty, especially if you're nursing.
As for fiber sources: The gold standard is fruit, veggies and whole grains, but sometimes that's not enough. If you're still having problems moving your bowels, try drinking lemonade or warm liquids such as herbal teas. And if that fails, try Grandma's old standby: prunes and prune juice.
Lastly, every meal needs to include lean protein and veggies. You get the most nutrition in the best ratios by eating lean meat and green vegetables. It is suggested that every new mom takes high-quality multivitamins, Omega 3 oil, liquid chlorophyll (to promote internal cleansing), and a probiotic (to aid digestion)
To get the most nutrition from your food, try to buy it as fresh and natural as possible. If you're breast-feeding, put the best nutrients in your breast milk by eating whole food. Many mothers make the mistake of not eating enough good fats. Every cell in our body is made up of a lipid (fat), so it's essential to increase reasonably the amount you eat for energy and nutrition. Increased healthy fat levels will also provide the extra calories and nutrients you need for breast-feeding. Contrary to popular belief, your body needs fat to run efficiently. Healthy fats from olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocados, and nuts help nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, and cellular health. Avoid soy based products all together. Soy is one of the most prolific offenders when it comes to hormonal imbalance. Soybeans are rich in substances that not only mimic human estrogen but also suppress functioning of the thyroid, the hormone master control system. Regularly consuming soy is linked to hormonal dysfunction, mood swings, depression, infertility, fat gain and muscle loss. Some good alternatives include nut milk instead of soymilk, coconut oil instead of margarine and rice protein instead of soy protein.