How to get your body back after pregnancy
breast feeding
Self-care tips for after birth

Postpartum self-care: tips on how to take care of yourself

Most of us loved being pregnant and we loved our pregnant bodies. But after giving birth, it may be difficult to uphold the self-care that we once did before pregnancy. Some women may find it hard to accept the new bodies they’re left with afterwards. They may wish to just start up a new self-care routine that fits in with their newborn baby, and some may want to lose some weight or tone up their bodies.

It’s important to remember that your body just grew an entire human being for the last 9 months. Your stomach grew so much bigger than its original size so that it can make space for your baby. Your entire body changed completely to accommodate the life growing inside of you, to bring a brand-new person into this world. You did one of the most amazing jobs in the entire world.

You’re perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to feel flawed or pressured into changing a thing about your beautiful new postpartum body. Be proud of your body and what an incredible thing it just achieved. You are beautiful just the way you are.

You’re probably feeling exhausted too, so don’t feel pressured to start exhausting self-care routines too early. Start small, whether it is to have your nails or hair done, to lose some weight, or simply to take a decent bath every day. And yes, decent baths are scarce after having a baby, especially in the early days and weeks.

Why you should take it slow

– No one is expecting perfection from you right now. You don’t need to look gorgeous for others, you’re already beautiful, and you have much more important things on your hands now. If you want to do something for yourself, go straight ahead and do it, but do take it slow.

– Weak core and pelvic floor

During pregnancy, your core muscles will stretch much further than their original state, this will cause them to be weaker than usual after giving birth. Your pelvis will also be weaker than usual as it has been carrying the weight of your baby for a big part of your pregnancy. It needs some time and some specialized exercise to strengthen it back up again.

– Vaginal tears and episiotomies

Vaginal tears and episiotomies come in different degrees, some are very slight, and some are very deep. Most will agree that they’re very uncomfortable though. They can make you feel all over uncomfortable, even sitting and walking can be challenging.

– Caesarean section wounds

If you had a caesarean section, you just had major abdominal surgery. What’s more is you’re taking care of a baby right after having a major abdominal surgery. That’s quite a wound that needs enough time to heal correctly so it won’t cause you complications in the future. This may include no exercise or driving in the first few weeks or months.

– A wound in your womb

After birth, you have a very big wound in your womb. This womb is where the placenta used to be. This is an incredibly vulnerable wound and needs enough time to heal. This is also a big part of why no sexual intercourse is recommended in the first 6 weeks, as this big wound is very susceptible to infections.

– Hormonal changes

There are a lot of hormonal changes going on after giving birth. Estrogen and progesterone suddenly decrease, oxytocin and prolactin drastically increase, all of this can lead to what is referred to as the baby blues. Your breastmilk will start maturing, and you may experience some uncomfortable engorgement as your body learns how much milk your baby needs. All of this may be a very overwhelming time for new mothers. Taking it slow is really important.

– Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is probably one of the hardest parts of becoming a parent. New babies wake a lot, which is normal and healthy, but exhausting for parents. They feed a lot, and they need you 24/7. When you’re used to sleeping 7+ hours straight through the night and suddenly you’re having to wake up every 2-3 hours or stay awake for cluster feeding multiple hours at a time, it will be hard. Your body needs time to rest, to heal, and to adjust to your new lifestyle as a mother. You need to rest when and as often as you possibly can.

– Establishing breastfeeding

If you’re not quite informed and prepared for breastfeeding, and you don’t have the right kind of support, you may feel overwhelmed with all the unexpected feeding behavior in babies. Babies feed often, they also go through periods of cluster feeding when going through growth spurts, but also to establish your milk supply. This is normal but can be overwhelming for a new mother. You, your body and your baby need time to figure out breastfeeding and establish the needed supply for your baby. You also have to drink and eat often to keep up with the caloric and hydration needs of milk production.

Self-care ideas for new mothers

– Taking a long relaxing bubble bath, shaving, exfoliating, moisturizing, washing your hair, deep conditioning masks for your hair, the entire routine.

This may seem very basic, but I can almost guarantee you that most new mothers will give anything for this kind of self-care routine.

– Go and do your nails and/or hair

Whether it’s basic nail polish and a haircut and Blow wave, or the whole thing of doing nails and nail art and cutting and coloring your hair with some highlights and a blow wave too. It’s a great way for many women to blow off some steam, get some me time and just feel so much more relaxed afterwards.

As the popular saying goes, a change is as good as a holiday. And it sure is the truth.

– Reach out for support

Whether it’s support from family and friends, or support from a healthcare professional. If at any time you feel like you need help, reach out for support. There will always be someone who can help you.

– Listen to some music, read a book or watch a movie

Simple but so efficient. Whatever your style, pick one and take an hour or even a day. Newborns are often very happy just to be close to their mother, and they sleep most of the time in any way. You will definitely feel more relaxed when you just sit back and enjoy the moment.

– Let go of those expectations

You don’t need a clean house right now. No one is expecting a huge home cooked meal from you. Just let go and let it be. Once you give in a little bit, you will feel so much more relaxed.

– Get back into fitness, lose some weight or tone up your body

Just to make it clear, this shouldn’t be done right after birth. Please give yourself some time to heal and get used to being a new mother. Be sure to wait for medical clearance from your health care provider before starting a diet or exercise regime after giving birth.

– Join a support group

Whether it’s just a normal new mom’s support group or a breastfeeding support group, you’ll be sure to find something in your area.

Support groups are great to build up a support system if you don’t already have one, and fellow moms often offer amazing emotional support to each other.

Just having a change of scenery may also be enough to allow you to relax and have a good time. Having a support system helps to reduce the risk to postpartum depression too.

– Invest in a postpartum doula

A postpartum doula is not just there to take care of your baby for you, although they sure can help with baby care tasks too.

They support and help you with your daily routine, such as helping you prepare and eat healthy snacks and healthy meals, reminding you to take your pain relievers and even helping you with the baby during those extra sleepless nights so you can get enough sleep to continue being a happy new mommy to your brand-new baby.

Postpartum doulas are especially helpful when you’re a struggling new mother, a single mother, a mother with a medical condition or a disability, or a mother of multiples.

They can offer support with almost anything that you need help with. Whether it’s with the household chores, with the new baby or with child care for your other children, they are a great investment for the postpartum period.

How to lose weight after pregnancy

Breastfeed

If you’re breastfeeding, your body will burn more calories than it usually does. If you’re following a healthy diet and lifestyle, you may lose some, most or even all of your pregnancy weight while doing absolutely nothing at all. Breastfeeding may help some women lose weight, but it’s important to remember that this is not a guarantee, some women may not lose any weight because of breastfeeding itself, especially if you’re taking in more calories than what you’re burning.

– A healthy and balanced diet

I’m not talking about an actual diet, just eating healthier overall. Start off by swapping out all the unhealthy carbohydrates for healthier ones, such as switching out white bread, rice and pasta for wholewheat ones. Try to eat as little sweets, sugary drinks, fatty and processed foods as possible.

Forget about those frequent unhealthy fast foods too. Drink plenty of water and make sure you’re eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and proteins every day.

If you feel like you need more help with a specific diet or guidelines, it may be a good idea for you to contact a registered dietician to tailor a healthy and balanced diet, especially for you.

– Stay hydrated

Did you know that we sometimes tend to think we’re hungry and start snacking when in fact, we’re actually just thirsty? Drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated may help you snack less which of course will lead to reduced weight gain. When we don’t drink enough fluids, our bodies tend to retain water, making us look bloated and weigh more than we actually do. Adequate fluid intake is not just about your weight, but it’s extremely important for your milk supply and your overall health too.

– Exercise

This is a hard one for most of us, isn’t it? Not just the actual exercise but staying motivated to keep going and finding the time with a new baby, other kids and responsibilities while already being so tired and overwhelmed. Exercise is an excellent way to lose weight and tone up your overall body. Exercise is also very important for both your mental and physical health.

You should wait for medical clearance from your healthcare provider before starting exercise. You will usually receive medical clearance around 6 weeks postpartum for a vaginal delivery and 12 weeks postpartum for a caesarean section.

Once you do start exercising, you should start with core and pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen your core and pelvic muscles to prevent any damage. Starting with the wrong type of exercise or exercising too hard can cause injury. Starting with Kegel exercise and slowly moving on to a form of gentle exercise is always a good idea.

Once you have some strength and restoration back in your core and pelvic floor muscles, you can start with some more light to moderate exercise. Remember to listen to your body and take a step back when you feel like it may be necessary.

– Get enough rest

This may seem like a very obvious one, but it’s actually one of the most important recommendations of them all. For our bodies to do the healing it needs to do, we need to rest as much as possible. The more you’re able to rest, the quicker your healing will be. Not to mention that sleep will be quite scarce with a newborn in the house, so it’s even more important to get the rest you need, whenever you can. The house and chores can wait, take as much time as you need for you and your baby.

– Self acceptance

You’ll have to remember that your body just grew an entire little baby, it grew and changed completely to be able to accommodate this new life that you were carrying. Your body may never be exactly what it was before, and that’s okay too. Aim for a mentally and physically healthy mind and body, the rest will fall into place.

Remember to be kind to yourself. You just grew a whole human being, talk about being a superwoman. You’re perfect just the way you are, and you will get where you want to be with just a little bit of patience and a whole lot of self-care and self-love.

Important notes on self-care

Be sure to take good care of your partner too, the postpartum period is hard for all new parents.

Keeping up with the constant needs of a newborn baby and having to try and get plenty of rest, deal with those really hard postpartum mood swings, having to take care of your mental health and keeping up with all the new motherhood challenges is not an easy task. It will take time to adjust, and you will need some type of support.

Remember that even though you have to take care of your baby’s needs, you shouldn’t forget about your own needs. Healthy parents are just as essential as a healthy baby.

Always remember that if you ever feel the need for help or support, please reach out for support from the correct healthcare professional. The sooner you receive the help that you need, the sooner you can enjoy your new life with your new baby.

 

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