Giving a child the gift of life is one of the most enchanting and exciting things you can do. This little life spends nine months thriving inside of you, taking every ounce of energy and nutrients that run through your body. They feed and grow and feed some more and your body inevitably expands along with it.
Suddenly you’re in my position, 40 weeks pregnant and 60 pounds heavier than you were before pregnancy. I was okay with it. I was, really. I was able to loan my body to create the most perfect little human in the world, and every chapter of her development was worth another pound in my book.
Then she came out.
Instantly I was down about 20 pounds. Between my eight pound daughter and the mountain of water, I felt so much lighter, almost empty. That left 40 pounds before I would hit my pre-pregnancy weight. My main concern was for my daughter to be thriving and healthy. I waited the recommended amount of time before beginning any sort of physical activity because I wanted to give my body time to heal.
Healing is important.
Your body WILL bounce back. Your body is adapting itself to post-pregnancy. It took nine long months to become the powerhouse made to create a child, and it is going to need time to return to its former self.
DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF.
You, and your baby if you’re breastfeeding, need nutrients and nourishment. Your body is healing, and it needs the calories in order to keep your system running properly. Your baby needs for you to provide it with rich breastmilk if you’re breastfeeding, and you need to eat a variety of healthy vitamin rich foods to offer a balanced palate. If you are breastfeeding, you need an average of 500 calories more per day in order to supply baby with enough food and keep your own body healthy.
Once the six weeks is up (and after a post natal doctors visit) feel free to begin your regular workout routine. Personally, I didn’t have one. When I gave birth, it was January. January in Canada is very cold, and I was going a little stir crazy. Luckily my husband and I were gifted a jogging stroller, so I bundled baby and my dog up and took them for frequent walks.
Walk everywhere, then walk some more.
We walked everywhere. Around my parents neighborhood and visited my mom, down the dirt road near my home, in town so I could window shop, in shopping malls if it was a particularly nasty day. The more I walked, the more energy I burned, the better I felt being in the outdoors. Fresh air does wonders. The first few weeks though, I was stuck in the house with twenty below temperatures.
Try to avoid temptation.
By being isolated for those first few weeks, staying inside and enjoying baby cuddles, I was able to avoid the temptations of the outside world. There were no chocolate bars at my reach or tempting drive thru’s to go to, I was able to sit at home with a homemade coffee and a bagel and simply enjoy my child. If I wanted something sweet, I was forced to make it, and who wants to that?!
I wore maternity pants for a while after giving birth (or pajama pants when at home). Besides being the most comfortable pants ever, they were familiar and fit me well. My uterus had contracted down to its normal size quickly, partially due to the breastfeeding. I was able to fit into my regular pants soon after giving birth but I still opted for the maternity ones because they were more comforting.
Don’t force yourself into your old clothes too quickly.
Chances are, they probably won’t fit the same. Things will hug in different places, shirts will show more than they did before, and you may not feel confident in yourself. Give your body time.
By avoiding the fast food and junk food, eating regularly, breastfeeding and excessive amounts of walking, I was able to drop 70 pounds in the first six months after giving birth. My goal was to fit back into my wedding dress. I achieved this goal. This may not work for everyone. You may think I’m crazy, but I swear to you, if you believe in yourself, you can do it too.
Join local baby groups and meet other moms.
Having a social network to lean on is important. My family lives nearby and I was able to include them in my daughter’s life from day one. I wanted some mom friends my own age, ones who understood the struggles I was going through. I went to my local early learning center, and made some connections with other moms in my shoes. We bonded, shared our struggles and our children benefited from social interaction as well. It was amazing to bounce ideas off of these other moms and spend some time just talking about life.
Everyone’s metabolism is different. Everyone craves different things. Some people love to work out, some people are chronically lazy (I am the latter). Push yourself to get out soon after having baby and get that fresh air. You would be surprised at what walking can do.
You can do it!
Pregnancy is a struggle. Motherhood is a struggle. You may feel like things keep piling up and there’s no end in sight. You can do it. You’ve created a miracle and given yourself to help make this little miracle thrive. Don’t give up. Take all the time you need and take care of yourself first. Making yourself feel good is the best thing you can do for you and for baby. Happy mom, happy baby.