Maybe it's just me, but I feel like this topic isn't talked about a whole lot. Going into pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect after I had the baby...and honestly it wasn't something I thought about a ton. I was just so excited for our baby to get here!
Now that I'm 3 weeks postpartum, I'd say I'm in the thick of the "recovery" process. I've had a lot of questions about my nutrition, exercise, and products I've used to help me so I figured I'd share it all here. Hopefully it helps other women who are currently pregnant (or plan to get pregnant) prepare for the recovery part, or for women who are in my shoes and are going through it right now!
First off, it's SO easy to fall into the comparison trap. We're all different, we all had different pregnancies, so OF COURSE our bodies are going to respond different after pregnancy. I think pictures can be very deceiving too! These pictures don't show how soft my tummy still is. My skin is tightening up, but it stretched for 9 months so I can't expect it to go back to normal immediately (that would be rad though). I think it's so important to appreciate our bodies for freaking CREATING a human, and loving it for that!! Mentally, it's hard to see how our bodies have changed post-baby...but instead of dwelling on that, I've been trying to focus on what an incredible thing my body did!
Second, I talk about more specific things below...but these are a couple of things that are helping with this postpartum body business:
- Breastfeeding - the hormones released while nursing cause the uterus to contract and go back to its normal size. While it does burn up a crazy amount of calories (and leaves me feeling like I just wrapped up a 10 hour workout), you have to eat more to refuel, so I wouldn't necessarily say that this aspect of nursing helps you lose the weight. For some women, the hormones actually prevent them from losing weight.
- Do the hard work during pregnancy!!! As you'll see from reading below, I'm not doing a whole lot of anything special with my nutrition and exercise right now. Most of my "physical" recovery has been from working out and eating healthy during pregnancy. I would say those 2 things have been the biggest factors in helping me recover.
This is my first time breastfeeding (obvi) and I'm only 3 weeks into it so I'm definitely not experienced or qualified to give any tips on how to breastfeed, latching etc. (I love Lactation Link for that! She offers so many helpful tips on her Instagram and she has packages you can purchase on her website that provide everything you need to know.) I will say to find good nipple butter though! I know this isn't pleasant to talk about, but nipples crack and bleed at the beginning (seriously, no one prepared me for how.bad.it.hurts!!!!), so get a good ointment! I've been using UpSpring's Organic Nipple Balm and it's amazing! I also love my boppy to hold Piper up and to stop me from slouching over while I nurse her! Here are some good stretches to help with the " poor breastfeeding posture" (my back and shoulders ached for a while because of this).
I feel pretty strongly about this topic, but I'm cautious of offending anyone because of course everyone heals differently and we each know what's best for our own bodies...but I think it's smart to wait the recommended 6 weeks before jumping back into exercise. I see videos and pictures on Instagram of women doing exercises that maybe aren't the safest for the body right after giving birth (particularly where the core is concerned). Just keep in mind that not everyone is qualified to give advice on postpartum exercise, and what works for one person doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. I go on a light walk with Piper every day for about 45 minutes. I do this more for my mental state and to get us out of the house and get some fresh air. I've also just started doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises a couple of times a week (I posted them here). That is the extent of it and I don't plan on doing anything else until my ObGyn gives me the go-ahead.
Now that my milk has fully kicked in (I feel like an unsexy, leaking cow haha), I'm definitely eating a TON more than before. I feel like I'm eating non-stop right now, but my body needs it so I'm not restricting my intake in any way. To be 100% honest, I haven't been crazy strict with my diet, as I don't have any specific goals I'm working towards. My meals are usually healthy, but I have been having a few more treats throughout the week. I make sure I drink a loooot, have tons of veggies, good protein, healthy carbs and fats throughout the day...but I also have a couple of treats here and there. I'm eating a lot more fats (my body actually craves them) and a lot more good carbs. Once I get to 6 weeks PP, my diet will change a little as I jump back into exercising regularly and set new goals...but for now I'm nourishing my body properly without going extreme.
Being a new mum is the most emotionally and physically draining thing I've ever done, but I've never been happier. I know that makes no sense at all...but it's the only way I can explain it. Hormones are balancing themselves out again, you're completely exhausted, you're figuring out breastfeeding (and dealing with the pain that goes along with it), and your body looks and feels very different - it's just hard. BUT you have this sweet, precious baby that's yours and it's soooo worth it! I wish I had known that it's normal to have a few meltdowns before experiencing them and thinking I had gone insane haha. But it is normal! And regardless of how hard it can sometimes be, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.