Whether you’re a new mom, or you’ve just had your fourth child, snapping back after pregnancy can be harder than imagined. Trying to find time for yourself whilst juggling your children’s well-being can be tough.
Celebrity mothers make it look like a piece of cake. And while it can be for some, for majority of us it’s not. While motherhood is a beautiful thing, it can be traumatic to the body and the mind. Your clothing size, breast shape, hip width and even your shoe size might be different. These changes are evidence of the work your body has done.
Follow these tips to bounce back and feel great (not in any order):
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to sweat
Regular exercise is quite essential if you’re wanting to fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans. Committing to regular exercise will allow for all the excess weight to drop, as well as to make you feel energetic and strong (which you’ll need when your children start crawling). It will make you feel good too—it’s been proven to help with postnatal depression
Wait for your doctor to give you the go-ahead, usually about six weeks after you give birth. Then ease into exercise. In addition to moderate cardio, a postpartum workout should focus on building up the muscles of your torso (which took a beating when you were pregnant). Every mom can benefit from core strengthening. The rectus abdominal muscles are stretched during pregnancy in a way that makes it impossible to exercise them during that time. Some women also experience a separation of the abdominal wall muscles, which is called ‘rectus abdominis diastasis’. Exercises that target this condition can bring the muscles back together again.
Tip 2: Feast on health
You don't need me, or any other nutritionist, telling you to reach for an apple instead, of crisps. The problem with most of us is that we keep falling off the ‘healthy-eating’ wagon because junk food is so convenient.
Choose foods that are going to nourish your body. Eat nutrient-dense meals. Think plenty of protein for recovery and repair, healthy fats for hormonal health and good, unrefined, carbs for energy. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too. Balanced nutrition and regulated intake are also critical for mental and emotional stability.
Side note: It is important not to cut back your calories too much as this can compromise your ability to produce milk.
Tip 3: Breastfeed (if you can)
Breastfeeding is a fast way to shrink the uterus back down to pre-pregnancy size. It can also burn up to 600 calories a day! Unfortunately, watching your food portions, eating a well-balanced diet, and partaking in frequent exercise is still very important. Please don’t fall into the “breastfeeding diet” trap and wonder why you’re not getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight!
Tip 4: Be kinder to yourself
While it’s normal to be frustrated with your postpartum body (especially compared to what you see on Instagram), it’s also important to put it in perspective. It’s unrealistic to compare yourself to celebrities, and influencers, who have personal trainers and personal chefs (and photoshop). Your body changes over time; it takes a while to get close to your pre-pregnancy shape and size. Give yourself time. Changing your body composition, after childbirth or any stage of your life, is a lifestyle, not an end destination.
Lastly, on the contrary, I do think that we should also spend more time celebrating our incredible bodies that led to motherhood. We, as women, should love our bodies for all they can do, and what they have done for us.