from the moment your bundle of joy arrives into your arms, your life as you knew it is never the same. Those first few weeks are a mixture of incredible and exhausting and will probably fly by in a hazy daze as you get to grips with being a parent. you may not get a minute to yourself as your baby needs you 24/7 not to mention the the endless flurry of visitors that all come to meet your new babe. Navigating the early days can be difficult as its not uncommon to neglect your own good health as you tend to your baby’s every whim and whimper.
here are my 10 top tips of how to keep yourself healthy and sane in order to keep your energy up to cope with the new demands of motherhood:
1. sleep when baby sleeps. Ok realistically this just doesn’t happen as much as it should. When baby is asleep it’s just too tempting to try and catch some me-time. Alternatively try out yoga nidra. 20-minutes of this powerful yogic sleep is the equivalent to a 4-hour sleep. A very efficient way of napping and restoring your energy reserves
2. eat and drink well. Stay hydrated. Especially if breastfeeding. 3 litres of water a day! Keep a big bottle of water available by your side at all times. Try and eat protein in every meal to help with rebuilding muscle tissue and keeping your energy up. Ensure that you get iron and omega 3-6-9 for the wellbeing of you and your baby. Try out those vitamin and mineral supplements for breast feeding/postnatal women.
3. reduce all of your practical burdens. Delegate and outsource whatever you can in terms of household chores. Make the most of your visitors, they are likely to be very happy to help you out with anything that makes your life easier. Food and nappy shop online.
4. check-in with a body-work specialist. whether it be a physio, an osteo, an acupuncturist or a massage therapis Choose one that specialises in postnatal bodies. Having a body M.O.T early on is a good way to bring awareness to any misalignments or vulnerable areas to avoid any dodgy aches and pains exasperating as your baby gets heavier and the sleepless nights accumulate.
5. assess the degree of gap between your rectus abdomini. Take measurements of the degree of space and keep note so that you can assess your healing. Look out for signs of abdominal separation. Check out more info here.
6. reconnect to your pelvic floor and your abdominals asap. These areas may feel quite tender so you may want to avoid area but its so important to give them love and attention as soon as possible in order to help the healing process. Gentle and mindful T.V.A activation helps rebuild the abdominal wall and stabilise the pelvis. Pelvic floor exercises help recover from any trauma in the region.
7. try out Aromatherapy oils to help shift out some of the water retention. I created an anti-cellulite oil that helps with lymphatic drainage, reduces water retention and increases blood flow circulation. Active ingredients included sweet fennel, grapefruit, lemongrass and ginger. I found massaging it rigorously into the legs, tum and bum and helped reduce the wobble and tighten up my skin, not a stretch -mark in sight! Smells amazing too. Email me if you’d like to order some from me.
8. invest in a home hand-held massager. Its quite common to suffer with back aches and pains and its very rare to be able to get away for an hour for a proper massage and your partner is probably also exhausted so chances of getting a good massage out of them might be slim. So getting a handheld massager is the next best thing. I bought this one and it’s amazing! I wish I’d bought it much sooner, after having spent a fortune on therapist treatments, yet this handheld one fixed my back right up!
9. start low-impact gentle exercise. Walking and pilates and postnatal yoga are the best ways to get your body moving again. Avoid high impact exercise until you’re confident that your abdominals have healed/are healing properly. Personally, I didn’t and wouldn’t go to a normal open level yoga class until I felt that my core was strong enough. A normal class simply cannot factor for the amount of modifications that you would need as a postnatal lady. If you’re breastfeeding you still have plenty of relaxin hormone in your bloodstream which keeps your ligaments soft and your joints at risk. It’s not the time to strive for new flexibility. Postnatal fitness should be focused on maintaining stability around the joints and gently and mindfully rebuilding the strength and control of the deep core muscles, then strengthen the major muscle groups. Only then can you add on aerobic fitness. (aerobic fitness should be performed when you feel well-rested to avoid further energy depletion and increasing cortisol levels). This progression, in my view is the safest most sustainable route back to fitness.
10. don’t burden yourself with high expectations and ideals for what you ‘should’ be and do as a mum. It’s normal to feel unsure whether you are doing the right thing or doing well. Forgetting the odd-nappy change or not making it out of your pyjamas or the house in time for rhyme-time at the children’s centre can cause all kinds of ‘mum-guilt’. Never compare your child or your choice of parenting with others. It’s fine to compare for frame of reference and reassurance but totally pointless if you find yourself doing it for attaining performance benchmarks. Forget it, no one is perfect and the sooner you don’t try to be, the sooner you can relax and enjoy your baby and they can enjoy you.