Let´s be honest, having babies changes our bodies forever. Those pregnancy hormones along with cravings, eating enough to grow a healthy baby and support good milk supply and then the exhaustion of caring for a newborn sure can take a toll on any new mom. Add in subsequent pregnancies and balancing life with a child(ren) and a baby can sometimes leave little time for preparing the most nutritious meals, going to the gym or to have an exercise routine.
So what’s a mom to do to get that pre-baby body back? Here are 8 gentle (no crash diets) ideas to explore:
1. Accept that change will take time. It took nine months for that baby to grow and for your body to change. It might take nine months or even longer for your body to change again. Make a plan or take things in stride, accept that finding time to change your body shape might not be your highest priority as a new parent.
2. Accept that some things will not change. As your baby grew your rib cage expanded and your pelvis had to stretch to birth your baby. Thanks to a hormone called relaxin your ligaments loosed to help those changes. Relaxin also travels the whole body so for some it means longer or wider feet...forever…I sport a scar from my first birth which was a cesarian. Although hidden, it will always be there and over time I have learned to love it.
3. Breastfeed: Breastfeeding is normal and a natural way to nuture a baby. As a side factor, some moms find breastfeeding boosts their weight loss. Breastfeeding induces a flow of hormones in the body that help the uterus contract back to pre-baby size. Breastfeeding also boosts oxytocin which can help you feel happy and relaxed. To produce milk you naturally need energy and holding baby while feeding does as well so you burn calories. It’s not a guarantee as it’s just one of those things that works for some moms, not so for others.
4. Practice baby wearing: Aside being a lovely bonding experience, keeping baby close also triggers “mothering” hormones which can increase happiness and overall mood. Being happy about life generally translates into being happier about your own body/self image. It also means you are carrying 4lbs, 6lbs, 10lbs however much it may be along with you as you move about the day.
5. Create a workout plan that is baby friendly: Taking daily walks with baby, trying a mama-baby yoga class, signing up for a stroller meet up are all ways to add exercise into your week without loosing connection to baby.
6. Gift yourself time for self-care: Involving dads and/or another trusted care giver to stay with baby while you take an hour or two to work out, meditate, jog, whatever it maybe is not only ok for baby but very healthy for you.
7. Try to get plenty of sleep. Safe co-sleeping, napping when you can, getting plenty of rest will help you feel better and your body work better.
8. Nourish your body: Sure sometimes things will get hectic it will be hard to cook the most nutritious meal, but whenever possible stick to whole foods and healthy choices. If you stock up on healthy snacks and avoid buying foods that are not so good for you, it makes it that much harder to eat those foods you wish to avoid.
Post pregnancy body shape acceptance can be a struggle. Sometimes it’s important to embrace ourselves just as we are, and then change when and what we can when the time is right.
I love to say this to my children “we all come in different shapes and sizes but our hearts were built the same so we can love each other which ever way we are.”
Are you struggling or at peace with your new body image? Which of these ideas have worked for you or will you try? What would you add to this list?
Peace & Be Well,
Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net