Fitpregnancy Tips Every New Mom Should Know

Becoming a mom can cause all sorts of feelings, from positives like excitement, joy, and happiness to negatives like uncertainty, frustration, sadness, loneliness, and many more.

While motherhood is a blessing, it can also become a more challenging period than you imagined as you are more vulnerable than ever and your body and mind go through a lot during this time.

When you start to struggle, it is important to remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed or not know what to do, especially as a first-time mom.

Even experienced moms can have completely different experiences with each birth because every baby is unique.

As a pre- and postnatal coach, I have gained valuable insights and learnings from years of experience, which I share with new moms to help them cope and thrive during this challenging yet magical period in their lives. These are my top tips:

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Be The Best Mom You Can Be

Many parents have high expectations of themselves. As we grow and age, we learn new things based on our surroundings and experiences, and we start building an opinion about what the ideal parent should do and what they should not.

We them aim to achieve this standard we set for ourselves when we become parents. Whether we want it or not, we impose this pressure on ourselves while external pressures from our environment: family, friends and society can add to the psychological and emotional load.

As you want to be the best possible role model for your child, it is understandable that you want to be the ‘perfect’ mom. However, that is an unrealistic ideal, no matter how well-intentioned it is.

Always remember that it is impossible do everything perfectly, and that’s okay. It’s normal because you are human, with inherent flaws and shortcomings like everyone else, and only a limited amount of energy.

Just like your baby tries new things and makes mistakes – it’s how we learn, after all – you will do the same as a new mom.

The best way you can reduce that common “mom-guilt” feeling is to acknowledge that no one is perfect, and that simply doing your best and being present and attentive to your child is enough.

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Eat Right After Having A Baby

The ideal diet after childbirth is a controversial topic. While many moms want to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy body, it is not always clear how much they should eat, what kind of foods influences the baby, and whether or not they should lose weight at all, especially while breastfeeding.

Family members, friends and even neighbours are quick to offer advice to new moms, which may differ from recommendations made by doctors, midwives and other official bodies. It can all get so confusing!

To offer some perspective on the main recommendations to inform your decisions about what to try and what works best for you and your baby, consider these common guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA, the National Health Service (NHS) in England, the European Institute of Breastfeeding and Lactation, and various Australian experts.

Common themes and recommendations made by all include eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods, and encouraging new moms to manage their weight postpartum with a healthy diet and physical exercise.

Even if you breastfeed, there is no reason why you cannot target moderate weight loss. Healthy recommendations range from 0.5-1 kg per week.

Based on the energy demands that breastfeeding places on your body, you may not need to adjust your healthy diet to lose weight. Milk production requires 300-500 kcal per day, which is why the right approach to eating may result in healthy, sustainable weight loss without the need for additional calorie restriction or extra exercise.

And there are no foods you should avoid, regardless of what some cultural traditions may state. However, it is recommended that you limit caffeine intake to about 300 mg per day, which is about 2-3 cups of coffee, and avoid alcohol and fish high in mercury.

A breastfeeding mom needs more nutrients to provide for herself and her baby, particularly additional iron, vitamin D, iodine, choline, and vitamin B12. You could get these micronutrients only from food or by adding suitable supplements to your diet.

These recommendations are, however, for a breastfeeding mom. Women who don’t breastfeed don’t have any food limitations and should eat a healthy diet that contains various nutritious foods.

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When To Start Exercising After Childbirth

A common mistake made by new moms is thinking that they can start easy with exercise and slowly progress without specialised recovery. Thinking it is easy to return to your training routine is especially prevalent if women don’t have symptoms like urinal or bowel leakage, heaviness, or pelvic region pain.

In practise, it is not that simple. Your body goes through significant changes during pregnancy, with dramatic hormonal changes and growing belly that stretches your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, along with changes to your breathing pattern and posture.

Unless you had a C-section or other exceptions, labour also takes a toll on your body, as does the delivery of your baby. Both types of delivery – either a vaginal birth or C-section – have significant implications for your body. A spontaneous vaginal birth could lead to tears, stretching or other injuries in your pelvic floor, while a C-section is major abdominal surgery.

While some symptoms we can see and feel, like a C-section scar or soreness, we generally can’t see and sense everything. That’s why you need proper postpartum recovery before returning to your regular workouts.

In most cases, you can start with simple breathing exercises in the first few days postpartum. You can then slowly progress to reconnecting with your pelvic floor muscles and your core. After that, you can start introducing full-body exercises.

When you are cleared for exercise after your 6 or 8-week postpartum appointment, it doesn’t mean you can go all-in and resume training at your previous level and intensity. The recovery can take months and even years!

The faster you restore your body’s normal function and learn how to manage intra-abdominal pressure, the faster you can return to your training routine.

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Follow A Postpartum Recovery Plan

A proper postpartum recovery plan is always your first step after childbirth, regardless of how fit you are or were before pregnancy.

Postpartum recovery is meant to recover the normal function of your body and all the tissues involved in childbirth that might have been injured.

This plan should address common issues such as diastasis recti, stretched pelvic floor muscles, and changes in your posture and breathing pattern.

In the case of a c-section, you need adequate care and rehab after this major surgery. Even if you don’t have any symptoms like urinary or bowel leakage, sexual dysfunction, pelvic heaviness, vaginal bulging, pain, painful sex, difficulty with the insertion, and even back pain and tight jaw and neck muscles, you will need to follow a recovery plan.

Research shows that not finishing a postpartum recovery plan could lead to these symptoms later in life. And if you already have these symptoms, they can worsen over time.

By completing a postpartum recovery plan, you ensure that you can return to training safely and reduce if not eliminate all the unwanted symptoms you might have now or in the future.

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It’s Okay Not To Feel Okay (But Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help)

Feeling ‘not okay’ after childbirth is normal. Physically, your body has just gone through a major event and full recovery takes time.

Add to that the hormonal changes that follow, and caring for a newborn who cries and needs you 24/7, makes it even tougher!

Know that feeling not okay is okay during this vulnerable period. However, while it’s okay to not feel okay, your feelings shouldn’t be dismissed as just being tired or overwhelmed. Sometimes it can be postpartum anxiety or depression, and it is essential to diagnose these conditions early on.

If something feels off, just a little bit, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Better to be safe than sorry! For emotional support, speak to a friend or a family member you trust, but there is also no shame in speaking to a mental health professional.

If you have any physical symptoms or pain, talk to your OB-GYN or primary healthcare provider. They might refer you to a pelvic floor physiotherapist or another health provider who can address your specific condition.

It’s also beneficial to work with a coach or trainer who specialises in postpartum recovery and regularly works with expectant and new mothers as they can relate to the struggles a new mom goes through.

Surround yourself with a good support system to ensure you and your baby are well cared for because you deserve nothing less.

By Elena Biedert

About the author: Elena Biedert is a certified fitness, nutrition, and mindset coach for women. She specialises in supporting new moms with their postpartum recovery and fitness goals so that they can feel strong, confident, and look even better than they did before pregnancy without sacrificing their precious family time. After having a traumatic experience after the birth of her son, feeling lost, and seeing that nearly every new mom felt the same way, she wanted to make a difference and launched her online coaching business “Mama Fitness Coaching”. Thanks to her articles and internationally-published book, she could reach even more women and parents and address contradictory topics. Follow her on IG @elenabiedert or @MamaFitnessCoaching or visit mamafitnesscoaching.com.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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