How to take care of your post-baby body
Ah, the joys of pregnancy and the magical gift of children it brings. From waiting for the arrival of your due date to the newborn cuddles, smiles, and unconditional love, not to mention the sleep deprivation, the post-pregnancy belly, and the stretch marks. Yes, pregnancy, birth and post-birth are not all sweetness and light, as some may think. Becoming a mum plays havoc on your pelvic floor, and you’re left with this dreaded baby weight that you want to shift, but the thought of postnatal exercise when you’re still in recovery mode from your battle scars sends you running under the covers. You may have even suffered from diastasis recti after pregnancy (separated stomach muscles) and you’re suffering from back pain postpartum, so you have no idea how or where to start on your post-baby body workout. And what do you wear to cover that muffin top now? Do not fear, help is at hand! Below are Motherhood Diaries’ Top tried and tested ways on how to take care of your post-baby body.
Surround yourself with a support network during the fourth trimester
It has been proven through various studies around the world that a strong support network around a new mum reduces the chances of postnatal depression and that dreaded feeling of burning out. Ask for help and take it when you are offered the opportunity, whether that means allowing someone else to cook the dinner, tidy up your home or take care of the baby for a couple of hours. If you’re feeling particularly down, there’s nothing like venting your troubles to someone you trust and then letting it go. You’re not complaining and you’re not superficial. Being a mum is hard, I don’t know any mum who hasn’t gone through their first parenting year without having a few meltdowns now and again. If you are still feeling blue and you don’t know how to get out of the funk then speak to your doctor for advice and consider a postpartum depression screening to eliminate or diagnose the possibility of postnatal depression.
Balance your mind and body through mindfulness and relaxation
Having a baby is a huge culture shock, especially if you are a first time mum and you have been used to eating when you want, sleeping when you want and relaxing the mind when you want. You will often get times when you will feel like the world is crashing down on you, thanks to a crying baby, the ever-growing laundry and watching your dinner get cold for the fifth time that day. Take this moment now say ‘STOP!’ Put whatever it is you’re doing down (unless you’re in the middle of a feed) and close your eyes. Any thoughts that come to your mind acknowledge them and then wave them away. Focus on how you are feeling at that moment. If your baby is feeding, focus on what you are doing to feed your baby. What does s/he smell like? What does your breast milk or her bottle milk smell like? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Focussing on the present moment is called mindfulness and it allows you to push unnecessary thoughts away so that you can concentrate only on the here and now. Now breathe in and exhale deeply, blowing the excess air away through your lips. Doing both of these things can bring balance instantly when there is turmoil around you. Now do this every day for just five minutes (longer is better) and you will find that you can tackle the world around you once you’ve given yourself a break. We all feel like failures at some point in our parenting lives, but remember that the amount we deal with makes us supermums! Positivity is key, but you have to work on it for the sake of your mental health.
Treat yourself to some new clothes – even if they’re a couple of sizes bigger!
The consensus on losing weight after pregnancy is that it takes nine months to grow a baby, so it will take nine months to lose that after pregnancy belly. But, even after the nine months have been and gone, you may still be struggling to lose that extra weight. The whole process seems to be taking forever and you’re too tired to exercise. Please allow yourself a break and embrace the weight gain after pregnancy. Your body just delivered a brand new baby, which is pretty darn amazing, so give yourself the chance to heal and recover naturally. You could always look for a post-pregnancy workout to try when you get the opportunity and you could try a belly band to hold in the stomach after baby and keep things tight around your waist.
Chances are your partner hasn’t even noticed the extra few inches, but why don’t you use this chance anyway to treat yourself to some new flattering post pregnancy clothes, like the following great new arrivals from Bonmarche, which will not only help you to feel better in your post-baby body, but make you feel good enough to spark that road to recovery.
When the season changes and the temperature starts to cool down, you may be thankful for the opportunity to hide those new lumps and bumps in an oversized coat. But wearing what may resemble a tent, may make you end up looking bigger overall. Opt for a light wearing bright mac, like the Packaway Mac from Bonmarche, which works perfectly to protect you against the rain and drapes over the post-baby belly without making you look like The Hulk. A Gilet can also cover you in colder weather without making you look frumpy and bigger than you are.
A flowy top that drapes over the waist
A flowy top like the above Butterfly Print Top with Side Tie allows the top to fit over the shoulder and arms creating a smaller frame while falling to the side, so it doesn’t cinch at the waist. The side tie allows for more flexibility, so as you slowly start to lose the weight you can tighten or loosen the tie according to how you feel that day. Flexibility is key and kind on your post-baby body!
Layered clothes can create vertical lines and disguise the belly
Layering is very effective at elongating the body as it creates the illusion of vertical lines that distracts the eye from your stomach. Try adding a shrug to a flowing dress like the above 2 in 1 Dress with Shrug or a double-layered top accessorised with a flowing necklace, which creates a classic and versatile look that lengthens the body with an elegant chiffon overlayer. Team up with some comfy leggings that hug at the waist lightly, and you can shed inches off your overall body needing to hit the gym!
N.B – Don’t forget that those celebrities who look amazing with a baby after birth employ personal trainers, chefs and nannies to get that toned stomach because they have the money to spend on these luxuries, which, is what they are, luxuries! You would look like them too if you had that kind of money – and time! Eventually, you will get your mojo back and you will feel human again – but it takes time, so give yourself the luxury of time.
You can also get 20% off all products on Bonmarche’s website (subject to a £20 minimum spend) which kicks off today and ends on 5th September 2019, so hurry before the offer ends! The code is BONUSD19.
Make sure your undergarments are comfortable, supportive, and sexy
You may not be in the mood to strip down to your unmentionables anytime soon, especially when you still have those lingering hormones after pregnancy, a wobbly belly, and drooping boobs. But, getting yourself measured for a well-fitting bra will not only make you feel better about yourself, but it will also reduce the back pain after pregnancy and from prolonged wear of ill-fitting bras. Investing in some supportive post-pregnancy underwear that holds everything in will make you feel tighter and more confident. You could lose a dress size by just holding that post-pregnancy stomach in with some Spanx or a belly support band! There are loads of excellent tummy shaping underwear in the shops these days, so it’s worth getting measured up and then browsing the stores. You may find it easier to shop online while your baby sleeps, but make sure you go in and get your bra size measured, as you may not receive an accurate reading using just online tools.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
It is an overused phrase and it’s guaranteed to make most new mums go mad, especially when you’re wondering, “When else will I get the time to have a shower, watch TV, work, or simply make myself something to eat!?” But, there is a point to this. Sleep regenerates the cells and rejuvenates a tired body so even an extra 15-minute nap during the day would be enough to make you feel better about yourself and reduce that dreaded onset of sleep deprivation.
Eat right and your body will reward you for it
Don’t worry about counting calories or actively watching what you eat. As long as you are adopting a healthy post-baby diet and eating everything in moderation, i.e. plenty of fruits and vegetables, protein, carbs and even fat (good fats) then you’re probably doing the right thing and the weight will fall off naturally. When you’re a new 24-hour Supermum, it may be easier to graze on snacks throughout the day, but make sure you’re keeping your energy levels up by eating from all food groups. If you want to have a chocolate bar, then have it. Just don’t have ten in one go because it will hinder your chances of losing weight. It’s a good idea to stock your house with lots of snacks like fruit bars, nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate and popcorn. Don’t forget eating right also aids in natural weight loss too – two birds, one stone!
Your baby will find a way to stop you from eating a proper meal, so if you’ve missed dinner, eating the above high-protein snacks will help you feel better and reduce your chances of over-indulging on the bad stuff until you do get a chance to eat later. The trick is to take care of your post-baby body as well as your baby’s so that you have the strength to get through those tough first few months relatively unscathed.
One of the things you may forget to do during those first few months, apart from eating is to hydrate. When you’re dehydrated, you feel drowsy, your brain turns to mush and you feel irritable. Having a large bottle of water with you at all times will encourage you to drink those cobwebs away. You may even need more than eight glasses or two litres of water a day when you’re breastfeeding, so make sure you take that time to hydrate because it will bring some life back into your mind and body when you need it the most.
Exercise every day – even if it’s just gentle exercise, like walking outdoors
After having a baby, you may start to experience cabin fever and feel trapped inside your own house like a caged hen. Give yourself a great excuse to don your new clothes and undergarments and take your baby out for a walk. Postpartum exercise is vital for recovery and the physical exercise will clear out the cobwebs and provide renewed energy. Walking in the fresh air also comes with a multitude of benefits: it’s good for your baby (they learn about the great outdoors), you’ll burn a few calories, and your mood will improve. Also walking after giving birth will help you recover much quicker too. You can use that time to zone out the noise and enjoy a nice walk around your local park. You may find some of that peace you’ve craved for a while now (well, maybe not in some parts of London, but you’ll still feel miles better than when you were stuck indoors.)
Take care of your skin
From the late-night feeds to the infrequent meals and lack of time to shower, your skin will experience a whole myriad of attacks and may start to look dry, patchy and older. It’s essential to find a few minutes twice a day (generally morning and night) to hydrate your skin with a good skincare routine. I swear by Infinatura Cura Oil which is a serum that contains eight 100% natural elements and hydrates the skin very well. You will start to notice a massive improvement in your skin after only a few applications. Coconut oil is also great for the body and hair and saves you time and money looking for other skincare products!
Book a mother/baby/family photoshoot
A family photoshoot often gets overlooked when you’re worried about taking your baby home, as well as the new to-do list that comes with being a parent (as if you didn’t have enough to think about already!) But those first few weeks fly by so quickly that you’ll be left with blurred memories thanks to sleep deprivation and no concept of time. Don’t worry about that post-baby body in the pictures! Capture the memory forever with your newborn and book a family shoot that immortalises those precious first moments. If you have other children they’ll be grateful for the memories later when they look back at how young and free they were once upon a time!
Look at your baby and remember why you’re doing all of this in the first place
Yes, it’s hard, yes, you need sleep, food, and acknowledgement that you’re a super mum once in a while. Now, turn and look at your baby. You made that! That tiny ball of sheer beauty is your reminder that someone thinks you’re the most fantastic thing in the world. They love you unconditionally and they rely on you 100%, no questions asked. They don’t see your bulge, your stretch marks, your dark circles or the fact that you haven’t been out of your pyjamas all day. Your body is the reason they are alive right now. In a blink of an eye, they’ll be all grown up and they won’t want those nighttime cuddles or extra attention anymore. You are so selflessly sacrificing your life to ensure they have the best start in theirs, ready to flee the nest and live in their own exciting world. I know it’s hard, but enjoy the time while you can when they’re a big ball of love because time flies so fast when you have your amazing children with you.
Have you got any surefire tips on how to take care of your post-baby body? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.
*This post is sponsored by Bonmarche, but all thoughts are 100% my own*
* Contains affiliate links*