Top Tips A New Mom Should Know

The article was originally published in fitness magazine

Becoming a mom can cause all the feelings, positives like excitement, joy, and happiness, but also negative ones like frustration, sadness, loneliness, and so many more. Motherhood is a blessing, yet at the same time, it can also be a more challenging period than ever imagined. In this period, you are more vulnerable than ever, and your body and mind go through a lot. The point is, It’s okay to start feeling overwhelmed or not knowing what to do. 

Especially as a first-time mom, it’s almost impossible to foresee what to expect. You could still have a completely different experience even if you already have a child or children because every baby is as unique as every mom.

As a pre- and postnatal coach who has worked with many women, I collected the most helpful tips that every new mom should know.

How To Be A Perfect Mom

Many parents have high expectations of themselves. As we grow and age, we learn new things based on our surroundings. And we start building our opinions of what a perfect parent is supposed to do and what not. So we try to match this standard we set for ourselves when we become parents too. 

Whether we want it or not, we have that internal pressure put on us, and on top of it, an external pressure from our environment: family, friends, and society. You want to be your child’s best possible role model and be a perfect mom for her. But what is it, being a perfect mom? Is it possible at all?

The chances are that you won’t do everything perfectly, and that’s okay. It’s normal because you are a human being with your mistakes and only a limited amount of energy. Just like your baby tries new things and makes mistakes, so are you as a new mom. Trying to understand that no one is perfect and the best you can do is to be present for your child is the best way you can help you reduce that common “mom-guilt” feeling. 

What To Eat After Having A Baby

A diet after childbirth is one of the most contradictory topics among new moms. While many moms want to bounce back to the body they had before pregnancy, it’s not always clear how much they should eat, what kind of foods influences the baby, and whether or not they can aim for weight loss at all, especially when breastfeeding.

Not only people around a new mom may give her different advice, like family and friends, her mom, or even a random neighbor. Recommendations from various doctors and official bodies slightly differ too. No wonder it’s so confusing!

I want to give you a perspective on the main recommendations so that you can decide what works best for you and your baby.

Looking at the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA (CDC), the National Health Service in England (NHS), the European Institute of Breastfeeding And Lactation, or Australian experts, we can see the same trend. All of them recommend eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods. And most of them even encourage new moms to manage their weight postpartum with a healthy diet and physical exercise.

Even if you breastfeed, there is nothing against moderate weight loss, with the recommendations ranging from 0.5 to 1 kg weight loss per week. You might not even need any adjustments to your healthy diet, and continue eating just like before and still lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. This is because of breastfeeding since milk production costs about 300 to 500 extra kcal per day to a female’s body. That’s why it’s often said that breastfeeding helps you get rid of excess weight faster.

There are not even foods you should avoid, regardless of what some cultural traditions may state. There is, however, recommended to limit caffeine intake to about 300 mg, which is about 2-3 cups of coffee, alcohol intake, and consumption of fish high in mercury.

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

These recommendations are, however, for a breastfeeding mom. Women who don’t breastfeed don’t have any food limitations and are just recommended to eat a healthy diet with various nutritious foods.

When To Start Working Out After A Childbirth

The common mistake of new moms is thinking that they can just start easy with exercise and slowly progress without needing a specialized recovery. Especially if they don’t have any symptoms like urinal or bowel leakage, heaviness, or pain in the pelvic region, it’s easy to think that they can just return to their training routine.

In practice, it’s not as simple. Just imagine what your body goes through! It starts in pregnancy with the dramatic hormonal changes, growing belly and stretching of your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, and changes in your breathing pattern and posture. Unless you had a planned C-section or other exceptions, after pregnancy comes labor which is indeed hard labor for your body. And finally, the delivery of your baby either spontaneously through a vaginal canal or per c-section. Both types of delivery put a significant toll on your body: a spontaneous birth could lead to tears, stretches, or other injuries in your pelvic floor, while a c-section is major abdominal surgery.

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

In most cases, you can start with simple breathing exercises in the first days postpartum. 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 at 6 or 8 weeks appointment postpartum, it doesn’t mean you can go all-in to the previous workouts. The recovery can take months and even years! The faster you restore your body’s normal function and learn how to manage intraabdominal pressure, the faster you can return to your training routine. 

Why You Need Postpartum Recovery

The first step should always be a proper postpartum recovery regardless of how fit you are or were before pregnancy. As I mentioned above, your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and afterward. Hormonal changes, growing belly, stretched out abdominal wall resulting in diastasis recti, stretched pelvic floor muscles, changes in your posture and breathing pattern. And after the birth? Rapid hormonal changes again take a toll on your body physically and mentally.

Postpartum recovery is meant to recover the normal function of your body and all the tissues involved in childbirth that might have been injured. Just like you need rehab after knee surgery, you need one after childbirth. This is not even an option! In the case of a c-section, you are literally going through a major abdominal surgery, and you need adequate care and rehab after that too.

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

By completing the recovery postpartum, you ensure that you can return to working out safely and not having or tremendously reducing all the unwanted symptoms you might have now or in the future.

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 the most challenging times, and recovery takes its time. For example, after the birth of my son, I had some complications and was left incredibly weak after that. Just standing upright or walking for 15 minutes took me at least a couple of weeks. My situation was rather an exception, but it’s still common. 

Add to it all the hormonal changes your body goes through again and a newborn who cries and needs you 24/7. It’s tough! Know that feeling not okay is okay during such a 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’s essential to diagnose it early.

If something feels off, just a little bit, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Better to be safe than sorry! For emotional support, you can speak to a friend or a family member you trust, but there is also no shame in speaking to a mental health provider. If you have any physical symptoms or pains, talk to your OB-GYN or primary health provider. They might refer you to a pelvic floor physiotherapist or any other health provider you might need to consult.

It’s also beneficial to work with a coach who specializes in postpartum recovery, regularly works with expecting and new mothers, and 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.

Elena Biedert

Elena Biedert is an award-winning and globally recognized pre- and postnatal coach, internationally published author and model. Driven by her son’s traumatic birth with an unexpected c-section that almost took her life, Elena founded "Mama Fitness Coaching“ to support other mothers. With a holistic approach, Elena focuses on helping new mothers recover and reach their fitness goals post-pregnancy so that they can feel confident and strong without sacrificing important time with their loved ones.

March 7, 2024

Elena Biedert

Elena Biedert is an award-winning and globally recognized pre- and postnatal coach, internationally published author and model. Driven by her son’s traumatic birth with an unexpected c-section that almost took her life, Elena founded "Mama Fitness Coaching“ to support other mothers. With a holistic approach, Elena focuses on helping new mothers recover and reach their fitness goals post-pregnancy so that they can feel confident and strong without sacrificing important time with their loved ones.

March 7, 2024

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