Our bodies truly are something else – able to grow a teeny human in just nine months. Once we’ve been pregnant things don’t always go back to where they were before. So, we enlisted the help of an expert to explain how to nourish and nurture our bodies after baby.
Sam Wood, founder of online training, nutrition and mind program 28 by Sam Wood, says there’s plenty we can do to help ease ourselves back into feeling strong and healthy once baby arrives.
The most important message I deliver to new mums trying to get back into shape is to be patient and listen to your body. Every pregnancy, everybody and every body is different. The last thing you want to do is feel rushed or pressured.
I loved seeing the smile on my wife Snez’s face when she finished a workout and how proud she was when she slowly but surely started to regain her strength. I strongly encourage all new mums to shift their focus to how they feel, not how they look.
Getting healthier and feeling stronger after bub
With that being said, there are definitely things that you can do to start feeling healthier, stronger and more energised after having a baby.
Here are my tips:
Ease back into exercise: Once you have been given the all-clear at your six-week check from your doctor you should be ok to introduce resistance exercise, focusing on the big muscle groups and core muscles. It is best to avoid high-impact movements early on but high-impact doesn’t necessarily mean low-intensity. You might not be able to do all the exercises you could do pre-baby but this doesn’t mean you can’t still complete a great workout. You’ll just have to make a few modifications. As your fitness increases, gradually increase the intensity and increase the volume.
Do what you can, when you can: As a new dad you quickly work out that babies don’t follow a schedule. So the key is to do what you can when you can. I remember that Snez would often only get halfway through one of her 28 workouts before Willow woke up and she would go back and finish it off later or get a walk in with Willow at some stage during the day.
Have healthy snacks on hand: This is such a critical and special time and you should focus on health and strength rather than weight loss. Especially if you are breastfeeding as your body requires a certain number of calories to feed both you and bub. It is often tempting to reach for quick options for an instant boost of energy when feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Not only these foods high in empty calories, but they also won’t give you long-lasting energy and often result in sugar crashes, leaving you more tired than before. Stock up on healthy, wholefood snacks so that you always have a nutritious option lying around.
Sleep: I know that some parents will roll their eyes at me as they read this but it really is so important. If you are sleep deprived, try and get some sleep while your baby sleeps. If you are running on the bare minimum, sleep should take precedence over a workout.
Stress less: Stress is another big one. Being a new mum can be a very new, strange and stressful experience for some. Don’t add extra pressure to yourself by feeling like you need to get into shape. Your health and strength are important but if it is at the detriment of your mental health it really is counter-intuitive. Stress has a negative impact on a number of different functions in the body, including weight regulation. There are so many great, free resources out there that can help you with this. I personally love the apps Headspace and Calm.
Tune into yourself: And again I will say this – listen to your body. If there are days where you just can’t face a workout, try and get out for a walk with your baby. Even if it’s just a lap of the block, you will feel better for the movement and the fresh air.