Postpartum: Getting back to yourself
So you’ve gone through labor, had your beautiful bouncing baby, and now you’re a
mom…maybe for the second or third time! Even if this isn’t your first baby, it’s easy
to forget what postpartum looks like. You’ll probably find yourself wondering when
your baby’s cord is going to fall off, how much he or she should be sleeping, eating,
and pooping…it’s really an endless list! And you’ll probably also be wondering when
you’ll recover. Whether you had a doctor or a midwife for your delivery, he/she will
have given you a few things to look out for in the weeks following childbirth: a
decrease in pain, bleeding, breast engorgement (ouch), and scar healing if you’ve
had a C-section...it’s a lot to think about in addition to caring for your newborn.
Chances are, you’ve probably also started to wonder when you’ll get your pre-baby
body back. Should I be dieting? Will my milk supply decrease if I cut calories? Aren’t I
burning calories while breastfeeding? Am I still “eating for two”?
Let’s take a look at 5 guidelines I give my postpartum clients.
1. You should have a healthy diet already. The nutrients you take in affect
the nutritional content of your milk. It’s not a case of what goes in your
mouth goes straight to your milk, but essentially your body will use your
food and drink to feed your baby. So, think twice about what you’re eating at
and in between meal times. Additionally, you should be drinking lots of water
to keep up your milk supply and hydration.
2. You should not actively diet until your baby is two months old.
According to lactation consultatnt Kelly Bonyata of Kellymom.com, it takes
about two months to establish a healthy milk supply, so any serious calorie
cutting should wait until then. She describes a healthy daily intake of 1500-
1800 calories for new moms. Nursing mothers really should be at the high
end of this recommendation. You are burning an additional [average of] 200-
500 calories whilst breastfeeding, so keep that in mind.
3. Don’t scrimp on the fat. Breastmilk has an average of 1.2 grams of fat per
ounce. This is more than cow milk and infant formula. There are many
different types of fats obtained from milk and there are also fatty acids that
must be obtained from elsewhere. Essential fatty acids such as EPA and DHA
are called essential because they cannot be produced by the body and must
be obtained through diet and supplementation. DHA is primarily used for
brain development in the third trimester of pregnancy and after birth, your
baby will obtain DHA from your breastmilk. Fish oil is one popular source of
DHA, but there is concern about the source of the fish and therein its purity
and safety for the breastfeeding mother. The Baby Booster uses a vegetarian
source for the DHA contained in its protein (life’sDHA), so you get the best
of both worlds!
4. A calorie is not just a calorie. Your 1800 calories should be quality. I won’t
get into the boring details, but you should be including approximately 1 gram
of protein per pound of body weight (e.g. if you weigh 135 lbs, you should eat
about 135 grams of protein per day). If you’re not into counting macros, an
egg is about 6 grams of protein and a chicken breast is about 30 grams of
protein. Chances are, you’re way under your protein intake. Adding in a
clean protein supplement is definitely a great option here. Baby Booster
Protein is formulated specifically for pregnant and nursing mothers—talk
about a no-brainer! Each serving of Baby Booster contains 20 grams of
protein, and they recommend 2-3 shakes per day. That’s 60 grams of protein
done and dusted!
5. When you are ready, get back to working out (slowly). First, ask yourself
a few questions. Has my pain virtually disappeared? Has my bleeding stopped?
Have I gotten the go-ahead from my doctor? Do I have enough energy (AKA do I
get enough sleep?) to get back to working out? Yes, getting back to the gym
will help to get you back in shape through burning calories and building
muscle. HOWEVER, ensure you spend the first 4-6 weeks completing some
proper postpartum core and pelvic floor rehabilitative exercise before going
back to any running, jumping, lifting, etc. Find a trainer or physical therapist
who specializes in postnatal health to give you a great jumpstart to recovery.
Nora Matthew is a personal trainer specializing in pre & post natal fitness. She runs
pregnancy fitness classes in Albany, New York, and trains clients all over the world via
her online coaching programs at www.pregnafit.com.