Having a baby is one of the most magical experiences a woman can ever go through. However, once the baby is born, you might face particular challenges you never had before. That is completely normal, and you need to give yourself the time to adjust to your new reality and the way your body looks now. For some women, getting back in shape might be the easiest thing they have done, but it might take a bit longer for others. Don’t compare yourself to other moms—you are your own person and your experience is entirely different.
Because bouncing forward after having a baby can be difficult, here are the five best tools you can take advantage of:
Have Realistic Expectations
The best thing you can do is not rushing the process. This isn’t the time to be tough on yourself. Having a baby is already hard on its own, so you don’t need to layer-in unrealistic expectations that will increase your exhaustion, pain, and fear.
It will take time to get the excess weight off, and your body composition may look and feel different the whole way through. Because you had a baby, it is okay for your body not to look the same way it did nine months before. From personal experience, I can tell you it took me 18 months to lose the pregnancy weight after my first baby. To this day, I am still working to feel lean and strong after my second child’s birth.
Get in Your Steps
After giving birth, we feel like we must start working out hardcore to get back in shape. However, simple things like going for regular walks and getting in those 5–10,000 steps per day can be extremely beneficial.
In situations like this, it is not all or nothing. Every little step counts! The more you can start moving around—when you are not taking that necessary nap—the more you will see your body shifting.
Focus on Strength Training
Since you want to get in shape, you should focus on building as much muscle as possible to elevate your metabolism and lose fat. When you train, remember to work on your large muscle groups, such as your back, chest, core, legs, and glutes.
It will probably be hard for you to find the time to go to the gym with a baby, but remember, you can still work out from home. Simple bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, step-ups, push-ups, and supermans, can be helpful! You can even intensify your routines by using household objects as weights. I like to use laundry detergent for deadlifts or kettlebell swings or a heavy textbook for lunges and step-ups.
Slowly Monitor Your Food Intake
It is commonly thought that you need to seriously increase your caloric intake when you are breastfeeding. With this in mind, it is also common for women to consume more calories than they need to. There are different ways in which you can monitor your intake and remain healthy.
You can count your calories or monitor your portions. A great tip is to consume mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Eating sufficient protein and fat will help regulate your hormones and keep you satiated, which will help curb those cravings.
Ask for Help
The postpartum journey can be rough. At times, women tend to think they are alone in the struggle, making the process more painful. You do not have to be ashamed of feeling this way!
The best thing you can do is reach out to those around you and ask for help. You can join communities online and get support. This means carving out time to exercise, to take care of your mental health, or to take a nap when you need it.
Having a baby can take a toll on our bodies and our minds, but there are steps we can take to feel better and experience the postpartum journey more joyfully. With these five tools, you are guaranteed to move forward and start finding yourself again. Just remember you do not have to do everything alone.
–by Sonia Jhas