How to take care of the postpartum fitness and nutrition?
Having a baby is a lifetime achievement, your body has gone through hell and back during your pregnancy and it is necessary that you know how to prepare it for the next phase of your life.
Postpartum can be a tough time physically and emotionally, taking care of your body is a priority. Mainstream society often pushes the myth that one can and should get back into intense exercise after giving birth. This can be harmful to the systemic and orthopaedic health of the mother, it is more important to approach postpartum fitness with caution and guidance.
Vaginal prolapse, urinary incontinence, and diastasis recti, and various orthopaedic issues are risked during the 3 to 6-month period postpartum. Which is why safety training during this period is necessary.
Healing time should be prioritised, along with core and postural strengthening. The postpartum fitness period is a harbinger of the future, for long term health. It is important to know your body and let it heal.
Avoid running and jumping in the first four months, you will be able to do plenty of that in the future, perhaps more than you could pre-pregnancy! But this depends on how well you avoid and deal with pelvic floor issues, low back strains and other postpartum aches and pains.
Hormones like relaxin which is responsible for softening ligaments and joints during pregnancy and childbirth persists in the body and that causes ligament laxity, this leaves you susceptible to injuries.
OB/GYN Kameelah Phillips, MD says “If you are recovering from a C-section, I would defer a routine until after your first post-operative check. Confirm with your doctor that the skin is properly closed and that you are cleared for a walking routine.
Usually, it is recommended that you take ibuprofen before any return to activity because the uterus is still healing and can cause discomfort. Give your body a little time to heal and enjoy a leisurely walk.” This is imperative, as it is very common for women to experience diastasis, a separation of the abdominal muscles, or have issues with the pelvic floor.
Kegels or pelvic floor strengtheners are recommended for those who had an episiotomy to tighten these muscles and avoid problems. You can do this by lying on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tightening the muscles of your vagina and holding for 10 beats, and repeating 10 times, a few times a day can do wonders. Be careful not to contract your leg or abdominal muscles.
Push-ups are also a good way to engage the core and strengthen your upper body muscles. You can do this by being on all fours and doing half push-ups, by gently bending your elbows and then stretching them. Along with these exercises, you can engage in cardiovascular workouts, like brisk walking, working to increase the intensity or frequency.
If you are breastfeeding, hormones can slow down the healing process, hence strenuous exercise should not be done during this vulnerable period. Women are at risk of pelvic organ prolapse (internal organs start to descend into the vagina) and pelvic floor leaks. This is why you should get cleared by the doctor for initiating exercise and indulge in mild, low intensity and impact exercises.
It is also very important to know how to meet the body’s nutrition requirements, to boost your recovery and also provide your child with ample nutrients through breastfeeding. The nutrition intense diet from the prenatal stage of your pregnancy can be continued, increase your calorie intake.
Due to breastfeeding, it is estimated that you burn an extra 500 calories for the first 6 months. Undereating is a risk during this phase, especially considering how demanding looking after newborns can be. Preparing for meals and having healthy snacks available becomes important because of this.
The goal with postpartum nutrition is to replenish your nutrients, healing and nourishment for breastfeeding. Foods that can enhance recovery are soups, and stews made with bone broth. This has collagen-building amino acids, electrolytes, and many micronutrients.
Protein and iron-rich foods like liver, organ meats and slow-cooked meats are also helpful. Calorie rich and high-fat foods are mentioned before are important for your body, along with omega-3 fats which are found in seafood and eggs.
Snacks like granola bars, oatmeal, etc. are great and broth and herbal tea is good for you since nursing requires you to have plenty of fluids. Iodine rich food, cooked vegetables and well-cooked grains should be eaten along with fat and protein to give you enough energy to begin and live your life as an exuberant mother.
1. A healing period of 3-6 months should be granted for the body after giving birth.
2. Check up at 6 weeks, and signs of diastasis recti, vaginal prolapse, pelvic floor issues, etc.
3. Kegel exercises and half push-ups can be done, known intensive workout recommended under physician’s supervision.
4. Jumping and sprinting, and other high impact exercises to be avoided.