Springing Back Into Shape After Having a Baby

Mother in yoga pose balancing baby on her knees

The following is written by guest blogger, Mackenzie Fox.

What is the best thing about being a mom? Everything – the bond you’ll share with no other person, unconditional love, a feeling of purpose, and the purest joy there is. However, in the period after your baby arrives, you’ll experience a real rollercoaster of feelings: thrill, exhaustion, mood swings, and awkwardness wondering who that woman in the mirror is. It seems like nobody prepared you for these extreme emotional and physical changes and now you want your old self back.

Well, our society’s attitudes towards the postpartum period vary between two extremes. On one hand, we are bombarded with images of perfect, happy moms who got rid of the baby weight in seconds. They look like they stepped off the covers of a fashion magazine, making all average women feel miserable, wishing they had no mirrors in the house. On the other hand, there are opinions that women’s feelings and bodies always come second – as if their lives stop after childbirth.

In this case, as well as in many others, extreme attitudes are far from helpful. Therefore, we adopted a moderate and realistic approach. It’s perfectly natural and reasonable to balance the “selfish” need to get your old self back and refusal to give in to pressure to look like a supermodel. In the period after childbirth, there is no room for guilt and the loss of self-esteem – you only need a strong will and patience and everything will come into place.

Postpartum depression is probably one of the worst consequences of childbirth. Most mothers are afraid and reluctant to admit it, but statistics tell us that approximately 80 percent of women suffer from some form of postpartum emotional disorder. Fortunately, most of them are experiencing a shorter, not-so-serious emotional phase that’s called “baby blues”. It lasts only a week or two, and is accompanied by symptoms such as sadness, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and insomnia.

A small percentage of women suffer from a severe postpartum depression (PPD) and, more rarely, postpartum psychosis. Women undergo huge hormonal changes and this is one of the causes of all emotional disorders. It’s important to recognize the symptoms in time and get help as soon as possible. Regardless of the condition and its intensity, family support is extremely valuable at this time.

Compared to the aforementioned emotional troubles, physical change such as baby weight sounds like an insignificant problem. However, these changes sometimes lead to an altered self-image, discomfort, lack of self-esteem, and other negative feelings. There’s one good thing about it though – it’s up to women only whether they want to change that and feel good about themselves. This demands lots of adjustments and a strong drive, but with the help of these two, the goal is as good as accomplished!

As soon as your doctor gives permission, you can start with a postpartum workout program. It’s important to remember one thing – go easy with exercises and diets. Experts say that walking is one of the best ways to begin a workout routine and the most enjoyable one since you can do it with your baby. When you become ready for more challenging exercises, start doing exercises from the third trimester of pregnancy and then go backwards. Avoid running at all costs and include strength-building exercises to regain muscle tone.

Physical activities have a big role in removing the baby weight, but it’s a good idea to implement some light changes in diet as well. Avoid empty calories and junk food and eat diverse and nutrient-rich foods. Even without diets, women who breastfeed lose pounds rapidly.This is because women who breastfeed need extra calories (around 500 per day), but they burn between 600 and 800 calories a day. The luckiest women can get rid of the baby weight with the help of breastfeeding alone.

Getting a post-pregnancy body back in shape is far from easy, but it’s rewarding in so many ways. Regardless of the option you choose, don’t work yourself to exhaustion, take care of your mental and physical health and listen to your physician’s advice. Take it slow, save your energy and be patient – positive changes never come overnight. When they do, they will make you one fit and fully satisfied mom!

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