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I’m no postpartum expert (I mean, I’ve only done this twice) but I’ve learned a thing or two after the birth of my babes. The first time was like, “ummm what the h*#^ is going on?!” The second was more, “I got this…I think?” Through my trial and error experiences, I’ve concluded 5 essential postpartum health tips EVERY new momma needs. And hey, if I have a third, then I’ll totally be an expert, right?!
5 Essential Postpartum Health Tips
#1. Eat nutrient-dense foods
Seems like a no-brainer, but during those first few months with a new baby, it can be difficult to prep food, plan meals, and eat nutrient-dense snacks. But I assure you, reaching for those sugary granola bars and tortilla chips when you’re starving and need to fuel quickly will only lead to sugar and carb crashes later. Instead, choose foods that are just as quick and easy, but pack more of a nutrient punch than processed snacks. Snack on a sweet potato after microwaving for a few minutes, slice up a cucumber and dip it in salsa, throw a variety of nuts and dried fruit in a bag for easy trail mix when you’re in a bind, or have a stash of deli meat and hard boiled eggs in your refrigerator for quick, healthy snacks.
An easy way to get some good-for-you foods in your system is starting at the beginning of the day. Add some sautéed chard to your eggs, try adding spinach to your smoothies, or sweeten your oatmeal naturally with fresh or dried fruit. If need be, buy healthier packaged snacks like grassfed beef sticks, squeezable nut butter packets, coconut chips, or nutrition bars (just read your labels).
Eating right is important for ALL postpartum moms, breastfeeding or not! Looking for more nutrient dense recipes? Check out this lemon butter sautéed kale with garlic, caramelized onion butternut squash crustless quiche, or this potato and fennel baked chicken.
#2. Beat the anxiety
Postpartum hormones are rough. I found myself way more emotional after birth than during my pregnancies. Anxiety can be an overwhelming emotion when caring for a new baby – sometimes it’s explainable, and sometimes it’s not!
After the birth of my first son, I felt frazzled and anxious almost every day. It came in waves, but there were times while driving in the car my mind would start to race and I’d feel the anxiety building – so intensely that I remember thinking, “I shouldn’t even be on the road right now”. Later, a blood work panel revealed I was extremely low in vitamin D (even though I ate the right foods and got plenty of sun). Once I started taking a vitamin D supplement, the curtain of anxiousness lifted and I felt like a new me. Less stressed and less overwhelmed.
Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to postpartum depression, the inability to think clearly, mood swings, and fatigue.
And now after the birth of my second, I haven’t experienced the anxiety that I did with my first, despite even more overwhelming circumstances (the craziness of a toddler AND a newborn). I can’t say for certain if that’s completely due to my vitamin D levels, but based on my experience, taking a vitamin D supplement has definitely has helped!
I’m also taking biotin in an effort to combat that awful postpartum hair loss. My locks are thin as it is, and my mane seemingly never grew back fully after the birth of my first child. Jury’s still out, but so far I haven’t experienced nearly the loss of hair this time around. We’ll see!! Fingers crossed.
#3. Give your adrenals some love
After having a baby, your hormones are ALL out of whack – at least mine were! Not only was I anxious after my first, I was TIRED. Not the kind of tired from lack of sleep, but bone tired ALL THE TIME. The kind of exhaustion that makes first trimester of pregnancy look like a walk in the park. Even when my son started sleeping through the night and I got adequate rest (8+ hours), it wasn’t long into the morning that I was barely able to function from exhaustion. My adrenal glands had taken a serious beating, and no matter what I did, I was always so.dang.tired.
I finally went to a physician to get a full blood work panel to see WHAT the heck was going on, or if I was suffering from hypothyroidism. It wasn’t long after I get my test results back, that I became pregnant with my second baby – more hormone roller coasters!
This time around, not only was I diligent about taking vitamin D supplements for my anxiety, and biotin for my postpartum hair loss, I started using youthoery® Maca Root for my adrenal health that I purchased at Costco.com.
Maca powder has been shown to balance normal hormone production, reduce stress hormones, and help with that awful adrenal fatigue SO common after pregnancy but often missed (or not recognized) by doctors. Maca root possesses nutrients to help balance the body’s endocrine system (aka those hormones we all love and hate).
Since adding maca powder to my morning coffee, I’ve noticed an increase in my energy. I have no medical backing to my claims (only my personal experience), but I definitely feel like I am less fatigued and better able to handle these crazy days since adding this superfood to my diet. Maca is a root vegetable (commonly known as Peruvian Ginseng) used for centuries for nutritional and health purposes like increasing energy, hormone balancing, sexual functioning, PMS relief, and menopause relief. And Youtheory’s Maca Powder is dairy-free, soy-free, and does not contain gluten ingredients.
Please note: these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Maca is all the rage, and it’s easy to understand why! I will absolutely continue to take this supplement to give my up-and-down hormones some much needed love and do whatever I can to keep my energy levels up when two little people need me the most.
#4. Resume light workouts
For many women, workouts can be a stress reliever, especially with the anxiety that comes with a crying baby. Resuming activity directly after birth doesn’t have to be a full on gym sweat session (nor should it be). But doing a little light activity every day can not only help you ‘bounce back’ after baby, it will relieve stress and release those feel good endorphins – helping you stay calm during the times of frenzy.
Some ways to work out post-baby could be taking long walks with your baby in a carrier or stroller, sneaking away to a barre class or continuing prenatal yoga. Or maybe it’s a light weight lifting session at home like this one. Just be sure to take it easy and be mindful if you suffer from diastasis recti (ab separation from pregnancy). If you DO have diastasis recti, there are a few exercises you can do postpartum to help heal your weak core. Just click this post on healing diastasis recti.
#5. Don’t forget self care
DO THIS. Don’t even think twice about skipping this point ladies! Self care helps you be a better mom and gives you a much needed break when times get tough. Maybe it’s getting a monthly massage membership, maybe it’s taking a long walk and listening to an audiobook. Whatever you can manage to do with your time and your budget, it’s necessary!
Some ideas (from big to small) include:
- taking a bath – lights off, a fragrant bath bomb, and wine!
- getting a pedicure or facial (or massage – my favorite)
- drinking hot tea with a warm rice bag around those baby-holding shoulders
- going shopping ALONE, even just to wander the aisles
- grabbing a latte at a coffee shop and reading/Pinteresting/texting your girlfriends
- jogging at sunrise/sunset (if you have been cleared to workout)
- asking a friend/family member to do your laundry
- diffusing an essential oil blend that lifts your spirits
- finding a specialty smoothie shop and treating yourself to a cool smoothie and long walk
Mental wellbeing and feeling like ‘yourself’ again is just as important as physical health! It’s not selfish or a waste of time to focus on YOU. The dishes and vacuuming can wait!
So there you have it. My 5 essential postpartum health tips. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear some other helpful tips from experienced healthy mommas!