Advice sounds too formal. I’m not a medical professional or a doctor of any sort. I’m just a person who has been there a couple of times before. I know personally how chaotic everything is after having a baby; your body, your life, and your emotions are all going through some major changes. It requires a lot of patience to reel yourself back in, and can cause a lot of stress. Here are the suggestions I give friends who are trying to get it together after giving life.
See someone for physical assistance on a regular basis.
It really helps to have someone looks at the structures of your body and give you specifics steps you can take to help remedy it. A physical therapist, a masseuse, and/or a chiropractor all take a deep dive into different aspects of your structure. In a perfect world, you would be able to see all three. However, in the real world that might not be possible. I personally thought seeing a physical therapist embodied a little bit of everything I needed postpartum, but you might feel differently for your body. Many people view these therapies as luxuries or for emergencies only, but they are medical therapies that are there for your everyday issues. Especially when recovering postpartum. You can talk to your primary care physician and insurance to see what you have covered as well.
I would also recommend seeing someone for your feet and shoes. Not necessarily a pedicure situation, though they do have their own set of benefits. I’m referring to a pedorthist - a specialist in footwear modifications - who can look at your gait and recommend the right shoes or insoles for you. While you don’t need to see a pedorthist regularly per se, it is beneficial to revisit as your body continues to change. Your feet are the root to your body support, and many lower body issues can be remedied with proper foot care.
Less stress, not less weight
It takes your hormones roughly 3-12 months to go back to prenatal levels, including cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that elevates drastically during pregnancy, which is also linked to gut health and weight management. It can be attributed to gaining weight and to holding on to weight, especially in the lower belly region. Stressing yourself out over your body is going to be counteractive if stress is the reason your body is holding the weight.
After my daughter, my second child, was born I did not see significant weight loss until a year after she was born, after roughly eight months of changing my diet and eating habits. Forcing yourself into a specific diet doesn’t allow yourself the space to listen to what your body needs. Your body will tell you what you and your baby, if breastfed, need. I tell all my friends to be patient and give your body 6-8 months to recoup, and then make any changes needed from there. (See my blogs “Mind Your Mindset and Food As Fuel for more.)
Movement Doesn’t Have to Mean Workout
If you were a regular at the gym before, do your thing and go back once your doctors say you’re ready! If working out was not your thing, but you want to add some kind of exercise to your routine, then this is for you. Remember than any movement is better than no movement, and keep in mind all of the extra movement you’re adding naturally. Those car seats are no joke! Start adding proper weight lifting forms into daily movements. First of all, its safer for your body. Secondly, you still get the same effects as in the gym; your body still goes through the same process whether you’re deadlifting a barbell or a car seat with a baby in it.
Don’t worry about having this hour long, Instagram-able workout if you don’t have a solid hour in the day to work out. Instead, get it in where you can. You hear all these different amounts of times recommended for daily movement, whether it be 20 minutes or two hours. My philosophy is anything is better than nothing. If the best you could do that day was 5 squats before the shower and jumping jacks while a bottle warms up, then that’s all you need. Ankle weights are your friend too. Throw them on while doing chores, and you hardly notice the extra weight. These little movements build on themselves too!
Movement encompasses so much more than your traditional workout exercises. Dancing, golfing, practicing sports, walking. These are all different forms of movement! Anything that gets your body moving and your heart rate elevated. There was a month or so recently where my only exercise was dancing around while getting ready for work. I expected myself to have gained weight, but i remained consistent. Circle back to point two, we are adding any extra stress so have fun with it!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race of weight loss you see on social media, but its healthier to let your body heal in its own time. Pregnancy and birth are so much on you. Be patient with your body, be gentle with yourself.