Taking care of yourself after the baby comes will help you gain control and reduce stress

It’s important to take care of yourself after having a baby.

The birth of a baby will bring about major changes to not only your lifestyle, but your body. Paying attention to and taking care of your body will help you feel more in control and alleviate some of the stress that is sure to come along with so many life changes. Michigan State University Extension reminds new parents that in addition to body and life changes, it also includes work of taking care of a newborn. It’s important to talk to your physician about your diet and exercise before and after your six-week postpartum check-up to ensure that you are optimizing your chances for healing, becoming stronger and being more in control than ever.

Here are three easy ways for a new mom to stay healthy and in control:

  1. Be active. Take a short walk with your baby at the park, in the mall or in your own neighborhood. Experts recommend 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week for maximum benefit and weight reduction. This may not be recommended prior to your six-week post-partum check-up, but after that, it can be increased (Mueller, 2011).
  2. Take naps whenever your baby naps. Although the exercise you’re getting will help boost your energy levels, it’s important to rest during the day since babies are often awake every few hours for feeding, even throughout the night.
  3. Breastfeed. Numerous studies show that breast milk is better for babies than formula. Breastfed babies may score better on IQ tests, have healthier weight and are healthier overall, even into adulthood. The health and nutritional benefits aren’t just for baby, though.  Studies show that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for moms. As if this weren’t enough of a motivator, breastfeeding can burn up to 600 extra calories a day and most breastfeeding moms report weight loss 3- 12 months postpartum. (Medela, 2013). 
  4. Eat nutritiously. Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day. Research proves that eating five servings of fruits and vegetable a day can help prevent heart disease and some cancers. Choose fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables at a fruit market instead of the grocery store for significant savings (US Department of Health, 2011).

New moms may be anxious to get “their old bodies” back, but it’s important not to rush it! Above all else, take time to relax and enjoy your baby. Rest and pamper yourself as much as possible. If you look after yourself by eating healthy, breastfeeding and keeping up with some gentle exercise, the weight will come off over time!

For more information on this and related topics, visit Michigan State University Extension.

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