We all know that it can take a while to feel like yourself again after nine months of pregnancy, plus labor and delivery! And for first-time moms, getting back to feeling good can be even harder. In fact, this period is sometimes called the “fourth trimester” because of all the changes your body goes through, even after your baby is born!1 No matter how much advice you got ahead of time or how many articles you’ve read, the changes to your body and your energy level are hard to predict. Whether this was your first baby or you’re a pregnancy pro, there are some simple steps you can take to feel your best post-pregnancy.
6 Post-Pregnancy Tips to Help You Feel Your Best
1. Stock up on Supplies…For You
You’ve probably received loads of gifts for your new baby, which is great! But what about supplies for you?
At least three weeks before your due date, stock up on supplies that will help you get through the fourth trimester. You can ask other moms what helped them, but here are some good ideas that will help ease post-delivery soreness and discomfort. It’s good to be prepared:
- Adult diapers (not fun, but seriously very helpful if you have some unexpected incontinence post-delivery)
- Topical numbing spray for soreness around your perineum
- A sitz bath, a warm therapeutic bath to soothe the area around the perineum using a special washbasin or your bathtub
- An inflatable donut helps take pressure off your sore muscles and to heal skin post-pregnancy
- A heating pad
2. The Secret to Sleep
It’s no secret: newborn babies need feedings and diaper changes every few hours, even during the night. All that nighttime baby care can leave you feeling extra-fatigued during the day.
To maximize your rest time and reduce drowsiness, the age-old advice from experienced moms and experts alike is to sleep when your baby sleeps. That means stealing some zzz’s at night and during their naps throughout the day.
Sure, it’s good advice, but it can be so hard to follow! You finally get your baby down and you have just a little time for yourself. We know you’d rather be scrolling through Instagram, calling a friend to catch up, or even getting that overdue load of laundry done, instead of wasting time sleeping.
We so get that. But of course, you already know that your body and your mind will function a lot better if you can get some sleep. So try to strike a balance. When your baby goes down, give yourself 15 minutes of me time to do whatever you want. Then make yourself go lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room. You’ll feel so much better in the long run if you do something just for you (or get after that chore that’s been driving you crazy!) AND also get a little more sleep. Try to sneak in at least one 30- to 45-minute nap per day if you can!
If you have trouble resting when it’s light out, try these tips. Keep your bedroom cool and dark with thick curtains or blinds. Sleep with an eye mask for total darkness.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Diet
Sleep deprivation can leave you craving sugary and calorie-rich foods2 that give you a quick, but temporary, energy boost. We know it’s tempting, but try not to go wild with sweet snacks and empty carbs. Healthier foods not only help fuel your body as it recovers, but low-sugar, high-protein foods also will help maintain your energy levels for longer during the day.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s OK to indulge in some comfort foods and treats now and then. But also try to eat a balanced diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. Eat small, nutritious meals every couple of hours, even if you don’t have much of an appetite. Also, drink plenty of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Keep a large reusable water bottle at your side and take sips whenever you can.
4. Easy Meal Prep
If you’re trying to follow tip #3 on this list, we know how hard it can be! Yes, home-cooked meals are usually healthier than packaged foods or carry-out. But we all know it’s tough for new parents to find time to cook.
The trick is to try to plan ahead and meal prep where you can. Cook a large batch of a healthy meal on the weekend so you have meals ready for the week. Use a slow cooker if you have one. Slow cookers usually make it easier to make big portions of real meals ahead of time.
Snack a little smarter by keeping small baggies of healthy snacks on hand. Then you’ll always have a nutritious item to munch on when hunger strikes, and grab one of the baggies to take in your bag when you run errands. This will help you avoid turning to fast food or unhealthy snacks when you get peckish while you’re out and about.
5. Take a Vitamin
With so much going on, it can be easy to forget to eat properly. And even if you do eat healthy, you may want to ask your doctor about taking a daily multivitamin for extra nutritional support. Think of taking vitamins or supplements as a way to help you get the nutrients you need to feel your best right now.
Ask your doctor if you should be taking a dietary supplement like vitafusion Women’s Multivitamin to give you the vitamins and minerals that’ll support your body and help you feel your best.*
6. Ease Back Into an Exercise Routine
When you’re exhausted from late night feedings, exercise is usually the last thing you want to do. But it can help! Not only can exercise help you get back to feeling fit and strong, but it also helps boost feel-good hormones like serotonin that can improve your mood.3 Exercise also helps maintain your energy levels. And new moms need all the energy they can get! According to researchers at the University of Georgia, exercising at a low intensity for 20 minutes, three times a week, can reduce feelings of fatigue by 65%.4 That’s huge!
Before you jump back into a workout routine, definitely ask your doctor when it’s OK to start exercising again. He or she may have specific tips to help you get back into working out safely. And they may advise you to start slow, especially if you’re still recovering from labor and delivery. Consult your doc!
Hint: once you’re okayed to exercise, remember that you can get a workout without booking a babysitter or joining a gym. Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood for 20 minutes with your baby and stroller. Leave your baby with your partner and go on a short jog around your neighborhood. During naptime or tummy time, do a quick workout video on YouTube or put on your favorite song and have a 15-minute dance session in the living room. Whatever works for you. Anything you can do to stay active will help you get back into a healthy routine!
We love sharing our insights about vitamins and health. But that doesn’t mean it should be a substitute for professional medical advice. For that, you should talk to your doctor!
1 Caron, C. “A Survival Guide for the Fourth Trimester.” The New York Times. July 11, 2018. (www.nytimes.com)
2 Greer, SM, et al; Nat Commun, 2013.
3 Korb, A. “Boosting Your Serotonin Activity.” Psychology Today. Nov. 17, 2011.
4 Puetz, TW, et al; Psychother Psychosom, 2008.