Here are some important reminders about postpartum health for new moms.
After all those months you spent focusing on a healthy pregnancy, your baby has finally arrived. Congratulations! Although your baby is here, it is still important that you focus on your own health postpartum. Your body is going through many physical and emotional changes as it maintains a milk supply, copes with fewer hours of sleep, returns to a pre-pregnancy state and regulates hormone levels. Here are some important tips to keep in mind while you manage the very important business of raising a new baby.
Don't forget about you. While you may be 100% focused on feeding and caring for your new baby, don't forget about your needs, also. Make time to eat, shower and sleep. We know this can be a challenge at times so accept help whenever it is available. Don't forget that the better you feel, the easier it will be to care for your baby.
Your diet still matters. If you are breastfeeding, make sure your diet has about 1800-2200 (or more) calories a day to maintain a healthy milk supply. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, that translates into about 300-500 additional calories to your pre-pregnancy diet. Be sure to make those calories count by eating nutritional fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains. Don't forget, a healthy diet will give you additional energy, too!
Pay attention to your emotions. You just had a baby and your life has changed significantly, so be easy on yourself. You are not expected to know how to do everything right away, and feeling overwhelmed is very normal. Hormone shifts and outside variables such as lack of sleep can affect your emotions greatly, too. Pay careful attention to how you are feeling. Potentially, as many as 20% of new mothers experience some type of postpartum depression. Please talk to your doctor if you:
- Feel sad, hopeless and overwhelmed
- Have no motivation to do anything or interest in things that usually make you happy
- Have lost interest in your baby or have thoughts of harming your baby
Warm up to exercise. Talk to your physician about when you can begin a normal exercise routine again. Women who were previously physically active and have given birth vaginally may be able to begin exercising very soon after delivery. Even a quick 10-minute walk every day can benefit a new mother. Exercise has a number of benefits including:
- Increases overall fitness and health
- Tones muscles, including the abdomen
- Increases energy levels
- Lowers the risk of postpartum depression and stress levels
To learn more about the benefits of postpartum fitness, visit our online Health Library here.