I am often asked how I got my body back so quickly after having a baby. The answer is, I didn’t. At least, not by “my” standards. Yes, I did drop a lot of weight, and yes, comparatively I may look good. But we are all our own worst critic, and I won’t be content until I look as good if not better than I looked pre-baby.
So yeah, we all have impossible standards to live up to. Besides the pressure to be the perfect mom, we also must have the perfect mom body. That’s the subject of another blog though.
As for you, being x many weeks or months post baby, you want to, no make that need to know, what is the secret. What book or post or juice didn’t you know about that made the difference.
I will start with genetics. That mom who posed in a sports bra telling all other moms, what’s your excuse? Well my response to her was, well first, we are both blessed with good genetics. You just can’t change that. Genetics are what they are, and my body is naturally lean. So what’s a new mom to do? Here are my Top 10 Tricks and Tips to Getting Your Body Back, After Baby.
1. The first trick is to be careful with your weight gain during pregnancy. Now this isn’t to say that you need to be unhealthy while pregnant. My first pregnancy I gained MORE than the recommended 25-35 pounds, because I started out underweight. At my first appointment, my OB looked at me, and told me very matter of factly, that I would need to gain more weight because I was starting out a bit too skinny. Note this was not my choice to be that skinny. Yes I had just gotten married, but 1.5 months before that I had major surgery. So I was a bit too skinny, and I gained about 38 pounds while pregnant. Try your absolute best to stay in the 25-35 pound weight gain, and you will start the post-baby weight loss process ahead of the game.
2. Once you have your baby, you have to stop eating like you are pregnant. The problem is, you develop routines. During pregnancy, especially at the end, you were tired, your body was uncomfortable, you probably were not doing much, and yes, you were hungry. You ate a lot, and you stopped eating as well as you may have earlier on. You may have indulged, eaten as much as your husband, stopped by a few Brazilian Steakhouses (I did!) and eaten dessert every day. That’s okay. While you are pregnant that is. Once the baby arrives, you have to consciously make the choice to eat differently.
Of course, the first few days are a blur, and you are hungry. Very hungry. Labor is hard work, and you need to replenish your body, and nourish yourself to produce breastmilk and regain your strength. That’s all well and good. However, you don’t need to eat the same amount of food anymore, and you definitely don’t need to succumb to the same food cravings. Want chips? Eat some, but not the bag. Maybe save dessert for every other day.
3. Start your day with a smoothie with protein powder. One of the hardest parts about being a new mom is eating enough food. I remember very clearly when I had my first baby, I would often look up, and it would be 3 pm and I had barely eaten anything. You may think this is great for getting that post baby body, but you are wrong. You need sustenance to produce milk, and you want to build muscle while burning fat. You are likely sleep deprived, moody, and a bit all over the place. I mean, who loves spending all day not going outside, doing three loads of laundry that never gets put away, with a body that is not washed and covered in spit up and spilled milk? Not eating will only lead to increased crankiness, make your lack of sleep worse, less able to care for your baby, and make any postpartum significantly worse. So eat!
That’s easier said then done. There is a baby who you must attend to, after all! So do yourself a favor, and invest in good protein powder (I recommend a pea or brown rice based protein powder like Sun Warrior). Each morning, make a smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit, add in some fresh spinach, kale, or any other greens you may have, and add in a big scoop of protein powder. It will keep you full until the afternoon, give you energy, and lots of nutrients. Best, it gives you the building blocks you need to make muscle.
But you say, why do I need protein, when I am not working out? Well, taking care of a baby IS a workout! Lifting baby (arms raises and dead lifts), walking them around a room while doing that new mom bouncy motion (squats), carrying baby (shoulder workout) are all challenging your muscles.
I remember when I once touched my thigh a month after having my son, and being shocked to feel a good size muscle. While I normally love to work out, it always takes a back burner for me when I am pregnant. But I realized, all of the lifting of my son were constant squats throughout the day, creating leg muscles! What does your body need to build muscle? You guessed it…protein and amino acids!
4. Elevator Kegels. These are the best kept secret amongst moms, and the simplest thing you can do that will really make a difference to your midsection. These kegels are not the traditional squeeze and hold. Rather, you squeeze, and then you raise your uterus area and hold for a few counts. Raise it again, kind of like you are lifting it up to stop at the next “floor” level, much as an elevator works. When you reach the “top” of what you can do, hold for 10, and push the elevator down. After a few counts, start again. You can do these throughout the day, but do at least ten per day. If you do them in a mirror, you should be able to see your inner abs engage and get a good workout, with no crunches or workout attire even required! Best, you can do this while driving, nursing, etc. Do it after your shower, before bed, whenever you want. Not only is it great for your reproductive health and delivery, it will engage your abs and create strength in an area that is very difficult to workout while pregnant.
These are my #1 secret, and trust me, elevator kegels will be your best friend. Just do them! NOW!
5. Drink a lot of water. Water flushes out your system. It may sound crazy to think drinking water will help your body relieve itself of bloat, but it does. We all know that look that pregnant women get towards the end of pregnancy, swollen ankles, swollen everything. Drinking water helps flush that from your system, helps the increased blood volume leave your body and more.
6. Belly Bandit. Speaking of things leaving your body after baby, the number one thing I wanted to off my body was the extra skin in my midsection. I remember one piece of advice I got when pregnant with my son, just don’t look down after you get to your room and take your shower post-delivery. Because you will be sad.
The Belly Bandit is a post-pregnancy compression wrap that helps support your now exposed and sensitive mid-section that has now been deflated and missing the baby it was carrying for nine months. Your body just feels strange in those first few days, like something is missing! I loved having a supportive and tight wrap in that area, especially as my uterus contracted down to size while breastfeeding.
It also helps make sure you don’t slouch while breastfeeding (because you can actually feel when you are not sitting up straight, which can lead to headaches and upper back pain), and it encourages the fluids to drain from your tummy area too.
Size yourself around week 37. Pack the Belly Bandit in your hospital bag. I could not put it on right when I got to my room this time, as I had a wet spinal tap (more on that later), so I wore the Mother Tucker for support and as my nursing top instead for a few days. As soon as I could, I put on the Belly Bandit. Wear it as much during the day, AND night while sleeping, as possible. Each day, try to pull it a bit tighter and tighter. Lay down on your bed to tighten, and you may even need to size down. I started with a small and ended up in an extra-small. Wear it for 6-8 weeks post baby. TRUST ME, you will thank me 🙂
7. Mama Mio. Before you put on your Belly Bandit everyday, make sure you apply Mama Mio Tummy Rub Oil and/or Butter. I used it religiously twice a day while pregnant (I switched off between the butter and oil. I liked the oil better while pregnant and immediately post-baby, now 11 weeks post-baby I prefer the butter).
This makes sure your skin is nice and hydrated and stays strong and supple during your pregnancy. Your skin will stretch, a LOT, and you want to make sure it is in the best condition possible.
Now for a real secret. Mio makes a product called Get Waisted, which helps create a flatter, less wobbly mid-section. LOVE! Apply it twice a day and rub it in circles. Note: I would be careful about how much you want to “shrink” you mid-section if you want to have more babies.
The reason being, your skin can only stretch and grow for so long until the elasticity wears out and you get stretch marks. If you did not get stretch marks in your first pregnancy, you can get them in subsequent ones. So be careful about how much you do to really make your stomach area flat while losing all of that skin. Now you can make it taut, but a little ab fat might actually be skin (since skin IS a fat). And you want skin there to stretch to cover your next baby bump. Does that make sense?
I never went full steam on my abs after first baby like I plan to soon after this baby, because we are done. No more pregnancies for me!
8. Coffee, the anti-diuretic. Coffee helps your body flush out water, waste and toxins from your body. Just as you can safely drink up to 200 mg of caffeine while pregnant, you also can while nursing.
I frequently hear the myth that if you drink coffee while pregnant or nursing, you will have a hyper baby. My son was an incredibly easy, content and mellow baby, and my daughter is even easier, more content and mellow. I drink coffee every day.
9. Move. Walk, go up and down the stairs, take your baby for a walk in her stroller or in a carrier, just try to move as much as you can. I know, your body may be sore. You may still be out of breathe walking up half a flight of stairs. I was. But do it. The more you move, the more you get your metabolism going. To date I have only “worked out” three times in 11 weeks.
10.Try to limit eating out. It’s hard to find time to cook when you have a new baby. In fact, cooking is probably the last thing on your mind. However, eating out often contains tons of sodium and other ingredients that often leave you bloated. Eating out is almost never as healthy as the food that you would make at home, where you can control the salt content, oil added, etc. So try to eat in, even if your dinner entails eggs or sandwiches. It will be better for your waist line, and save you money!
* Note: I was provided with Belly Bandits, Mother Tuckers and Mama Mio products free of charge during my pregnancy. All views reflected in this post are my honest opinions after trying and using the products. I only post reviews of products that I LOVE.