Health and wellness advice for new mums
Becoming a mum for the first time is a life-changing event and can seem daunting at times. As well as learning how to be a mother, your body, mood and mind experience changes which can leave you feeling confused, overwhelmed and elated, all at the same time. Here are some tips to look after your own health while still managing your demanding new life.
Track your day to become aware of your habits
Research shows that people who keep a food diary are more likely to achieve a healthy weight than those who don’t write down what they eat. To make tracking simple use the WW app. Tap in the foods you eat and the activity you do every day and your weight weekly. If you have a set of wireless scales or an activity tracker, you can sync them to your account to do the tracking for you.
TIP: Make sure you have updated your WW account settings to 'fully' or 'partially' breastfeeding to ensure you have the correct daily SmartPoints® Budget. If you are fully breastfeeding, WW advises a weight loss of no more than 500g per week. Non-breastfeeding mothers can aim to lose up to 1kg per week.
Work on improving your eating habits
Once you’ve mastered tracking, turn your attention to your eating habits. Do you grab whatever’s handy as you rush out the door? Do you find yourself finishing what’s left on your child’s plate? You need a plan. Start by devising a weekly menu plan using WW recipes and meal ideas. Once you’ve built up three or four weeks’ worth of meal plans, combine them into a monthly menu calendar to make your planning going forward, even easier.
Once you’ve devised a menu plan, write a shopping list to take to the supermarket with you. This ensures that you grab everything you need to make those healthy meals you’ve got planned. Research proves that taking a list with you when you’re grocery shopping makes grabbing those tempting, but less healthy foods, less likely.
Aim for 10,000 steps a day
Get yourself an activity tracker and wear it everywhere. There’s something about those little gadgets that inspires people to walk more, take the stairs, and generally try everything they can to increase the number of steps they take on a daily basis. Aim for 10,000 steps a day. It might sound like a lot, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly the steps can add up when you’re running around after a baby.
Once you’ve worked your way up to 30 minutes of movement every day, add some variety to your exercise. Try our simple workouts or consider going for a walk by yourself one morning, the 'me' time will do you good. Research that was published in The Lancet, found that physical activity reduces fatigue and improves energy levels. All the more reason for some much-needed you-time.
Look after your whole self
Be kind to yourself and make time for you
Even though you may want to lose any extra weight you gained during pregnancy, as quickly as possible, try to listen to your body and its needs before imposing unnecessary goals which, if not met, can shake your self-confidence.
Don’t scold yourself if you can’t shift the kilos as fast as you might like to – remember, it took nine months of pregnancy to put the weight on, so it's reasonable to expect it to take a similar length of time to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. In the first few weeks, give your body time to readjust as it will still be in recovery mode.
Keep a supply of healthy snacks on hand
Being a mum can be tiring. Early starts and sleep interruptions can make it difficult to maintain your energy levels. If keeping regular mealtimes is proving too hard, try to keep a supply of healthy snacks in the fridge and pantry, which you can grab when you’re hungry. Chopped fresh fruit, a small tin of canned tuna, or 99% fat-free yoghurt can help tide you over until you have some time and energy to make a proper meal for yourself.
Remember, while breastfeeding, your body needs extra nutrients and energy, so it's normal to feel hungrier and you will need to eat more than usual. Keep an eye on your fluid intake, too. Breastmilk is largely fluid this means you will need to consume more fluid to keep up with demand. Some new mums find it helpful to have a glass of water during each breastfeed to help meet any increased fluid needs.
Avoid sugary snacks
Try not to reach for refined carbohydrate snacks that are loaded with added sugar, like sweet, high-kilojoule biscuits and chocolate. Even though they might deliver a quick sugar hit, your energy will soon drop again and you’ll find yourself lagging.
Regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, try to choose foods that are nutrient dense, like leafy green vegies, some dairy foods and wholegrains like brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain cereals and multigrain breads, to help meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements, as well as topping up your energy during this new phase.
Pace yourself slowly
Remember that your baby will soon grow and become more independent and active. You may have to pace any of your health and wellness goals, to fit in with the demands of your new role at first, and of course, check with your doctor or midwife before embarking on a health plan to make sure you are physically and mentally recovered from the birth. Caring for a newborn baby is hard work, so give yourself a well-earned break every now and then.
Do what has worked for you in the past
If you never liked eating salads before, that's okay! There’s no reason why you should have to start loving them now. Instead, make wise choices, using the foods that you do love. Likewise, if you never liked walking on a treadmill, don't buy one now just for the convenience. Loved the gym? Join one that offers babysitting while you do your class or workout.
Make time for yourself
New mum and Member Mandy, has made ‘mum-only’ time a priority. Her daughter's grandparents are happy to step in so Mandy can have time to focus on her health and her weight loss. She also uses her free hours to de-stress. Getting regular manicures ("at my heaviest weight, at least my fingers looked good!" says Mandy), exercising daily and sitting down to a quiet, nutritious meal all help recapture her sense of balance and control.