Taking care of your baby is paramount. After all, you waited a whole nine months to finally get to hold your little bundle of joy. But wait — you look at yourself in the mirror and notice the dark circles under your eyes, your unkempt hair, unhealthy pallor and protruding stomach.
You once swore to yourself that by month four, at least, you would resume your old workout routine. But it is now six months later, and baby seems healthy. How about you?
As a breastfeeding mom, it’s very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of childcare, work and daily household tasks. Eating properly becomes more challenging, and fitting in some form of exercise seems next to impossible. But don’t give up yet — there’s always something you can do to get back into shape.
With this practical advice for nursing mothers such as yourself, you’ll soon be wearing that flattering tank top you’ve been meaning to wear this past year.
- Reach for a glass of H2O
Remember, you are breastfeeding, and breast milk is 87 percent water, so do the math. Aside from drinking water (a lot!), your best bets for proper hydration are fresh vegetable and fruit juices, herbal teas and almond milk.
Caffeinated beverages and wine will have to be consumed in moderation since anything you ingest will definitely affect the quality of your milk and will have an effect on your baby’s well-being.
- Eat for you and for baby
Eating for two can mean having small meals or snacks throughout the day just like your little one to avoid overeating from extreme hunger pangs. Stick to nutritious snacks and meals with plenty of quality protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Eat healthy and natural foods, including green leafy vegetables, wild freshly-caught fish, nuts and whole grains. If you have access to organic food and ingredients, then that would be much better.
Have an occasional treat now and then, but make sure it is free from chemicals and artificial ingredients, colorants, flavor enhancers and the like. As long as you are eating healthy, you can forget about counting calories — so yes, you can definitely have your cake and eat it, too.
- Commit to a simple fitness plan
In setting your fitness goal, make sure it is realistic, simple and something you can commit to. Start with something as easy to accomplish as walking, or something low-impact like circuit training, Pilates or yoga, then gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your body begins to adjust to your exercise routine, regains strength, and recovers from the strain of giving birth.
Make exercise a regular part of your day. It doesn’t matter if you exercise in the morning, afternoon or at night, as long as you do it with some consistency. Some special added bonuses of exercise include a general feeling of wellness, better quality sleep, and time for focusing on yourself.
- Give yourself time to chill
Snacking on your favorite fruit while reading your favorite book is a great way to wind down while baby is busy snoozing or playing. On weekends, you can wear your most comfortable mama clothing and wander idly through the neighborhood, go exploring while eating ice cream, and baby is in the stroller relaxing.
Whenever you have a few rare hours to yourself, call a friend, catch up and go to a salon for a facial or a mani-pedi, do a little window shopping, watch a movie, or drop by your favorite bookstore.
Take a long, warm soothing bath, get a home massage, cook your favorite meal and savor dinner time while help is at hand, or simply use your exercise routine as the time to focus on yourself, recover and feel empowered.
So there’s really no reason to feel bad at this stage because with just a little push from within, you’ll be well on your way towards getting fit. All you need to do is set your goals straight, and stay committed to taking extra care of yourself with a wholesome wellness, nutrition and fitness plan.
At 16, Merril Bainbridge began her career in the Australian fashion industry. In her early 20's she left to launch a successful Pop Music career which saw her at the top of the US Music Charts. Retiring to start a family, she found a new purpose helping breastfeeding women with her fashion label, Peachymama.