After the birth of each of my four children I have always felt the same; as if my body has been put through a washing machine and left out to dry. Sounds extreme, I know! But think about what you’ve been through for nine months and counting. The experience of childbirth, coupled with sleepless nights and newborn care can certainly leave you feeling both physically and emotionally overloaded. Taking the time to take care of yourself under these circumstances is not an easy task. Although you may feel eager to get your groove back as soon as possible, the best remedies for healing are time and patience. In my experience it takes about a year postpartum to feel completely yourself again. In the meantime, there are so many things you can do to help gently nudge yourself in the right direction!
The following tips are based on these two important principles:
1. Your potential is endless and
2. Transformation requires effort and dedication!
LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS
Do you tend to put pressure on yourself to achieve something and then become disappointed when you don’t? Do you have an image of your perfect body in your mind? Resolve to completely let go of expectations. In Dennis Prager’s book, “The Problem With Happiness”, he writes that one of the causes of unhappiness is the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve an idealised image of our life. I encourage you to simply think of starting fresh. You have the potential to get into the best physical and emotional shape of your life!
GET SOME SLEEP
Getting enough rest isn’t just important throughout the early postpartum days, but on an ongoing basis. Some women survive on a postpartum adrenaline rush for about 3-4 months. Be mindful about getting enough rest so that you don’t crash. If naps are possible, take them. If not, try to sleep early and start your night sleep close to when you put your baby down. A great refresher during the day if you only have ten minutes is to lie on a yoga mat or blanket with your legs up against the wall. Check out how to get into this position here.
If you are breastfeeding, your baby gets all that they need, often leaving you depleted! Supplements can often help, and I recommend taking Vitamin D, Probiotics, Fatty Acids and a Prenatal Multi Vitamin. Remember that you should always speak to your doctor for their suggestions before taking any new supplements. My favourite site for supplements is iHerb. Shipping to Hong Kong is reasonable and they carry a good selection to meet your personal needs.
Best perk of breastfeeding? The food you can eat! Now is not the time to limit calories. Eat and drink until you are satisfied. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you still need fuel for taking care of your baby so keep eating a mindful, balanced diet. My go-to breakfast is this granola recipe I created for breastfeeding moms who are on a nut free diet. Of course, if you are OK with nuts add in some chopped almonds or walnuts.
Nealy’s Granola Recipe
Makes around 10 servings.
8 cups Oats
2/3 cup coconut oil, liquid form
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Vanilla
½ cup hemp seeds
½ cup flax meal
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp of salt
1 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup dried cranberries
Pour oats into a large bowl.
Add coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla and let stand 20 minutes.
Add in hemp seeds, flax meal and spices. Mix well. Add sunflower seeds.
Spread onto cookie sheet and bake at 150 degrees. Check every 5-10 minutes and mix to brown evenly. Remove when fragrant and crispy.
If using a dehydrator, spread mixture on teflex sheets and dehydrate for 48 hours.
Add cranberries after cooking.
Store in airtight container in the fridge
Getting your heart pumping and sweating to some of your favorite tunes is one of the best ways to clear your mind and shed some pounds. Find an activity that you love and do it everyday. For an added challenge now that the weather has cooled off, try pushing your stroller up to the Peak! A few words of caution: always start slow, and build intensity gradually. Avoid high impact training like running until you’ve gained mastery of your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
MIND THE GAP: ALL ABOUT YOUR ABS
If you think of how far out your belly stretched for nine months, it’s really no wonder that it takes a while for your midsection to flatten again. A common postpartum condition is Diastasis Recti, where your rectus abdominis (your ab muscles!) separate. An abdominal program that focuses on toning your pelvic floor and transverse is key to an effective recovery. Mandy Wong and Heather Thomas are my two favorite teachers for abdominal conditioning classes in Hong Kong (I’ve just given away my secrets, by the way!). They are both great at helping your target those abs in the right way. Splurge on a few private sessions with them or another qualified teacher who will teach you great technique that you can then apply to your home practice.
STRETCH IT OUT
Tight, tired and weak muscles anyone? Yoga, unlike other forms of exercise, helps strengthen and lengthen your muscles simultaneously. It’s the best way I know to work out kinks in my neck or a stiff lower back and the most versatile workout out there. Sneak in a few downward dogs while your baby naps; a little goes a long way. Want some mobile inspiration? Yogaglo has something for everyone!
Stay tuned for more from Nealy on safely beginning an exercise and yoga program,or leave your comments below and we’ll pass these on for her expert eye. In the meantime, check out our That Mama interview here.
Sassy Mama Deal: Want to join a class with Hong Kong’s hottest yoga instructor and save 50%? Flex Studio are offering Sassy Mama readers a half-price deal on their first class with Nealy from now until February 28. Postnatal clients can also book a one-off Private Pilates Assessment (60 mins) for only $500, a saving of $380 from the usual price. Simply email [email protected] and quote Sassy Mama to book your spot!