Thursday, November 30, 2006

Physical Fitness Once Baby Is Born

Getting back into shape after having a baby is a tough job for many moms. If you have never had any major medical problems or surgeries, then chances are that you cannot anticipate how your body will react to the trauma of childbirth. Although c-sections have a reputation for causing serious delays in recovery, many women who deliver vaginally report the same length and pain of recovery. In addition, many new moms are still trying to navigate life with a newborn and have little time to spend on themselves.

It is important to make plans for your physical health while you are still pregnant. Though you should have begun a healthy eating regimen during pregnancy, you always have room for improvement. As the last few weeks of your pregnancy near, begin checking on your diet. Ask yourself if you are getting too much caffeine, too few vegetables, or too many calories. Remember that pregnancy is not the time to eat everything in sight, so you still should be aware of what you are eating. Make small modifications now to your diet.

The second step is to prepare for your meals in the first two weeks after your baby is born. If you are able, you should prepare meals now and freeze them. Look up terms such as bulk cooking and once a month cooking for recipe ideas and tips. You will need to purchase inexpensive containers to go in your freezer, but you should be able to freeze several meals even in a refrigerator freezer. Planning out these meals now will make it easier when the baby is born. You will eat healthier. The family will save money. Everyone will win.

Once your baby arrives, be sure that you keep your own health in mind. You should get some form of physical activity in the first few weeks. Although you may feel poorly, mild exercise, such as walking, will help you to heal faster. Many women find that they need a mental health break, too, especially if they are up all night working out the kinks in breastfeeding. Even a five-minute walk around the block can be refreshing and will help your body to heal. Be sure that you take a cell phone with you so that you can call home if needed and walk slowly. Power walking is not important; the motions of walking are.

Stretching throughout the day is another good way to keep up your physical health. Try a few basic stretches, such as standing with your knees together and reaching for the sky. Bend a little each way if you can. These basic movements will help keep you energized and alert while keeping your body moving. After the throes of labor or not, most people find that once they get out of a workout routine they have a very hard time getting back into it, so being sure to keep your body limber will help.

Know when to rest. Though it may sound counterintuitive, knowing how to relax after having a baby will help your mental and physical health. You should plan at least 15 minutes everyday when no one is bothering you. Someone else should answer any baby cries, and your partner should leave you alone. Even if you have to use the still quiet of the morning or late evening, take this time for yourself. Relax. Read a magazine. Stare at the ceiling. Just do not do anything. Your body will get exhausted during the first months of child-rearing, and you will find that a few minutes of relaxation actually helps stimulate you to move more.

Pick up your physical activity each week. Though your doctor likely will not clear you for actual exercise, such as going to the gym, until after your six-week postpartum visit, you can begin picking up the pace before then and still be safe. If you feel great while making dinner, turn on a CD and dance around a little. Take back more of the housework. Water the plants. Spend some time getting back into your old routine so that you will be able to get back on your feet within a few weeks. Then, once you are cleared for full exercise, you will not have such a hard time getting yourself back in the groove.

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