Having a baby is one of the most rewarding times of your life. With so many things to think about, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. To care for your family, you need to take care of yourself too.
Getting Enough Sleep
Most newborns take many short naps during the day and night instead of sleeping long periods at a time. This can make it hard for parents to get enough sleep.
Here are some things you can try to help you get enough rest:
- If you can, sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Ask friends and family to help with cooking, housework, and caring for older children.
- Make a list of chores that need to be done. When someone offers to help, let them pick from the list so you can focus on taking care of you and the baby.
- Find a new mom group near you to get support and suggestions from women who know what you are going through.
- Do not drink a lot of coffee or energy drinks. Caffeine can pass into breastmilk and keep you and your baby from sleeping.
- Stay positive. Know that this is temporary. Your baby will sleep for longer periods of time in a couple of months.
How Are You Feeling?
After having your baby, it is common to feel a mix of emotions. Giving birth, hormonal changes, and not getting enough sleep can all make you feel a little unlike yourself. This is sometimes called the “baby blues.”
Some signs include:
- Crying easily for no reason.
- Trouble eating and sleeping.
- Being very worried about caring for the baby.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Having a short temper.
Many women have these feelings, and they usually go away as the baby gets more settled. Help from family and friends, resting, eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting out of the house are all important in helping with these feelings. If you feel sad or upset for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor or your WIC staff. You may have what is called postpartum depression.
Getting Back to a Healthy Weight
After you’ve had a chance to rest and recover you can start to think about getting to a healthy weight. Know that it takes time. There is no special diet for moms after having a baby; it is really a matter of eating healthy and exercising. Healthy meals include whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Breastfeeding can also help you get back to your pre-baby weight.
Eating healthy meals and following an exercise plan will help you nourish your body while giving you energy and helping you lose weight. Start by cutting out unhealthy foods like sodas, desserts, or fried foods. Be patient, these small changes will have lasting effects instead of diets that promise fast weight loss. Everywhere you look there are diet plans and weight-loss products that promise quick results.
Be careful of diet plans, products, or pills that promise:
Quick weight loss
If you lose weight too quickly, it may harm your body. Your body may lose muscle and water instead of fat. Healthy plans encourage a loss of only 1-2 pounds per week. Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last.
Magic foods or supplements
There are no magic foods or pills that will melt fat away. There is nothing that will burn fat while you sleep. Check with your doctor before you start any supplement. Keep in mind that “natural” does not always mean safe.
Strict (or expensive) meal plans
Be careful of diets that tell you to eat only one type of food or to stay away from an entire food group. Some programs will ask you to buy their meals, but it may be cheaper to make them at home.
No need to exercise
Regular physical activity is important for weight loss and helping you stay healthy. The key to exercise is to find something you enjoy and then aim for 30-60 minutes of activity on most days of the week.