Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Postpartum health

I currently have a month old baby and as i continue to educate myself on how to take care of my health needs during this postpartum time, I figured I'd share some of my secrets with other mothers out there. Down to the amount of calories you are suppose to have, to what foods you should stay up on, to weight loss after having a baby.

First I would like to encourage every mother out there to try as much as possible to nurse your baby the first year of its life. God has given us all an amazing gift. We are are capable of producing all the nutrients our baby needs without trying real hard. God made it simple. And nature allows us to bond with our baby in its first year of life by breast-feeding. I do not intend to discourage those mothers who chose to formula feed. This is not the purpose. But the facts are there, breast-feeding will provide the best health for you and your baby that no supplement can replace. The evidence is there, so I encourage you all...hang in there. Breast-feeding is very demanding and i respect every mother who devotes themselves to it! It's as if with every feeding we are praying long life over our children. What a beautiful gift God has given us. (If you were unable to breast feed your children because of health circumstances or lack of milk, this is not to discredit any mother who tried).

Click here for a list of reasons breast-feeding is important for your baby's health.
Click here for reasons breast-feeding is important for your own health.

Now here's the big one that probably all of us mothers wrestle with: Weight Loss. It is imperative that we don't try to exhaust ourselves over this during the first year we are recovering from pregnancy. Think of this way, it took you 9 months and 3 weeks to pack on the pounds, it should take you just as long to get rid of them. Don't expect yourself to be like all the women in Hollywood and be back in your pre-baby clothes in 6 weeks. The amount of women that happens to are minute. The truth is, it's just not practical nor realistic for most moms. And though breast-feeding guarantees a smaller uterus in just months, it doesn't necessarily mean less weight. In fact, breast-feeding may contribute to holding onto fat longer than you desire. This is because your body needs this fat to produce milk for your baby. Though your baby may not weigh much now, he/she is consuming 1,000 calories everyday from your milk supply. The quality of breast milk is only affected in extreme cases of deprivation, or by excessive intake of a particular food. But the quantity of milk depends very much on the mother's diet. This is why your diet is so important after you have the baby just as much as it was while you were pregnant. This does not exclude mothers who choose to not breast-feed as well. In order for optimal recovery after you have a baby, it is crucial you eat right. Women who don't have severe problems with constipation, weight loss contributed from muscle loss, swelling and water retention, along with also having extreme points of post-pardum depression. While trying to cut calories seems like the best solution to lose weight, it is DANGEROUS for a women who is recovering from child-birth! For women who are breast-feeding you should be consuming 1800-2200 calories a day (about 500 calories more than you would normally consume). But its also important what foods you are putting into your body. If you are looking to have aid in weight loss while you are recovering from child-birth I recommend colorful foods. Stay away from starchy foods that break down into sugar. Don't omit whole grains, but for a time limit the intake of pastas, breads and potatoes (this does not include sweet potatoes which has vitamin A in it....ladies this aids in digestion and can keep you from constipation). I personally omit all sweet desserts my first year of trying to get back down to my pre-baby weight. Though this is hard on days we have a sweet tooth, I find I am more liberated when I go out and someone offers me something sweet. You don't feel the guilt of eating something sweet when your out because you're not eating it when your home. i also am a firm believer that a diet high in greens helps keep the calories moving and make it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. I sometimes even add a powder vitamin of mixed greens to a fruit smoothie just for added fiber and vitamins. i actually find it better than taking a multi-vitamin because the powder itself comes directly from the plant itself, rather than a synthetic lab-made vitamin (which most vitamins are). Also a fruit smoothie is a much better option than fruit juice since the pasteurization also removes essential vitamins your body needs. I also recommend eating through-out the whole day. yes, you heard me right. Because we are nursing mostly on demand, your more likely to feel hungry through-out the day, rather than eating scheduled meals. this will also help in not over-eating. Sometimes if we wait for the "intended" time to eat, we're so hungry by the time it comes that we end up indulging. Choose healthy, colorful snacks to chew on in between meals that will help keep you on track (such as cheese and whole grain crackers, carrots and hummus, or organic peanut butter and banana). If you want more examples feel free to contact me, but for now I need to move on because this blog is getting long:)

Now, if your anything like me. you can be doing all these great things and maybe STILL not see weight-loss. Don't stress. I personally find it almost impossible to lose weight a healthy way the first 6 months of my baby's life. The biggest reason being? The lack of sleep. Yep, not getting enough sleep can help keep on extra pounds. And its not because of the quantity of sleep, but the quality. Your babies needs are so demanding of you in the night, and you'd be happy to sleep 4 hours straight on a good night. I get about 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but because its broken sleep I never really enter into "rem" (rapid eye movement) sleep. It aids in reducing stress, decreasing appetite and making us more hormonally balanced. If we miss out on it, it can very well keep us from losing weight. Don't be discouraged if you don't see results right away in your body, in a few months things WILL get easier.

Make sure you're getting at least a 1/2 hour of rapid activity everyday, along with drinking a large amount of water through-out your day. I always recommend 1/2 your body weight in ounces. If your nursing your baby, you should have at least an 8 ounce glass of water with every feeding. And please filter your water to help reduce the amount of fluoride, chlorine and sulfates in your water:) They are not good for you or your baby. This is even more important for babies who formula feed. There is no need to have fluoride in your baby's water when it doesn't even have teeth.

I think thats good for now....until next time ;D

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