Ah, the joy of being a new mom. The cute little newborn smiles (is it gas?), lots of cuddling day and night, and the wonder of knowing that you brought this precious human being into the world. At two and a half months, our Sweetpea is bringing us so much joy, and my hands are definitely full between caring for her and our curious, active 2 year-old boy too! With all the fun and busyness of mothering two, I’ve learned a few things about self-care and making my health a priority too…because if mama ain’t happy, well, you know the rest of the saying.
1) Sleep. I truly believe that sleep comes before exercise for the first 2 months. I believe in a daily afternoon nap, as well as a regular sleep schedule (as much as possible) for mom. Even if this means someone else gives baby a bottle in the evening.
2) Sunshine. Besides producing vitamin D to help protect your bones and brain and prevent everything from diabetes to cancer, 20 minutes of sunshine can really brighten your mood and help prevent postpartum depression. Try getting outside and either sitting or walking for just 15-20 minutes.
3) Exercise. Now is not the time to be training for your next ironman, so give yourself a little break if you are an exercise-addict. I have found this time around that I feel much better after doing minor stretches the first 2 weeks, and then gradually adding some posture-improving exercises as well. The book Pee Wee Pilates has some great routines, and this parenting website also has some good stuff to try after your OB or midwife gives you the go-ahead. I like pilates because it helps regain good posture and it’s baby friendly – no finding a sitter while you run to the gym and no dodging rain-clouds on a long run! Walking is my favorite postpartum cardio activity. As much as I love to run, walking is so much easier on those joints and bones as they are readjusting from pregnancy and childbirth.
4) Diet. No, I’m not promoting a fast weight-loss diet here, but rather healthy eating habits. Meal-planning was a life-saver for me, even with the wonderful meals that friends brought over, since we still needed to have breakfast, snacks, and lunch. Really, if you haven’t ever made a weekly menu, now is the time to start. Second, I always had frozen vegetables, bread and almond butter for sandwiches, and frozen chicken-tenders for quick meals at home when the fridge started getting empty. I also planned for lots of planned-overs…since cleaning up the kitchen takes almost as much time as making the meal in my house. Canned salmon for salmon burgers, spaghetti sauce and ground venison to make a lean, healthy spaghetti, and frozen soups that I had pre-made during pregnancy. Healthy food has to be quick and easy for me those first two months, otherwise I’m heading for the ice cream or raw cookie dough!