Top Ten Tips for Becoming a Post Pregnancy Wonder Woman

GET YOUR PRE BABY BODY BACK

LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT

I’m about to get feministy for a moment: I’m so over this messaging that targets women who just gave birth (aka JUST GREW AN ENTIRE HUMAN *AND* A WHOLE NEW ORGAN). The not-so-subtle message: Go back to being small. Fit back in to the itty-bitty-lady-box that society has constructed for you. And you better bring lollipops for the other passengers if you dare bring that baby on a plane.

Ok, stepping down! (I read this and got a little fired up……. Well meaning advice, but not exactly what most new moms need.)

But really, that time of getting to know the mini that you’ve been growing inside for 75% of the past year deserves honor and respect. I suggest you think of it as an exquisite time to immerse yourself in grace, gratitude, and wonder, rather than counting calories and stressing about how your jeans fit. (BOOTYLICIOUS. Bootylicious is always the right answer to that question!)


Verified by Queen Bey herself.

So here are MY Top Ten Secrets To Unleashing Your Post Pregnancy Wonder Woman:

1 Enjoy this sacred time, and really use it to rest and recover. A new little person just entered the world and your life. Both of you have a lot to get used to!

2 Breastfeed IF YOU CAN, if you can’t just focus on feeding and loving on your babe.


Photo: Alyssa Milano

The battlefield where breast milk and formula face off is unnecessary. Are there a lot of incredible benefits to breastfeeding? Of course!

-Food tailor-made for baby

-Oxytocin to help promote bonding

-Uterus shrinkage

-Antibodies that adjust to the environment and baby’s needs (as communicated by backwash)

-Yes, requires calories to create (20 calories per ounce in the milk itself, plus 5 calories of energy used to make that ounce, meaning Mama uses 25 calories to make one ounce of breast milk).

-Cool party tricks (ok, maybe not, but you’ll at least impress yourself when you see how far you can squirt, especially when unintentional! Or maybe that’s just me……..)

But here’s a major benefit of formula:

Feeding a baby that would otherwise lack food or be unable to eat.

If you are really struggling with breastfeeding, there are SO MANY supportive resources:

Your local IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants)

La Leche League

Facebook groups and pages like The Badass Breastfeeder

And many other local classes and groups (if you’re looking for some in the Boulder/Denver area, holler at me!)

Whether baby’s milk comes from your boobs or a bottle (or both!), you can still snuggle as baby eats. Which is just as important as getting fed.

3 Love on yourself! “Ain’t Momma happy, ain’t nobody happy.” No, but seriously. If you neglect self care, you’re not able to be fully present and give the best of yourself. Maybe you take a bath with Epsom salts and tea leaves. Or you go with your girls to the spa for a manicure or a massage. (Note: both of these can be enhanced with sushi. And wine.)


This is what mom bath time dreams are made of.


#bathtubporn A fireplace, chocolates, and two glasses of bubbly all to myself? 😉

On a more serious note: be on the lookout for signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, especially if you experienced any during pregnancy. There are a variety of methods that can help with this. I personally see a counselor and encapsulated my placenta. Find what works for you, and if you can’t, then reach out to someone.

4 EAT. Of course the majority of what you eat should be nourishing in order to help you feel your best and help recover. But for your mental health allow a treat each day!

Especially if you are breastfeeding, you need to eat A LOT. There is a commonly quoted number of 500 extra calories consumed by the making of milk. However, some women may need 700, 800, or even 1,000 extra calories per day! This article shares how to figure that number out! Hint: if you are breastfeeding and not pumping, you can still approximate by weighing baby before and after feeding for a day to measure how many ounces baby eats in a day.

My tips for keeping a nourishing diet:

Keep it mindlessly easy. I have been the queen of bars (hi Kind bars and Quest bars!), snacks from the bulk bin (dried mango, I blame you/credit you for my daughter’s hair!) and Perky Jerky.

Multitasking food prep. I’ll cook up some ground turkey with onion, and I can: top it with taco sauce, put it atop pasta and sauce, add it to a soup, put it on a salad, put it in a bell pepper and throw it in the oven, and more!

Avoid New Mom Hanger/Hanxiety. They are real (and not pretty).

5 MOVE NOT Mommy Boot Camps. My girl Bri Battles eloquently shared her thoughts here (Same page, same page!)

Sooooo what to do? Start with walking!

I have a series of quickie videos of yoga and exercises that are safe to do postpartum while helping you get strong again:

Booty and Abs Part 1

Booty and Abs Part 2
Yoga Quickie
Strengthening Abs as a New Mom
New Mom Booty!
New Mom Arms and Shouldahs!
Bonus! Later Postpartum Abs*
(*for after diastasis has healed)

PLEASE please please please keep healing and recovery first and foremost in your mind. If you had a Caesarean, that was MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY. And regardless of your birth, your pelvic floor was under a LOT of pressure that increased over nine months. Those muscles, and your ab muscles, need to recover (find some hints in the videos above!)

6 Find something that is JUST FOR YOU. You are still you, you’ve just added a new role. Taking on that new role doesn’t mean that all of your other roles have vanished, they need nourishment too, especially those that help you relieve stress (because having a tiny human is not exactly the most easy breezy/low stress thing in the world!) So,

-You’re caring for a tiny human

-You’re probably not getting as much sleep as you used to

-Your hormones are still all sorts of all over the place

Yeah, that can be stressful. Which can lead to increased cortisol. Which can lead to adrenal fatigue, weight gain around the belly and other such delights!

Do what you can to minimize stress. Even if it’s 3-5 minutes of deep belly breathing. Ask your partner or friends or that sweet little couple a few doors down to help out. If working out is your stress release, do it gently in a postpartum friendly way (Protip: if lifting weights is a major stress reliever, try some resistance band workouts. They are no joke!)

7 Don’t compare yourself to social media, celebrities, or even friends (or the other moms in town) Or even your pre-pregnancy body. Your body is where it is now, but you can eventually get even stronger than before. My core is definitely stronger now, at 20 months postpartum than it was pre pregnancy, because I am now more knowledgeable about how my core muscles function AND I applied that knowledge to build strength back up!

And just like every body carries a baby differently, our bodies all handle postpartum differently. Case in point. Do what you can while being kind to yourself and your body to get to feeling authentic in your body.

8 HYDRATE Water, coconut water, aminos/BCAAs, infused water…….. IT IS ALL DELICIOUS YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU. And there are some really cute (and sparkly and sassy!) water bottles out there. Oh, and there’s plenty of science detailing why proper hydration is essential. Science or you can just consult Dr. Google on this one.

9 Supplements are your friend (not just Vitamin Wine!) First, a disclaimer: I am simply sharing what supplements have worked for me. I am not specifically endorsing or prescribing any supplements, because what works for me may not work for you. Again, know your body and what has worked for you in the past or discuss with your practitioner.

Immediately postpartum, I continued taking the same supps I took while pregnant: Multi, Omegas (good for baby’s brain!), B’s, D3, whey and vegan protein powders (as long as there were no herbs contraindicated for pregnancy), rhodiola rosea, and 5-HTP (a serotonin precursor). Especially if you are breastfeeding, you need to replenish your own nutritional stores!

10 Don’t do belly wraps. Just don’t. Perhaps you read my previous post on postpartum belly support The FitMom’s Gym Bag ONLY EXCEPTION: the wraps administered by doulas because they are wrapped from bottom up, supporting organs and do not contribute to intrabdominal pressure and pelvic organ prolapse. If you learn how to engage the transverse abdominal muscles (through belly breathing and the exercises in the videos), you will create your own corset anyway!

 

You just did an amazing thing, and are doing more amazing things (even when your hair’s a mess and baby just had a blowout)! Be kind to yourself, and just focus on the little bits of progress. They add up over time.

Advertisements

A Love Letter to our MomBods

Back when I was still pregnant (just over a year ago 😉 ), I thought that by a year postpartum, my daughter would be mostly weaned from breastfeeding and I’d be able to workout HARD, take all the preworkout and other supplements that should not be in breast milk, and hey maybe think about competing again!

Not yet. Horses: held.

My body is still not completely mine. My daughter is only just starting to understand that she can eat food in addition to playing with it, but she still primarily gets her nutrition from me. 

So I still have the breastfeeding softness.

A lot of moms have that softness, breastfeeding or not.

And you know what? To your child, you are PERFECT.

That softness is their tactile sensation of comfort. The way you smell after you’ve missed a shower or two (because #momlife)? Comfort. Everything about you is perfect to them because it is YOU.

YOU are their world.

So all that “body back” messaging (that will be another post!)? Ughhhhhhhhhhh *eyeroll* 

Your body will never be the same.

You’ve grown and birthed a HUMAN.
You’ve leveled up.

Perfectionism, Mom Guilt, and Getting Shit Done

I have a goal this year. Well actually, I have a number of goals, but those are for another post or two 😉 

I will write and post more regularly here on The Radiant Human::The Fit Mamafesto! 

Why am I making a point of proclaiming this as a goal?

Because:

I have a lot to say. A lot.

But I have been far too perfectionistic about it. My desire for the perfect verbiage and nuance and voice has instead left my words paralyzed in the drafts section of my blog.

And honestly?

That been a really selfish move on my part.

I’ve been so fixated on creating PERFECT that I’ve effectively kept my thoughts to myself. 

Not anymore.

My words and thoughts deserve to be out there, to be shared and discussed and debated and yes it will be ok if I decide I need to make some edits!

So that’s out there. That covers the Perfectionism and Getting Shit Done parts of the title. But what does it have to do with Mom Guilt?

Everything. 

Mom guilt is all about second guessing and wondering about the path not taken rather than simply being present and enjoying the current beautiful, messy journey. Mom guilt can arise from the paralysis caused by a particularly venomous perfectionism. 

Mom guilt gets in the way of GETTING SHIT DONE.

Does this mean that by writing more I’ll rid myself of Mom Guilt, forever and ever? 

No. And that’s ok.

But I’ll be able to look at the Mom Guilt, maybe acknowledge it with a little greeting or a wave, say “peace out!”, and then I can continue on the GSD path instead of allowing it to grow into a monstrous THING.

Because I have shit to do. 

The FitMom’s Gym Bag

You’ve been ok’d to return to the gym AND (this is crucial) your body feels ready for it!

CAN I GET AN AMEN?

So you just pack the things you packed before, plus diaper bag and baby if baby’s coming with you, right? Yes….. and no. There are some key things that will make your life easier at the gym post birth.

Booby pads

Because this happens.

photo 4

Flexibility and a Time Cushion

Everything takes longer with babies. EVERYTHING. That 5 minute quick run to the store? Now it’s 20. Exception: showers. I don’t think I need to explain that one!

The need for flexibility and a time cushion applies to all active moms: whether your gym has a daycare, allows baby in the weight room in her car seat, or you’re working out at home. When baby’s hungry, baby’s hungry, and it’s not fun for anyone when baby goes from hungry to hangry. There has already been more than a single instance of me bringing dumbbells or a kettlebell back to the daycare! 

So that’s precisely what you do. You find a way to make it work. It might be adjusting your routine on the fly, incorporating some home workouts if you exercise primarily at a gym, plan an additional 15 or 20 minutes for pretty much everything. Because babies like to poop too (that’s also a reminder to have extra clothes for baby AND you!)

KNOWLEDGE

Last, but the most important. After having a baby, your body is a postpartum body. Forever. Does that mean there are certain exercises you can never do again? Not necessarily. But it means that you have to be not just aware but hyperaware of how your body is reacting to your workouts, both in terms of immediacy (how does your pelvis feel while you squat and later that night?) and longevity (is your diastasis continuing to improve, or is it getting worse?) Not only do these constant evaluations require you to adjust your workouts, but you have to be willing to adjust your mindset. You’re not going to be able to work out at your prepregnancy level for a while, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mamas: now is the perfect time for bulking 😉 ALL THE MUSCLES!!

What you do NOT need: 

Pads or other incontinence cover ups. The whole “once you give birth you’ll always leak” thing? FALSE. You don’t have to. Will you experience leaks and toots immediately after birth? Most likely. Does it have to stay that way forever and ever and ever and ever? Uh no. Will it take time for your pelvic floor and your core muscles to heal and get back to normal (I mean “be even better than before”)? Yes! Time, and work combined with gentleness with yourself.

Nor do you need a belly binder or a corset. There are a couple of exceptions, but the majority of items marketed as “postpartum support” are simply Victorian era relics that are more likely to harm than to heal. Example? Ms. Kim K.


Yes, our ab muscles are stretched out after pregnancy and childbirth, so support feels sooooo nice. But these corsets squeeze more than support. Our organs have been squished and displaced as our babies grew; these corsets just continue that and have the potential to lead to prolapse. I don’t have time for that. Neither do you.

Support CAN help. Belly wraps done by a trained doula are great, as are products like Baobei Maternity’s Core Support Yoga Shorts. They support from the bottom up, allowing organs to settle back into the right spots while supporting the surrounding muscles.

Me at 6 weeks postpartum wearing the Baobei Maternity COREset. I do not have the shorts, but word on Instagram is that capris and leggings are in the works!

The best things for healing after birth are visits to a physiotherapist who specializes in women’s health and the pelvic floor. Pricier than the corsets? Initially, yes. But they will prescribe exercises you can do (some which I will be sharing in upcoming videos!) and they will see what you cannot. And that cost is significantly less than the money and time/rehabilitative investment of a surgery. Need help finding a women’s PT in your area?

Get after it! Put your New Mama strength to good use!

I’m Bringing Sexy Mama Back

So I’ve done some photo shoots after the birth of my little girl.

First(ish) at 6 weeks.

12524257_475684892635158_3601632737708444269_n

First official at 3 months.

seeleyfitapril-375.jpg

 

Another (more fitness oriented) at 5 months.

Megan-53.jpg

And……..Why?

Isn’t early postpartum (and yes, 5 months is still early!) a time of fluctuating boobs and soft tummies? aka Not the sexiest time in a woman’s life?

Yes. Exactly.

And it is still a time of sexiness and beauty.

We just worked our asses off for nine months to grow a human. A REAL, TINY HUMAN! And now we’re working even harder to nurture that little human into a strong, amazing human.

But so many women don’t see this bodily feat as worth celebrating. There may be stretch marks. There may be soft bellies where firm abs used to be. There are breasts that go from engorged to drained multiple times a day. There may be cellulite on our bums and thighs (I just remind myself that those fat stores help her brain development. SCIENCE! Easy reading version Journal article for extra credit )

I want to posit that THESE BODIES ARE STILL SEXY! I might even go so far as to say they are SEXIER than before (oh my so many caps! I feel strongly about this!)

We have just gone through an experience that is the most feminine and womanly thing we can do. That softness? That’s what comforts our little ones. They snuggle into our curves, smell our mommy scent, and feel safe.

Am I against women working out after birth? Not at all, if it is done appropriately according to your body’s needs. But I do personally feel that the primary focus at the beginning should simply be for sanity and for retaining a sense of self, not for PRs. Once you’ve healed (which depends on a LOT of factors: vaginal vs. caesarean birth, how the birth itself went, degree of diastasis, etc. ), game on!

But don’t do it because you want to get your sexy bod back. Your body, the one you have right now, IS sexy! And its sexiness will evolve as you continue on the journey of mamahood!

Photo credits: SeeleyFit team

Knocked Up Fit Chick #4

Phew! It’s been a bit! No more baby belly because Lyra is here!

And so is mommy brain 😉

Knocked Up Fit Chick #4

This is the first of a series discussing postpartum recovery.

I’m not promising you’ll get your pre baby abs back. You might. Or you might get even more ripped abs…….. eventually. Or you won’t. But you will have KNOWLEDGE!

full

I’m not promising your bladder won’t peek out if you eventually start doing crunches again (I know, ew. Dear pelvic floor muscles: one of your jobs is to keep my internal muscles internal. I’ll treat you right to keep you strong and supple, so please do your job. Muah. Thank you.) But my goal with this series is for you to have a well-stocked toolbox to prevent prolapse and to heal diastasis recti. And to build a posse of strong sexy mamas!