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Getting your body back after baby

Making time for you and your health after childbirth is not an impossible task, writes naturopath Siobhan Jordan.

A happy and healthy mum means a happy and healthy family. From the early stages of becoming a mum it's important to make yourself and your health a priority.

Often with the busyness of motherhood, health challenges, such as post-baby weight, remain. This can impact upon your physical wellbeing and, often, confidence as well. So let's get focused on getting your weight back into balance.

1. Fitness food
Start the day with a healthy breakfast. A comprehensive breakfast that contains complex carbohydrates, protein, fibre and healthy fats will mean a sustained release of energy that will keep you going for longer. Not only will this provide a strong nutritional start to your day, you'll also be less likely to run for the sugar later on in an effort increase your energy.

Here are a couple of breakfast options:
getting body back after baby
  1. Wholegrain, sourdough toast with an egg/hummus/ricotta or a nut spread (e.g. a combination containing almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews)
  2. Wholegrain cereal with milk, yoghurt, fresh fruit and 1-2 teaspoons of LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond mix available in health food stores and some grocery outlets)

At home, as well as when you're out and about with the kids, keep some healthy snacks on hand. When you're packing your children's food, pack your own too. Organise individual servings of healthy snacks such as mixed nuts or fresh fruit. This will prevent you getting to a point of ravenous hunger when the only food available is often high sugar and/or fatty foods from convenience stores or petrol stations. The individual portions will also help to prevent over-eating.

2. In Motion
Obviously exercise is critical to maintaining your health and also restoring your weight. Even though you may not have a lot of time, even 20-30 minutes used well will be enough. You can even break up your exercise over the day e.g. two sessions of 15 minutes. And remember, the intensity of your exercise will make all the difference. Get your heart rate up and get sweating! The more intense the workout, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you lose.

If you have any concerns about starting an exercise program, talk with your doctor first.     

3. Just in time
Use your time to the best of your ability. If you're watching TV, use this as time for stretching or toning exercises or using home exercise equipment.

Also, utilise the power of incidental exercise. For example, walk to the shops instead of taking the car. This is great for you and also sets a positive example for your family. A pedometer may also be a good investment. It will give you a more accurate gauge of your physical level activity.

4. Sleep
Do your best to get adequate, restful sleep. Obviously this can be extremely challenging with children waking in the night. Go to bed as early as possible - the inbox and the laundry can wait! If you don't have a healthy sleep you're more likely to run for sugary foods the next day. You're also far less likely to exercise. It's a double whammy for your weight.

Also, before bed, set an eating cut-off time of 2 hours before going to sleep. Eating after dinner time is frequently not due to hunger and often is a stress response. The foods eaten at this time are frequently unhealthy e.g. biscuits, chips etc and consumed in large quantities. Look to healthier ways of managing stress such as time out to read a book or magazine article.

If finding the time to take care of you is a real stretch, ask family and friends for support. Perhaps you can work together with another mum, taking it in turns to mind the kids and therefore giving each other some time to exercise more easily. Book in times with each other like you would appointments with your doctor or dentist.

Although the first few months after birth are a time focused on family, try not to lose sight of your own health. As soon as possible, set the tone for prioritising yourself as well as your family. Remember that taking time for you is not selfish, it's essential.

Top Tips for Post-Baby Weight Loss
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast
  • Prioritise yourself and your health
  • If you're stretched for time to exercise, break up your exercise into smaller sessions e.g. two sessions of intense 15 minute workouts
  • Do your best to get adequate sleep

Article provided by Blackmores Pregnancy Companion website.

You can also contact the free Blackmores naturopathic health advisory service on 1800 803 760.

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