Here are my top tips on looking after yourself and being a contended, healthy new mum!
- Feed yourself as well as you can. You need a lot of fuel at the beginning so try to eat regularly, even if you feel too busy. I tried to snack during the long hours spent feeding my son and I was constantly asking my husband, my mum, or whoever was around to bring me fruit, biscuits, cereal and drinks to keep me going. I found breastfeeding made me very hungry, thirsty and tired. Whether breastfeeding or not, you will be tired and working very hard so it's important to eat as well as possible.
- Take vitamin supplements. You will probably be given iron tablets and I didn't really enjoy taking these although they were necessary. Other vitamins that helped me were a calcium and vitamin D supplement (especially good if breastfeeding), and effervescent vitamin C tablets which I enjoyed taking because it pepped me up a bit when I had to wake up very early in the mornings!
- Fibre! Particularly important when you are taking high doses of iron. All-bran is a good breakfast cereal which is really high in bran (kind of obvious from the name!) and I also recently discovered oat bran, which is available in some supermarkets and health food shops. It is good made up as a porridge and is also a very concentrated source of bran.
- Support garments. I would only recommend this if it feels comfortable to you, but I found that wearing a support garment in the early weeks after having my son really helped my waistline shrink back quickly. There are some very expensive ones on the market but I bought a cheaper one from Amazon and it did the job excellently. You can find the one I had here. It was stretchy and supportive, so I found it actually quite comfortable to wear under my clothes during the day.
- What to wear? This is a tricky one as you may find there is nothing in your pre-pregnancy wardrobe that is suitable for a while. Or you might be lucky and all your old clothes fit immediately, but that was not the case for me! I wasn't comfortable in my old jeans for a while, and I couldn't wear most dresses because of breastfeeding. I bought a few stretchy tube/pencil type skirts and also wore ones I already had with elasticated waistbands. Anything I bought new was in my pre-pregnancy size because I wanted to get back to that, but a bit of elastane meant these would fit me in my temporary larger size. I bought some stretchy camisole vests to wear under looser tops/jumpers so I could lift my tops to feed but still have a layer underneath to cover me up. So my new mum uniform for a good few months was stretchy skirts, tights, camisoles and jumpers. I was fairly happy in this as I felt comfortable and it was practical for me. I still wear the skirts I bought then and I am back at my normal size.
- Keep your body moisturised. I had used bio oil throughout my pregnancy and I continued to use that or another rich moisturiser as often as I could find time to after giving birth. I think this helped my skin recover and retain its suppleness. I found a gel-oil like Vaseline cocoa butter gel oil was quick and easy to apply after showering when my skin was still damp, and was very hydrating.
- Don't try to diet! If you start depriving yourself of fuel early on you will crash and burn. Your body has been through a lot and it is still being challenged every day. Just be patient and you will see your body starting to go back to normal on its own, as long as you are eating fairly healthily. I'd say don't restrict calories for at least 6 months or for as long as you go on breastfeeding.
- Walk everywhere. Once you feel up to it of course. When your baby is small and taking lots of naps, it is lovely to get outside with the pram and walk to the shops, to wherever you are meeting your friends, or just to the park to have some fresh air. I don't have a car anyway but I found that walking everywhere instead of taking public transport was a good way of getting some exercise and helping shift baby weight. It also gave me time to think and made me feel great!
- Be proud of your body as it has done the most amazing thing possible.
I hope my tips have been interesting to read! I would love to hear any tips you have too.