Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Spring Issue 2012 | Sophie Goodchild
Finding time to eat properly and get enough sleep can seem impossible for new mothers.
Your newborn and their needs come first and looking after yourself can fall down the priority list. However, it’s essential to take care of your health and well-being, otherwise you won’t have the stamina for coping with a new baby.
Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville says not eating properly is a false economy. Often there’s not enough time to prepare three meals a day so her advice is to eat a little and at regular intervals to stabilise your metabolism.
Try not to resort to ‘quick-fix’ snacks which may give an instant energy boost but leave you craving for more.
She says: “Breastfeeding women will naturally feel more hungry but don’t use that as an excuse to reach for the chocolate. They should look to unrefined carbs like a bowl of porridge or wholemeal toast which give you more energy.”
You may be in a hurry to shed that baby weight but Dr Glenville says don’t even think about the excess pounds until six weeks after giving birth.
Breastfeeding mothers will already be burning up an extra 200-500 calories per day.
“You need to accept that your body will be different so don’t obsess,” she says.
“Giving birth does use up calories and you end up tired for longer if you cut back on calories. Don’t try to be Superwoman by getting back into shape. Women shouldn’t beat themselves up about losing baby weight and if you diet strictly (below 1,500 calories a day) you release toxins from stored fat which go into the breast milk.’
Another dilemma for fitness-conscious mothers is when to restart their pre-baby exercise regime.
Exercise specialist Judy diFiore, author of The Complete Guide to Postnatal Fitness, says wait until after your
six-week post-natal check-up and then only try low impact exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling.
Before then, the ante and post-natal exercise specialist recommends new mothers focus on getting the body moving as gently as possible.
“Women who’ve had a c-section shouldn’t do anything that causes pain or discomfort. If you pick something up, you must bend from the knees and not hinge from the hips.
“And after a c-section, you should get out of bed as you did when pregnant by rolling onto your side first then push up from a sitting position.”
An ideal workout is taking your baby out in the buggy, says Judy diFiore.
“Forget the car: this is the best thing you can do because it improves circulation and wakes the body up,” says the fitness expert.
“Walking with good posture is the best way to recover the abdominals. Walk tall, though, don’t slouch
over the buggy’s handlebars. Adjust the handle height so your elbow is at a right angle. If you slouch your muscles won’t recover.”
The 10 Best Superfoods for New Mothers
ORANGES - When you need energy on the go, oranges are a handy option and they’re packed with vitamin C to boost your immune system.
OATS - These are good source of slow release energy so you won’t experience an afternoon slump.
LOW FAT DAIRY - Yoghurt, milk and cheese are important for healthy breastfeeding. They are an excellent source of calcium and also provide protein as well as vitamins B and D.
BLUEBERRIES - Antioxidant-rich blueberries offer an easy energy boost in the form of slow release carbohydrates.
EGGS - Egg yolks are rich in vitamin D, an essential nutrient to help your baby’s bones grow
LEAN BEEF OR BEANS - Iron-rich foods, like lean beef, help boost energy levels. Beans, especially kidney beans, are an equally iron-rich option for vegetarian mothers.
WHOLEGRAIN CEREAL – A breakfast of high-fibre cereal will satisfy your hunger and help prevent constipation, a common problem for new mothers.
SPINACH - Leafy greens provide folic acid. This helps red blood cell formation which is important for women who experience significant blood loss during delivery.
WATER - Nursing mothers are prone to dehydration so drink plenty of water and switch to decaff coffee.
SALMON - Omega-3 fatty acids keep the heart healthy and can help baby’s brain and eyesight development if you’re breastfeeding. Mackerel and sardines are also a good source.