How to Get Your Body Back After Having A Baby

 
 

If you Google, "how to get your body back after having a baby" you'll get a whopping 13,700,000 results. "Do this exercise to shed pounds!" "Eat this or don't eat that to get back to your pre-baby weight!"

Most likely, very few of these results will say "how to heal your body after childbirth" or "do these exercises to regain pre-baby function!"

Look, wanting to get back to your pre-baby weight is a real and valid concern. Women want and need to feel like themselves again after the life-changing upheaval of having a baby.

But what if, instead of revering celebrities who walked a runway 8 weeks after birth, we focused on allowing a woman to heal, then start exercising in a way that's appropriate for whatever hand she was dealt in childbirth so that ultimately, she can be even stronger. 

You will (WILL) get back to regaining your identity and pieces of yourself (physically and mentally), no matter how far off that may feel right now. But instead of pushing through pain and dysfunction to do it, let's flip the narrative so that "getting your body back after having a baby" means instead to regain function, heal, and re-learn how your new body works in the post-baby world.

So here's a NEW list- instead of "drop pounds now" lists, here are 4 ways to REALLY get your body back!

1. Find a Physical Therapist

But not just any physical therapist- specifically, look for a physical therapist who specializes in women's health issues, sometimes called a "women's health PT" or a "pelvic floor PT." You should be able to get a referral from your OB, but sadly this is often not the case- so if you aren't finding that avenue helpful, then check out our RESOURCES page to find some directories. You'll quickly come to understand why this is standard care for postpartum women in many other countries, like France. 

2. Eat For Your Nutritional Needs

First and foremost, work closely with your healthcare provider! The point is, your needs are probably different than they were before having a baby, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Try this, this, and this article for a helpful starting point. Some cultures even believe you should consume certain foods to help with the healing process - try checking out The First Forty Days by Heng Ou for more on this. If you can afford it, find a nutritionist to help you on this path (find one on our RESOURCES page).

3. Core City

OK, everyone knows you aren't supposed to exercise prior to getting clearance from your doctor, but what about after? How much, and what, should you do? You should discuss this with your healthcare provider, but there are many programs out there specifically tailored to postpartum women. These programs vary but all are focused on helping postpartum women regain function in their core musculature, healing diastasis recti, and restoring pelvic floor function - all important aspects that should be functioning again before you start 'regular' exercise. Try Restore Your Core, Mutu System, or Hab It. (Know of other programs? Leave a suggestion in the comments.)

4. Self Care

Say what now? You've got a newborn and probably haven't showered in two days, and now you are supposed to worry about self care? Look, self care doesn't have to mean taking 30 minutes to do a face mask in your bathroom (although it can). Self care can be really simplified - sometimes, it's about taking 5 minutes to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea while flipping through a magazine without feeling guilty or worrying about all the other things you want to get done while the baby is napping. Maybe it means taking 5 minutes to journal in your Duo Diary, or maybe it means calling a friend. Get creative- a few minutes here and there of YOU TIME can go a long way. (Here's a great list to get you started). 

So there you have it. 4 ways to 'get your body back after having a baby'!

5 More Mommy Must Haves

Last month we talked about 5 Mommy Must Haves that we wish someone had told us about when we were registering. But of course, there are way more than five amazing items to help a new mom's life be a little bit easier. Along with a one year supply of Duo Diary, these items would be great shower gifts for any mom-to-be in your life! So, here are 5 MORE mommy must haves!

 
 

The Sound Sleeper App

Last month we talked about the wonders of a sound machine for a baby that's sleeping. This app is a miracle for parents who are in the newborn/infant phase and need that "4th Trimester" white noise on a moment's notice. The beauty of the app is it's portability - you can lull baby to sleep on walks, car rides, etc. 

 
 

Fischer Price Rock N Play

The Fischer Price Rock n Play has a cult following in many mommy circles, and for good reason. The snuggly, slightly upright design seems to help even the most colicky babies sleep.

 

My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow

 
 

This pillow is just better than any other nursing pillow out there- it's made from a firm foam and covered in a removable and washable soft cover. There's also a belt that you can wrap around your waist so it sits snug exactly where you need it, and baby can rest on it while feeding. The firmness of the foam makes a huge difference - there's less fidgeting to get into the right position, and the belt allows you to hoist it up higher (unlike a regular nursing pillow that sits on your lap), which helps with not feeling so hunched over. Plus a little pocket to keep water or your Duo Diary, these folks thought of everything. 

 

Sleep Sacks & Swaddles

If you want to swaddle but can't get it to stay, sleep sacks (great for sleeping) and other swaddles are a SUPER easy way to keep baby swaddled. The Halo Sleep Sack is great for nights when baby is still too little to have any blankets in their crib but you still want to keep them warm. Want a swaddle that just wraps your baby without you figuring out how to fold, place, and tuck properly? Ziggy Baby, Swaddle Me, and the Woombie all have great options. 

 

Yoga Pants 

Yes, you may have dreams of being a stylish mom who looks put together and wouldn't be caught dead in sweats, but there is nothing better than having a good pair (or 2) of yoga pants on hand. And not pre-pregnancy ones, either- a brand new pair that is comfortable for your body now. There are a million brands out there now, from the more expensive Lululemon to the midprice range Fabletics to Old Navy. (Just trust us on this one!)

What were your mommy must-haves?

Don't Visit Your Friend Who Just Had a Baby Without Doing One of These

 
 

If you are reading this, chances are you've had a baby, or know someone who has. (Otherwise, you are really lost on the internet). Anyone who has ever had a baby gets bombarded with people who want to come visit and meet the baby. All well and good, except for the fact that during this 'visit' one of the parties is recovering from one of the most major events a human body can go through, and most likely doing so with a smile on their face. 

But sometimes visitors mean well and plain old just don't know what to do to help. If you've never had a child, how would you know what needs this person you are visiting has? You can't! I get it. People don't understand why having a baby suddenly means you don't have time to eat, shower, sleep or any other REALLY BASIC HUMAN NEED. But that's OK. You don't need to understand it, just know that it's real. Oh, it's so real. And when your basic sense of human-ness is missing from your day to day life, it is a really amazing thing to have one of those needs met. So here's a list of helpful things you can do when you visit a friend or family member who just had a baby.

1. Bring food. Lots of it. Frozen. 

Since sleep and feedings are now the absolute #1 &#2 things on the mind of the person who just had a baby, eating starts to fall somewhere down the list to, I don't know, #5 or #6. So when you open your freezer and find a meal that you can just microwave and shove down your throat before the baby's next feeding, it is THE greatest thing in the world. Chili is a really easy one to make and to bring- it cooks easily in your crockpot, then freezes easily in one or two cup servings that a new mom in your life can easily reheat for herself. 

2. Bring Snacks in Bags or Jars. 

Its a giant joke that nature has played on new moms- nursing moms need to eat a lot of healthy calories, but they don't have any time or energy to make any of those kind of calories. Also, sitting down and eating a meal becomes a bit of a foreign concept for awhile so snacking becomes a great way to keep a nursing mom's blood sugar steady throughout the day, while allowing more opportunities for healthy calories and fats. The catch? She doesn't have time to make snacks. Homemade granola is one of the easiest - you can put it in a mason jar or ziploc bag that a mom can just keep nearby. Another great option is trail mix- nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate, etc. Or lactation cookies (they are real and they are fabulous). 

3. Bone broth

It's said to restore, warm the body, and help a new mom recover and heal. Bone broth is high in minerals and proteins and, as long as you are using pasture raised/grass fed bones, high in healthy fats at a time when a new mom needs all of these things in spades. Bone broth is also super easy to make- time consuming, since it needs to simmer for 12-48 hours, but easy (literally, throw some bones, veggies and an acid like lemon in a pot and that's it. Here's an official recipe from the good folks at Motherbees), so cook up a batch and freeze in individual cup size servings for the new mom in your life to reheat in a mug and easily sip. You could also buy bone broth from companies like OSSO GOOD, which happens to have a bone broth called "Nourish the Mama" with Chinese herbs. Need I say more?

4. Bring a gift FOR THE MOM

Most visitors who show up with gifts bring gifts for the baby, which is fantastic, but in the spirit of remembering to care for the new mom, try bringing a gift JUST for the new mom. Sometimes it's a gift to help feedings, to help her with something baby related, but in the end it's something that will make her life easier. A Duo Diary is one of the best gifts you can bring for a new mother because it is one of the only products out there that easily combines the baby's wellbeing with the new mom's. There are also gifts like the book from the aforementioned Motherbees, "The First Forty Days" which help guide a new mom's nutrition for the first 40 days postpartum. 

5.  Offer to watch/hold/feed the baby so she can go take a shower and maybe even a nap

What a new mom needs more than anything (whether she knows it or will admit it) is nurturing, being allowed to heal, and given some nourishment to get her through the hard first few months. Try doing one (or all!) God bless you. If you do all, God bless you. That woman is lucky to have you in her life!) of these items for a new mom in your life and see how much they appreciate it...whether they are too tired to show it or not. 

5 Mommy Must-Do's After Having a Baby

 
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Here in the United States, we are enamored with pregnant women. There are salves, creams, workouts, massages, drinks, foods and a whole slew of other products all geared towards the pregnant woman. Pregnancy and a pregnant woman's self care is a $266.6 million dollar industry. As it should be. There should be a ton of products and services available to make a pregnant woman's life easier and more comfortable, because despite the images of glowing pregnant women we are fed in magazines and in the media, pregnancy can be really, really hard and uncomfortable.

And then. Then you have the baby.

And this all goes away.

It seems that in our society, when a woman has a baby, she is left a little bit to fend for herself. The next industry is all about baby- nursing pillows, nursing cookies, bottles, swings and other devices, but there really isn't an industry that is focused on a postpartum woman's self care. Sure, she gets a 6 week checkup, but that number is arbitrary and often is the ONLY stop on the self care train for a postpartum woman. 

This gap is one of the HUGE reasons why Duo Diary was created. A new mom shouldn't have to fend for herself after bringing a child into the world, whether through birth or adoption. Bringing home a baby is a massive upheaval physically and mentally. At Duo Diary, we aim to help this transition be a little bit easier by encouraging new moms to take care of themselves. We also recognize a few areas of care that can help a new mother immensely in those early weeks and months. In fact, a Duo Diary can be a great compliment to some of these services. 

The catch? These all cost money. A lot of money. And are not covered by most insurance. Which is why most moms -even those that can afford it - don't splurge on services like this. In our view, these should be a given, not a special treat for those that can afford it. (Heck, most new moms probably don't even know these things exist!). But the below services can really help a new mom get on the right track with her health. So if you are looking for a unique shower gift, consider gifting one of these services (along with, of course, a year's supply of Duo Diary!) 

And while you are at it, maybe give your elected officials a ring to talk about better postpartum healthcare in this country. It's time to start taking better care of our new mothers. 

1. A Postpartum Doula

Postpartum Doulas help new mothers with the transition into motherhood by supporting a new mother with things like breastfeeding, bonding with baby, help and guidance with the new baby, and many even offer light housekeeping and will run errands. You can find a postpartum doula in your area (if available) here

2. An IBCLC

Breastfeeding is really, really hard. It can be a massive struggle for many women, physically and emotionally. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) can help a new mom navigate this process by teaching them techniques, checking latches and looking for tongue ties or other potential issues, and providing support in helping a new mom succeed at breastfeeding. Find one here.

3. A PostPartum Exercise Program

A new mom has very specific changes that have occurred to her body that also need to be healed properly- jumping right into a 'regular' exercise program as soon as you get the clearance to exercise just isn't a good idea as it can exacerbate conditions that may have arisen during pregnancy and labor, and don't address the structural changes that occur to a woman's body. There are quite a few exercise programs out there that are geared specifically to postpartum women and healing issues like pelvic floor function and diastasis recti. Mutu System, Restore Your Core, The Tummy Team, Hab It, and Fit2B are all programs dedicated to helping a postpartum mom heal. You can contact these companies about purchasing a gift program for a new mom. 

4. Moms Groups

Moms groups can help with the transition into motherhood by giving a new mom a safe place where she can discuss concerns, experiences, learn, and connect with other women having the same shared experience. This is especially vital and helpful for new moms that don't live near family. Many moms groups are offered at your local 'pumping and feeding' store, churches, hospitals, schools, or other places. Here's a great article on what they entail and how to find one.

5. A Pelvic Floor Specialist

Let's get real, your pelvic floor takes a beating during pregnancy and labor, and it is also one of the most important structures for your daily function. News flash: leaking and peeing when you sneeze or exercise are NOT NORMAL and CAN BE FIXED. Easily. Enter the pelvic floor physical therapist. A pelvic floor physical therapist helps 'retrain' your pelvic floor to function properly and can often address issues that affect other areas (like your hips or diastasis). You can find one here, or refer to this article

What services do you wish you'd known about when you had a baby?

5 Mommy Must Haves

As a first time mom, it's hard to know what products out there really work to make your life easier, and which ones don't. A lot of moms end up registering for a bunch of stuff that they never use, and as the months go on they realize that the things they use the most are the things they never registered for. So here's a list of the top baby products you'll wish you'd known about before bringing home baby!

Most babies and toddlers hate having their nails clipped or filed and this product will solve all of your nail woe issues. A battery-operated device with various file stages (i.e. softer file for when your baby is tiny and the nails are softer, a harder file for a they get older). Simply turn it on and place it on the nail, this little doo-hickey does all the work for you in half the time. 

This is the water bottle that you'll notice is ubiquitous in mommy groups and playdates during the period when your child is learning how to drink out of a sippy/straw cup. It's the only cup we found that holds up to being thrown around a lot and is toddler-tested to not leak. 

Once your baby starts sleeping, you'll pretty much do anything to keep things going that way, one of which is introducing a sound machine. Some sleep books say to introduce a sound machine to help your baby fall asleep. We say introduce a sound machine so that your baby will stay asleep. This sound machine is amazing at keeping random outside noises less jarring. 

This is the single greatest invention, ever, in the history of the world. OK maybe not, but anything that buys you a little extra sleep each night is worth it, and these diaper liners, which adhere to your baby's diaper (like a maxi pad) absorb extra wetness, keeping your baby comfortable and dry for longer at night (translation: they'll sleep longer).

Baby Logs and Journals

Baby logs can be a lifesaver for many a new mom, as learning how to breastfeed and/or pump can be overwhelming. Most new moms are also suffering from severe sleep deprivation, which is way more than just a cliche- sleep deprivation can make it hard to recall basic details like how long ago you fed your baby, which side you fed on, how many ounces they had in a bottle, or how many wet and dirty diapers your baby has had- all important questions the pediatrician asks at each well visit. Having a readily-available notebook like a Duo Diary can help a new mom keep track of all of this- with Duo Diary being the ONLY journal that also includes the mother's health! (Here's more on how baby logs can be helpful)

What are your mommy must haves??

How Work is Not Optional For Many

"When it comes to women and work, the largest myth of all is that working is somehow optional...The reality in the United States today is that earning money is an absolute necessity for the vast majority of women. And the sad truth is that we aren’t doing anything to support them or their families — not because we can’t, but because we won’t."

Read the full article here.

This Woman is Bad.Ass.

Aside from this woman apparently being made of steel (strapping a 3 year old to your back while 35 weeks pregnant!? My joints hurt just thinking about it), one of the things that stuck out to me was this quote, given that she works in a male-dominated field. Kudos to those working with her who made her feel supported.

"“Fortunately, I currently work in an environment where everyone has been supportive and understanding of my roles.'"

How Did Your State Do?

The National Partnership For Women & Families just released its report card for each state on how they fair individually in supporting new families. The NPWF states that this is "the most comprehensive analysis to date of state laws and regulations governing paid leave, paid sick days, protections for pregnant workers and other workplace rights for expecting and new parents in the United State." Phew. 

Check out the infographic below and read the full report here. How did your state do?

Mutu Mamas!

We're big converts of the Mutu System here at Duo Diary, and encourage all postpartum women to care for themselves in healthy, healing ways! Check out this great article on how soon you can 'get back to it' after having a baby.

 

"..you cannot strengthen muscles that aren’t functioning optimally. If its not working, you can’t make it stronger. All that will happen instead is that other parts of your body – namely your abdomen, or pelvic floor, will take up the strain…Or not. Because when intra abdominal pressure is just too much for these non-functioning muscles to withstand… they blow. Leaking urine, prolapse, hernia, diastasis recti, a pooching mummy tummy… these are signs of a core not working right.

Mutu System for Postpartum Health & Exercise!

Mamas, if you've had a baby, ever, please check out the MuTu System, an entire body approach to healing and strengthening post-child (even if you had your baby 10 years ago!). This system is intended to help heal diastasis, improve pelvic floor function, and tone and strengthen overall. Wendy Powell also goes into detail in her videos about alignment and why moms get that persistent pooch (and how to get rid of it, hint, it's not more cardio, more cardio, more cardio). Check it out: http://bit.ly/2bo3esp

Diastasis Recti 101 Infographic

Ladies! Check out this infographic on a very common post-pregnancy condition called diastasis recti. So much changes in a woman's body after giving birth, yet we all wonder why our old workout routines aren't doing the trick to get rid of 'mummy tummy.' Here's some insight on what's going on and how to fix it!

The Happiness Gap for U.S. Parents

"They discovered the gap could be explained by differences in family-friendly social policies such as subsidized child care and paid vacation and sick leave. In countries that gave parents what researchers called “the tools to combine work and family,” the negative impact of parenting on happiness disappeared."'

Interestingly, the researchers also found that lower child care costs also affected the happiness of NONparents. Read the full article to find out why: 
http://nyti.ms/29k3itS

Melinda Gates on The State of America's Fathers

Mark Zuckerberg's status as a father has made some waves this year, with his choice to take 2 months of leave from work and posting pictures of him being....well, a father. Melinda Gates recently wrote an article for Fatherly detailing points from "The State of America's Fathers". Read the full article here. 

3 Tips For Making a Smooth Transition From Breastfeeding to Pumping When Returning to Work

Guest blog post by Elizabeth Peters

Maternity leave has been wonderful and you have enjoyed having precious weeks to bond with your baby, but it’s inevitable that you will have to return to work soon. Preparing to return to work after maternity leave can be a stressful time. To add to the stress of worrying about having to leave the baby in childcare or with relatives, moms who choose to breastfeed exclusively also have the worry of making the transition from feeding at the breast to pumping into bottles to deal with when they return to work. While dealing with this change can be stressful, there are things you can do to prepare in advance that will make the transition a much smoother one.

Make the Transition to Pumping Before You Return to Work

Try not to wait until the day you return to work to begin pumping and offering your baby a bottle for the first time. As with most transitions there is bound to be a few bumps along the way and it will be much less stressful to get any kinks worked out while you are still relaxed at home rather than when you are also dealing with the stress at work. A good rule of thumb is to begin making the transition two weeks before you return to work so that your baby has become comfortable feeding from a bottle and you have had time to familiarize yourself with pumping. The transition will be much easier if you have both had a chance to get used to it ahead of time.

Start a Routine Pumping Schedule

When you start pumping at home, think about what times you will have available for pumping throughout your work day and try to pump at those times in the couple of weeks before you return to work so that your body gets on a routine. Make sure to stick to the routine on the weekends too, it is important to stay on schedule seven days a week to keep your milk supply ready to be expressed at the times you need it to be. Sticking to a schedule will help ensure that you get the most out of your pumping sessions when you go back to work.

Talk to Your Boss About Your Plan to Pump as Early as Possible

Showing up for your first day at work with a pump on hand and springing it on your boss that you will need breaks for pumping throughout the day isn’t a good idea. Let your boss know before you return to work what your plan is and what your needs will be. The thought of having this conversation can make some women uncomfortable, but know that the law is on your side here. The “Break Time For Nursing Mothers” law requires employers to provide new mothers reasonable breaks to express milk for the entire year following birth and that they must make available a place, that is not a bathroom, that is shielded from co-workers where this can be done. This means that you have the right to be able to pump at work, and you should inform your employer of your needs ahead of time so they can in turn make a plan to accommodate you. Giving them some advance notice will make things go smoother for everyone.

Pumping while working can take some work, but with proper preparation and determination it can be a smooth and successful endeavor.

Elizabeth Peters is a freelance writer who specializes in the parenting/family niche. When she is not writing for clients she can be found blogging about parenting on her own blog at TheMommyVortex.com. She currently resides in Alabama with her husband and two young children. Connect with her on Twitter: @themommyvortex

Interested in guest posting? Duo Diary is a great way to reach new moms! Contact us at info@duodiary.com

Here's to Feeling Good....


This quote really spoke to me- I think this is especially the case in postpartum women who may chalk up their symptoms as 'normal' (or, as in many cases unfortunately, they are told this by their healthcare practitioner). If you aren't feeling well (mentally or physically) please ask your OB/GYN for referrals -from women's health physical therapists to mental health professionals who specialize in postpartum health, there is a network of help out there! Check out our Resources page for more help!