10 Ways to Take Care of Your Postpartum Body (That DON’T Focus on Fat Loss)
I see you over there taking care of everyone else. It’s easy to get lost in the 24/7 job that is motherhood.
At the end of the day, you may look at yourself in the mirror and wonder do I know her anymore? She used to be pretty amazing.” With the constant barrage of ads for diet teas and lose the belly fat workouts, it can be easy to think we can find her, the old “us”, under the baby weight.
I know, I’ve been there.
What if I told you there were ways of taking care of your postpartum body that don’t focus on fat loss?
In the health and fitness industry, women are over marketed and underserved. The vast amount of detox teas and health wraps and quick fixes for a tighter tummy ads are enough to drive me to the sunken place (P.S. if you haven’t seen “Get Out” go watch it.) With the rise of focus to moms and women’s focused fitness, the overarching theme of marketing is often chasing the “pre-baby body”. I talk to women every day who are concerned that their tummy doesn’t look the way it did before baby or that they haven’t reached their pre-baby weight yet or their pre-baby size, women who are anywhere from 6 weeks postpartum to 3+ years postpartum.
Like losing the weight you put on to grow a whole human person is the gold standard of postpartum care.
Nevermind that those same women who are buying the 4 week abs after baby program are peeing every time they sneeze or jump. It’s time we set a better standard of care for women.
Read on for 10 ways that you can take care of your postpartum body that don’t focus on fat loss or even the size of your body at all. Because taking care of your body is WAY more than just looks.
Spoiler alert: I’m not going to tell you to spend your Sunday meal prepping or get an hour workout in every day.
This can be SUPER hard when you’ve got a newborn who just won’t sleep or a toddler who is refusing naps or with kids who still wake up at night, but I digress, rest is super important. The best thing you can do for your body is focus on giving it time to heal postpartum, resting as often as possible, and moving in a way that supports your recovery. And what if you’re out of that baby phase but STILL not getting adequate rest? Focus there first. Like Daniel Tiger says, rest is best. (Moms will understand life lessons from a kids TV show, haha)
2. Book a consultation with a pelvic floor physical therapist
I say it all the time, everyone should see a pelvic floor physio/PT after birth- no matter what that birth looked like. Getting an evaluation with a pelvic health specific PT is the best way you can give your body some love postpartum. They can assess you for any potential or existing issues such as diastasis recti, incontinence, painful intercourse, and a variety of other things. They can also give you a more comprehensive “all clear” for exercise so you can return to the activities you love safely or continue the activities you love without pain or symptoms.
Find one in your area HERE.
3. Eat foods that are easy and make you feel good
I talk to so many women who go on a diet after birth. No no no, friends. Your body needs nourishment. Hormones are all wacky in the postpartum period and diving straight into a diet can actually make things worse, not better. Plus, when you aren’t sleeping well cravings tend to be all over the place and I’m not a huge fan of restricting someone who is already under a huge amount of stress. Eat foods that are easy for you to grab and make you feel good. If this means prepping a few things on a Sunday (or having your partner do it), then more power to you! If this means grabbing fast food when you’re at your hangriest and don’t have anything pre-made, no guilt sister. Nourish yo self.
P.S.- I’m not a fan of diets anytime. If you’re still struggling with the diet mentality and just want to eat like a normal person, I know some amazing women who can help you. Reach out HERE.
4. Buy something that feels good on you
Listen, there’s a huge focus on our pre-baby clothes. I get it, we don’t want to buy an entire new wardrobe because eventually we’ll be back to that size right? Maybe.. But also maybe not. And that isn’t a bad thing. Bodies grow and get bigger during pregnancy. Often some parts don’t go back to the size they once were, bodies change. One of the best things I did after my second pregnancy was go buy workout leggings that were a size larger than my pre-baby ones. I’m actually still wearing those 2.5 years later (though in a much different looking body). If you are constantly trying to squeeze into pants that don’t fit, feeling good about yourself is impossibly hard. Just $20 can make a huge difference in how you feel about your body.
5. Focus on core and pelvic floor coordination before load or intensity
Often women are returning to high-intensity exercise like running and bootcamp classes after their 6-week check up in an effort to lose the baby weight. Sometimes women are returning here because it’s what they enjoy. Either way, the FIRST focus should be core and pelvic floor coordination. As a baby grows, the core system (abs, pelvic floor, diaphragm) get shifted all around. We’re basically adding pressure to a pressure system, so pregnant people often adopt other patterns of breathing or moving that can throw the coordination of said system out of whack. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you focus on getting that core and pelvic floor coordination back on track before high intensity exercise so you can enjoy these things without worry of leaking or pain.
6. Check in on your mental health often
I often find that women who are hyper-focused on their weight or how their body looks postpartum are actually dealing with something much deeper. Sure, being in a strange new body can be challenging mentally, but what’s the real reason behind this focus? Feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable or like you don’t know the person in the mirror are often behind the desperate need to get that pre-baby body back. Your mental health is so important all the time, but especially in that first year postpartum when so much is changing. Check in on the “why’s” behind your feelings. What’s really going on and what can you do to give yourself some mental self-care? Maybe this means taking a walk, working out, asking for help, or talking to your partner about it.
7. Start a postpartum-specific strength training program
Following up care with a pelvic health professional with a program designed for postpartum women is always a solid idea. When I say “postpartum-specific”, I mean that the coach or trainer has specific training in working with postpartum bodies, can design a program for you that helps you reach your goals in a way that aligns with where your body is right now, and takes your core and pelvic floor health into consideration. Strength training can help you manage the common aches and pains that come with constant #momming, is super adaptable to where your body is right now in your recovery, and can be super time-efficient. My group coaching program, Strong Like a Mom, is full of strength-training workouts that are designed for postpartum bodies and can be done in 10-20 minutes.
8. Go on leisure walks
Ok, so sometimes it really isn’t leisure when you’re just trying to get the baby to sleep and your toddler keeps attempting to play Frogger in real life but again, I digress, walking is really helpful for lots of things. Walking at a leisurely pace can help clear your mind, boost your mood, and settle down those crazy hormones. Of course being outside is great and getting sunshine has lots of benefits, but sometimes that isn’t possible. If you’ve got a treadmill, walking indoors when it’s freezing or rainy outside is also great. And if you’re like me and don’t have that, you can just walk around the house a couple times while picking up toys… or just go do a workout, ha.
9. Unfollow people or businesses that make you feel bad about yourself
Full stop here.
UNFOLLOW people or places that make you feel bad about yourself.
If you’re constantly logging onto Instagram and being thrown into a tail-spin of “I’m not good enough” because of a post, click the unfollow button. If you’re walking in to an appointment or a session feeling better than when you walk out, GTFO.
Create boundaries against this shit, friend. Choose to follow and do business with people who make you feel good about yourself.
10. Give your body grace and time
The big finale, grace and time. I said it before, bodies change. Bodies get bigger sometimes, smaller others, and sometimes they just stay the same. If you really start to pay attention without trying to change it all the time, you’ll notice your bodies natural tendencies. Your body does lots of cool stuff and it is meant to change shape and size depending on what’s going on. It’ll change over the 9 months of pregnancy, then it will change in postpartum, and it’ll even continue to shift and change month to month depending on your cycles. When you start to put these natural fluctuations into perspective, you’ll notice that appreciating your body is much easier to do. Your body was never meant to be one size all the time. It, just like our minds, grows and changes. Give your body grace and time.
Taking care of everyone else is a full-time job, but taking care of your body and mind is just as important. Instead of buying into the next fad fat loss regime, take some time to find the woman you think you lost by recognizing how much she’s grown. No, not in her size, but in her heart and soul.