Postpartum! I can see how the depression can kick in (I'm not suffering from it, but I definitely can see how people do; totally understandable). Having a new baby is fun and sleep depriving, but it hasn't changed my life all that much. I still have other kids who have schedules and places to be, so my life's schedule is the same---minus sleep.
However, my postpartum body has been a shocker. Pain, bleeding, leaking (you know what I'm talking about, moms...), along with a pelvis disorder that has made it so I feel like I can't do anything! My boobs hurt all the time and we've both suffered thrush already (ouch! Pain in the boobies x10000!), and life is just not glamorous.
That being said. Life is better. Every time Eleni screams and wakes up at night or needs my attention, I can't help but smile when I see her face. I can't believe this is my little human. I've been taking each of these moments as bonus times I get to enjoy her at her current age. She changes every day! She looks like a new person every day! It is SO crazy how fast it goes by. I enjoy every second I get to spend with her because I know it's going to be gone in a flash.
Before I get into my physical routine, here are some postpartum tips I have gathered from my short experience:
1. Nipple butter.
I did not use nipple butter the first 2-3 days and ended up having cracked, bleeding, incredibly painful nipples that scabbed over. I had to do deep lamaze breathing to get through breastfeeding her every time. DON'T RISK IT. I now put coconut oil on after every feeding.
2. Dress in nice clothes.
Yes, immediately. I cannot express enough how gross your body is going to feel, and I strongly believe that this can be a factor in postpartum depression. Put on makeup! Wear a normal, cute outfit, at least when you go out. Do your hair when you have time! Eat healthy good foods, but don't go super crazy. Eat to feel good (like REALLY feel good, not feel good in one moment and then hate yourself later). Do not let this stage in your life make you give up on yourself. Once you let yourself go, it's easier to let yourself go in other areas (marriage, weight, etc.).
3. Wear a girdle, spanx, or corset.
Support your stomach! Not only does wearing a girdle help you shrink your uterus, it helps support your stomach muscles so they can heal properly.
4. The contractions won't last forever.
When I was breastfeeding for those first few days, I got horrible contractions. After my incredibly long latent labor, I felt traumatized to the point that I started crying when these new contractions (to shrink the uterus) happened. I was worried that they wouldn't ever end, just like my labor seemed to never end. THEY WILL. Even after feeding I would still feel them and would have to cope the same way I did during labor. This is a short phase! A day or two for me and it was NOT every time I fed.
5. Do pelvic floor exercises IMMEDIATELY upon birth.
This is no joke. I was horrified when I had my first #1 and #2 and discovered I couldn't shut down either of those at will. Doing kegels and pelvic floor exercises will help you heal! It is no joke. Take care of your lady parts. Also, do not think you can jump into an exercise program 4-6 weeks postpartum without having built up your pelvic floor first. If you want to exercise ASAP, you need to be doing this immediately after birth. Strengthening your pelvic floor should be your priority. The exercises may seem so small, but they will help strengthen your core AND lower pooch. Please do not try to take on any exercise before building up your pelvic floor.
6. DRINK WATER.
Drink water like you never have before. It will help your body function better, produce milk, eliminate excess fluids, and make you feel so much better. Also, if you are like me, you will sweat pounds of fluids every night in bed. It's super gross. You're going to have to change your sheets A LOT. This is your body's way of eliminating that fluid retention you have. Also anther reason to drink more water.
7.. Say yes to help.
Yes when your mom wants to hold the baby. Yes when your friend wants to make you dinner. Ask your husband to watch the baby so you can have a bath. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am notorious for wanting to feel like wonder woman, so I ALWAYS feel guilty for saying yes or for asking for help. My first two years of marriage I had an incredibly hard time asking my husband for help with the kids. I wanted to do it all and be amazing. It wasn't healthy and was too much pressure on myself to the point that I was somewhat resentful. Don't think you're not amazing because you ask for help or say yes. Take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone else with a better attitude.
8. Focus on the positive.
Those moments where you are awakened every 10 minutes through the night or have a colicky baby in your arms with other children running around you needing help with homework or getting to school....breathe. This stage in life is short. Be comforted by the fact that you get to be there for your infant. Look at his/her face and focus on the fact that it will change rapidly every day as a baby and be thankful you get to soak it in so much.
9. Make humor your best friend.
This is my MAIN piece of advice! I am soooooo ridiculous right now. I say the silliest things to the baby when she's screaming ("I will not negotiate with terrorists" being my main middle of the night line) and say it all cute style so I make myself laugh. Be the funniest person you know. Putting humor into tiring situations gives an extra energy boost and takes the negative feel away from the situation. Poop explosions, changing clothes, bath time, etc... make light of it all. There's nothing sillier/better than making yourself laugh through those times.
And on to exercise....
Alright, so I overdid it a couple of days my first week postpartum. I tried walking on the treadmill, which was ridiculous. I did squats, which wasnt all that bad. And I did pushups, which was probably the most appropriate. But what I didn't do as much were my pelvic floor exercises. I did kegels every day, but the only other exercises I should've done that first week were more pelvic floor exercises. I hurt myself walking because my pelvic floor was too weak and I had pubic symphysis. I was trying to jump in too fast. So at the end of week one I focused more on just pelvic exercises.
Week two I continued with pelvic floor exercises and stretching, but also added in doing a 2 minute bridge, 1 min plank on my knees, 100 pushups, and 100 tricep dips every day. Before you gasp, I started out with wall pushups. Then I did counter pushups. Then I did modified knee pushups. I slowly built myself up and didn't want to put too much strain on my abs yet.
I did the same routine as above, but started taking my knees off the floor for my planks. I also did as many pushups as I could normally, and then dropped to my knees to finish out my set.
I started PiYo this week. I did my pelvic floor exercises for warmup, and did my 100 pushups/tricep dips on upper body days, and then 2 min bridge and 1 min plank on lower body days. I took all lunges and warrior series easy because my hips and pubic symphysis were not quite healed completely, but they definitely had gotten soooo much better! I feel like I could walk on the treadmill if I wanted. I felt really great doing PiYo and have no regrets easing into that program.
My plan is to continue doing PiYo and extra exercises (as listed above, maybe incline walking added) until 6 weeks postpartum. After that I'm going to start a more intense exercise routine (21 day fix starting Feb, follow the challenge pack link to get yours on sale this month and join me in my journey!) to shed these last 12 pounds I'm hanging on to! My goal is to lose 8 pounds (actually my first goal is 5 lbs..), since I'm breastfeeding and not sleeping I feel like I shouldn't stress myself to get right back to my most fit weight. But I definitely am confident that 8 pounds will just come off with a moderate exercise routine and maybe a bit more sleep (fingers crossed for that!).
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