Being a new Mum is a big challenge but also very rewarding. With this new life also comes new lifestyle changes, some of which are unexpected… like forgetting to eat, wearing the same pair of clothes three days in a row, or foregoing your exercise routine in favour of simply just watching your bub sleep.
Even though you’re now focusing on a whole set of different things, it’s still highly important to ensure you are making time for fitness and nutrition for both your baby’s health and yours! Finding the time for this can be hard, so read on to find out how to easily slip good, wholesome eating and fitness back into your life!
If food for the day consists of… well, one and a half pieces of cold toast and a few bites of banana, it’s time to check yourself! Eating healthy and nutritious foods are absolutely essential while you’re breastfeeding. Not only are your nutrients passed on to your bub through your milk, you also need to stock up energy supplies to produce it.
Breastfeeding works in a supply and demand cycle – the more your bub feeds the more milk you will make. And to make it requires a lot of energy on your body’s behalf!
The following are key nutrients every Mum needs for energy and healthy milk production:
- Calcium: During pregnancy and while breastfeeding your bub will use a lot of your calcium to build their bones and teeth. It’s essential to replenish your stock by having at least two and a half serves of low fat dairy a day.
- Iron: Iron transports oxygen around your body and without enough of it you will end up feeling weak and tired. Lean red meat is a great source of iron, protein and B12 – all which are essential for keeping your energy levels up.
- Iodine: Iodine is a must for lactating women, as it helps with healthy thyroid function and the growth and development of tissue. It can be found in bread where iodised salt has been used, seaweed, oysters, cheddar cheese, tinned fish as well as most plant foods (depending on the iodine levels in the soil).
Whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and plenty of water are also necessary to keep energy levels and milk production up. In fact, new mums need to add an extra 500 calories to their diet per day in order to meet their milk production and nutritional needs!
Now you know what nutrients you need, it’s a matter of finding easy ways to fit it into your diet and daily routine.
But first, breakfast!
Having brekkie every morning is the number one rule and should not be broken! Both you and your bub will benefit from the energy you receive from this meal, even if it’s something simple to whip up. Our quick and healthy go-to’s are:
- Fruit salad with yoghurt + pepita and chia seeds
- 2 WeetBix and milk
- Tomatoes on toast
- A healthy breakfast smoothie
- Baked beans or boiled eggs with vegemite toast
You’ll thank yourself when you’re on the go and can get an energy hit from the snacks in your bag. Always have on you:
- A banana, or another easy to eat piece of fruit
- Ham and cheese, or vegemite and cheese wrap
- Small bag of nuts or trail mix
- Water bottle – it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated! Invest in a time-measured water bottle so you know how much you should’ve drunk at particular times of the day.
Keep an eye on G.I
Go for low G.I foods. As they are absorbed into the bloodstream slower they won’t cause sugar highs and lows. They are also a more stable supply of energy and will keep you fuller for longer. Try:
- Sweet potato instead of regular potato
- Grainy or sourdough breads
- Low fat dairy
- Basmati rice over Jasmine rice
Voome Fave: Healthy Smoothies!
Throughout the day as you breastfeed you are losing fluid. Make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water – smoothies will help too! Not only are they filling and hit a lot of your nutritional needs, they’re easy to make on the run!
- Bulk prep smoothie ingredients into ziplock bags and refrigerate or freeze, so everything is there when you need it!
- Include some fruit to keep your blood sugars up
- Add some form of protein to your smoothies using nuts or nut butter
- Add ground Flaxseed and Omega 3 – both are great for you (and your bub’s) brain!
Getting back into shape
The question on many new mama’s minds is “When can I start exercising again to get rid of this baby weight?”. Then… “How can I find the time for this?”.
The first thing to do is have patience. Although magazines and Instagram might show celebs losing their baby weight in only 6 weeks(!), the reality is that nine months to a year is a healthy time period to get your body back.
Depending on your fitness levels during your pregnancy, only you will know when your body is comfortable and ready to get back into intense exercise. Before doing any impact work (or anything above walking), it is good to do the Pelvic Floor Test, to ensure there is no leakage and that your pelvic floor is ready for impact.
Pelvic Floor Test
- Drink 600mls Water
- Wait 20 minutes
- Jump up and down for one minute
- Cough twice
- If there is no leakage you are good to go ahead with impact work
If you’re at a point where you’re ready and raring to go, but hard pressed to find the time the following exercises will only take up about half an hour of your day!
- If you only have a few minutes here and there throughout your day, pick a workout routine and break it up into smaller five to ten minute chunks. Doing 6 x 10 minute workouts in your day is just as effective as an hour long session. Our blog on five minute exercises will show you how it’s done!
- Aim for a 30 minutes (an hour would be even better) of walking outside with your bub. It’s important for you to get fresh air, movement and a clear head space. Doing this with a friend is also a great way to catch up and stay motivated.
- Start strengthening your core! Ab exercises are great to do in the living room while your bub plays or sleeps. Read our blog here for an abdominal workout you can do anywhere.
- Make sure to include active stretching into your daily routine. Cradling your baby for long periods of time can give you a tight chest and shoulders. Particular stretches that are good for your back and spine are:
- Lower Body Twists
- Knee Hugs on the ground
- Single arm stretch – immediately after feeding.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises a.k.a Kegels. As we mentioned earlier, before getting into any impact activity or sport (i.e. running) it’s important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This should be done daily either lying, standing or seated. To do this draw your pelvic floor muscles up – don’t squeeze like a bicep – rather imagine stopping yourself while you wee, and zipping up a tight pair of jeans. It might feel weird at first, but you won’t regret doing them down the track!
Now that you have someone else in your life, don’t forget about your own well being! Your nutrition and what you eat has a huge factor on your ability to produce milk, as well as passing on nutrients (particularly calcium, iodine and iron) to your bub. When you’re strapped for time, eating healthy is easier than you think. All that’s required is a bit of planning and always having a ‘whole’ food or something healthy in arms reach.
When it comes to exercise, the first thing to work on are your kegels! Get these right before moving on to higher impact workouts. But remember, above all, to be easy on yourself and know that patience and persistence is key to getting back into shape!