It’s difficult to overstate how profoundly a woman’s body changes during pregnancy. While nature does a pretty good job of restoring your old self, there are still steps you should take to recover during the postpartum period.
Prioritize weight management after delivery. Focus on gradual weight loss with a good nutrition plan. This is far better than the crash diets and frantic workout plans in many women’s magazines. If you have difficulty losing weight, try to pinpoint the reason why.
For example, are you crunched for time and skimping on real meals? Skipped meals and unhealthy snacking not only raise your risk of developing diabetes, they make it more difficult to lose baby weight and reduce the quality of your breast milk. Make sure to keep healthy snacks around and consider using meal replacement protein shakes as snacks to help you feel full and get some nutrition into your breast milk.
Take the edge off and boost your mood. Consider using magnesium—most of us are deficient in it. Headaches, grumpy behavior, anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia—all of these are common during the postpartum period. Vitamin D, a natural mood elevator, is also at risk during the postpartum period. If you can’t get outside much between diaper changes and rounds of laundry, take a potent Vitamin D supplement—it is good for your heart, too.
Avoid temptation to skip out on exercise. Every workout gives you more energy to care for your child, boosts your cardiovascular fitness, and promotes a better night’s sleep. But follow your obstetrician’s guidelines before breaking out the Pilates DVDs, especially if you are post-C-section and need to rest for a few weeks.
Heal thyself. Your ligaments have been stretched and your nipples have been to war. The body repairs itself best at its preferred pH—7.4. That’s alkaline, yet the water and much of the food we consume in the U.S. is acid-forming in the body (we’re looking at you, baby shower pizza and cupcakes). Get your pH tested at your doctor’s office, or go DIY and get a urine pH testing kit. Alkaline water is a great way to restore an unhappy pH—it’s been filtered through minerals that are often lost in city water treatment.
Track your progress. As you monitor your weight loss, fitness, emotional well-being and pH levels, keep an eye out for any roadblocks. You might be staying active and eating great, but underlying issues may be holding you back. At Proactive Health Labs, we recommend lab testing to find out exactly what’s out of balance and find the best way to address it.
Finally relax! Stress hormones are counterproductive to body repair and weight management. Celebrate each day with your healthy baby—and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
If you have any questions or concerns, I am only a phone call away, 310-899-5577.
Monya De, MD, MPH, formerly a medical reporter for ABC News, is a specialist in internal medicine and currently can be found at Proactive Health Labs where she helps patients to be more proactive about their health. Dr. De received her MD from University of California, Irvine, and her MPH from University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, she received her bachelor’s in biology from Stanford University.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Dr. Monya De, MD, MPH, Proactive Health Labs, and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Pregnancy Awareness Month (PAM) or any employee thereof. PAM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by Dr. Monya De, MD, MPH, or Proactive Health Labs. Consult with your own medical provider regarding your individual health questions or concerns.
Dr. Monya De, MD, MPH, postpartum exercise, postpartum weight loss, Proactive Health Labs