It is truly miraculous to experience pregnancy. An entire human being is knit together in your own body. It is a privilege and honor to bring new life into the world.
As I await the arrival of my second son, it is easy to be frustrated with how he has completely overtaken my entire body. It is easy to forget the blessings that are about to be poured out as I wake up every two hours to use the restroom. However, I am graciously reminded with his little kicks that I am living a miracle. One that I cannot fully understand, but one I am honored to receive.
As I live my final days of pregnancy waddling about catching my breath as I walk up stairs, I am counting my blessings to be having a full term baby and not having to endure the trial of a premature baby. After my first baby, I wanted my pre-baby body back immediately. It was defeating. This time, I want to shift my focus to caring for my postpartum body. I want to regain my strength and energy. Baby weight does not stay forever if you return to regular exercise and healthy eating. The pounds will melt and the skin will tighten. Just as growing a baby bump is natural and beautiful, so is the postpartum period.
Nothing else in all of life comes close to the physical demands of pregnancy. Your entire body chemistry changes. Your stomach is not just a rubber band holding in a child. You have an increase in blood volume, more demands on your heart, hormone changes causing your pelvis to stretch and your breasts to produce milk! Running a marathon takes a few days to recover but pregnancy is so much more. It takes around 6 weeks for the body to heal from the trauma of child birth and longer if you require surgery. This is not 6 weeks and back to your skinny jeans, this is 6 weeks of healing the damage done. Six weeks for swelling and inflammation to resolve. Six weeks before you should even remember you used to wear skinny jeans!
In this postpartum period, focus on these goals:
1. Hydrate - you just lost a huge amount of fluid and if breastfeeding, you now need more fluid than ever. Avoid more than one cup of caffeine daily. Avoid sugary beverages.
2. Protein - delivering a baby is traumatic for your body anyway the baby comes. Provide ample building blocks for proper repair. Include a good source of protein with your breakfast and add protein to all your snacks.
3. Prenatal vitamins - trauma, stress, producing milk, and not sleeping make it hard to get everything you need. Cover your bases with a prenatal vitamin.
4. Walk - even though it hurts. Avoid blood clots and encourage healing with gentle, daily walks. Don't jump right back into your pre-baby work out routine, give your body time to heal. Be intentional about establishing a routine of gentle daily exercise in order to keep it a habit.
5. Rest - your body is spent. Your mind is overwhelmed and now you are responsible for another life. The birth announcements can wait. Your infant will grow up in no time and you will be chasing a toddler (or two!) so take some time and rest.
This is a season. A short one. The postpartum body is one to be celebrated! Marks of motherhood are badges of honor. Enjoy the miracle.
Nutrition from the dietitian
Blog of Abrea Nutrition.