1. Stay Prepared by Strategizing Your Meals
Pinterest just might become your best friend during pregnancy. After the baby’s arrival, those meal-prep recipe boards definitely come in handy. “Batch food prep for your own lunches and breakfast along with dinner,” Suzanne Brown, author of the Mompowerment book series, says, emphasizing focusing on our own meals. “We’ll often do meal planning and prep for family dinners but not for ourselves.”
She also adds what we could all use a reminder of: “Drink water — as much water as you can, and do whatever trick to make that happen.” She suggests setting a timer as a reminder to drink, having cups or reusable bottles ready in the fridge, and keeping flavoring on hand.
2. Put Your Village (or Family) to Work
Moms agree on this one. “Get help! Get all the help!” says Cristen, 40. If you can, don’t be afraid to lean on your spouse, if only for an hour or so. “The first couple of weeks, my husband made me take two hours away for myself every day, says Melissa, 38. “I’d go to a coffee shop and write in my journal or just sit by myself in a park. It was about as long as I could be away before I got engorged, but it was so necessary!”
Everyone tells new moms to rest, but getting good rest can feel impossible when there’s no plan in place for things to get done. Suzanne suggests having a friend or sitter pick up groceries or paying an online delivery service to do it for you. Luckily, moms have more options today for having everything from groceries to clothes to wellness come to you. From subscription clothing services to customized meal plans from wellness programs like Noom, most of the things on your to-do list can be easily outsourced.
“Nature intended us to raise kids with the support of our community. You are not weak if you reach out for that support,” says Kate. “You are building your community.”
3. Go to Therapy — Physical Therapy
Back pain, lower-body changes, and soreness are all common after childbirth. Even the mom who isn’t necessarily feeling pain has undergone a physical shift and can benefit from therapy.
“Go to physical therapy! I did after my second and so wish I had with my first, says Grace, 41. “It just helps get the healing, re-aligning kickstarted, correctly.”
After childbirth, scar tissue actually forms on the pelvic floor muscles. Cara, 39, recommends a specific kind of physical therapy: “Pelvic floor therapy! Huge help and so few women know about it.” Pelvic floor therapy works on imbalances in the lower body, releasing tough membrane tissues, core strengthening, and pelvic stabilization. The benefits of physical therapy after childbirth are both short term and long term — and a good way to invest in your recovery.
4. Catch Some Zs a Few Hours at a Time
Getting rest is easier said than done. Your body just went through a major experience, though — you need it. Remembering that your rest is more important than the laundry or whatever other undone chores in the home that seem to be glaring at you just might help. Kate offers a simple trick for getting in some rest here and there.
“Prioritizing your well-being is one of the healthiest things you can do,” says Kate. “That means strategizing to get three-hour chunks of sleep so you can go through a full sleep cycle and get to the more restorative phases of sleep, eating at regular intervals, and getting support.” Give yourself time to heal as much as possible in a world where things will constantly pull for your attention.
5. Get Moving However You Can
“Get outside, especially if you can get a good walk in,” says Shannon, 36. “I went for a walk every day after my first son was born, and it was essential for my physical and mental/emotional health.” The simple act of soaking in some sunshine is good for your mood, making walking the ideal low-impact exercise postpartum. If the weather is nice enough, you can even stroll with baby along. The most important thing is to get moving.
“Move your body whenever you can. It’s not only about going to an hour-long workout class,” Suzanne says. “If you can only fit in a 10-minute walk one day, that is still OK.” The key to feeling good and staying healthy is remembering it’s a lifestyle. A wellness program like Noom is a great way to keep track of your physical activity and foster healthier habits, even when you feel like there’s not enough time in the day.
6. Be Patient With the Process
Your body just produced an entire human being. It deserves a break, and you deserve to take your time. “I was in a lot of pain for two months after birth, and sometimes even doubted if I could love my children again because the pain absorbed it all,” says Lieve, 34. “Thankfully, I practiced taking it day by day, or better said, the pain helped me practice that.”
In the weeks after giving birth, you probably won’t feel like running a marathon. Give yourself grace, and celebrate your seemingly small wins, like the first time you got out of bed to use the bathroom after baby. In the wise words of Lieve, “You don’t have to be something, just be.” Trust the process, and trust your body.
7. Reaffirm Yourself and Show Your Body Love
The celebrity bounce-back after baby is everywhere. It’s hard not to compare your post-baby body to Kate Middleton’s. Avoid the temptation to compare yourself to other new moms. “I stopped following really fit women on IG. I dialed into Facebook groups with real women for motivation,” says Tiffany, 34.
As you eat nutritious foods, rest when you can, and get help from family and experts alike, don’t forget to turn to yourself. You have to show your own body love. It’s not the body you had several months ago, but it’s yours — and it just did something amazing for you.
“I meditate with my kid,” Tiffany says. “I write down words of gratitude for my strong body that carried my baby.” Think about all the ways it nourished your baby and how it takes care of you now. Take care of yourself by first being good to yourself.