6 Tips for Staying Healthy as a New Mom

Jenny and HagenMarch 4th 2018 will be a day that forever changed my life. My husband, Josh, and I welcomed our first child, a baby girl named Hagen, into the world. People always told me that having children would, "change your life," "is the best thing that could ever happen to you," and "is like no experience you will ever have," but you just never truly grasp that until you hold your child for the first time. And yes, while my life has changed immensely over the past year, I wouldn't have it any other way. Like any change, you simply learn to strategize and adjust with the new way of life.

Here are six tips & strategies that any non-RD can easily do to find balance as a happy and healthy mom:

1. Don't diet

Getting back to your pre-baby body might be weighing heavily on your mind, but it’s best to try and maintain your focus on adequately nourishing your body for both you and your baby, especially if you’re a breastfeeding mom! Have patience when it comes to losing the weight you gained during pregnancy. Your weight will naturally return to your desired range in time with a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Let go of that mentality to "bounce back" or drop the baby weight. Instead, be kind to your body and work on building compassion and self-care. If we develop body kindess and positivitiy, we are more likely to include the healthy balance our body needs versus being ashamed, unhappy or negative toward our body. These thoughts and feelings often lead to behaviors that are restrictive, impulsive, and overeating.

2. Listen to your body

Just as we often let work, household chores, and other to-dos become our main focus, as new moms, we understandably let the focus of taking care of our baby become top priority. While necessary, this can often lead to exhausted mommas with eating patterns that are out of balance. It’s important to pay attention to the cues your body is giving you to avoid getting overly hungry. Eating at normal intervals may be challenging, but it's really important to eat every 3 hours or so to produce nutritious breastmilk if you’re a breastfeeding mom. It will also avoid major energy lulls (which can trigger irritability and loss of patience—can anyone say “hangry mom?!"), to heal properly, and to maintain your overall health. Start to tune into those hunger cues and don't wait until you are starving as this could lead to overeating and choosing less than healthy choices. 

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help

Moms are superheroes! Think about what you just did—you brought a baby into the world! Moms can do some amazing things, but it’s easy to try to take on way more than we can handle. This might be my number one piece of advice as it didn’t come naturally for me, but I’ve learned to embrace it. Being more of an independent person, I quickly found that tackling my normal daily routine in addition to caring for an infant was quite the challenge. I had days where I felt exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotional. To avoid these feelings, I encourage you to simply take advantage of the help others are offering. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, because honestly, you can’t and you shouldn’t have to either! It’s best to just ask for help or guide them in order for you to get the support you need and deserve! 

4. Have healthy hand-held snacks within reach

Whether you’re holding your baby, rocking baby to sleep, or feeding baby, as a new mom, you’ll often find your hands are full. This might cause you to unintentionally skip meals or snacks which could lead to inadequate nutrition, and as we established above, is not good for you or baby! To make life easier when your hands are full, I suggest having snacks & beverages within arm’s reach. Consider going for hand-held snacks, like granola or protein bars, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, to name a few. Always keep water handy as well to avoid any excuse of not staying adequately hydrated when your hands are full! 

5. Meal prepping & planning

While scheduling and following a specific meal plan may not be realistic as a new mom, there are things that can be done on a weekly basis to make mealtime healthy and a bit easier:

  • Buy a couple of pre-cooked rotisserie chickens – add to soups, salads, sandwiches, or enjoy as the main dish!
  • Buy a few varieties of pre-made salads – use these as lunch or dinner entrees, or divide it up and use as a simple side dish. 
  • Buy two or three packets of microwavable whole grain rice – not only will this save you time, but you’ll also have a great source of fiber to add to any dish. 
  • Have smoothie ingredients on hand, including protein powder, spinach, frozen fruit, coconut, cashew or almond milk, or any other ingredients you enjoy!
  • Keep cut up fruits and veggies within sight – having these nutritious nibbles within eye’s reach will encourage you to enjoy these between meals. Mix it up by munching on these with yogurt, hummus, or your favorite low-fat dip!

When life settles down and you start to find a routine that works for you and baby, you may find more time to focus on creating a more specific meal planning process. This could include setting aside some time (maybe during baby’s nap time!) to create a plan for your weekly meals. Having a schedule of planned meals may prevent that last-minute mealtime panic of “what am I going to cook?!” from happening. Learn more about meal planning in my blog, 3 Benefits of Meal Planning!

6. Take some you time

We all deserve a little “me time” once in a while, especially new moms! This goes back to not being afraid to ask for help by allowing others to pitch in, giving you a little down time for yourself. Whether it’s as simple as taking a short nap, reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV show, going to a workout class (Cycle or Complete Mix at Mettler are great options!), or going to lunch with a friend, these are some simple ways to hit the reset button from the daily stresses of being a mom. Believe me, the time you take for yourself is not only good for you, but it’s good for your baby too!

 

Jenny Cutler is a registered dietitian at Mettler Center. Have a nutrition question? Ask the Expert or schedule a FREE 15-minute Meet the RD online or by calling (217) 356-6543.