Saturday, May 16, 2015

Postpartum Recovery & Weight Loss

Postpartum recovery.

Easier said than done.  Well, at least for first-timers I would think.  I have been planning out my recovery plan since my second trimester, really because enough people tell you crazy stories that you know you don't want to go into it blindly.  I wondered, how was I gonna feel?  I had many autoimmune symptoms prior to pregnancy, as well as gut sensitivities.  I wondered, how would my body change?  Oh gosh, it sure does!  These are questions I wanted to prepare myself for.

Oh and my friend the scale.  I haven't weighed myself in a long time minus knowing my weight at the OB's office.  One...because I don't like scales (I spent enough years obsessing over my identity being a number that I could care less now).  Two...because I've been too busy with my son to care.  But I was pleased to see that when I decided to check my weight 10 days postpartum, I had returned to my pre-pregnancy weight (though toning is needed!! :o))

How?  I think there were a few factors.  I want to help guide you through how I managed my weight gain during pregnancy, and how I navigated the beginning of my postpartum recovery.  Fortunately,  through guidance of many friends and mamas with more wisdom than I can fathom, I was able to start this journey.

Let's start:

1) Don't eat for two.  Sounds crazy right? Everybody and their mom will tell you with a big smile on their face, "Don't forget your eating for two!" Except no.  If the average female needs 1800 calories a day, should I be eating 3600 for my pregnancy? Yeah, you get the picture.  I think a lot of women go crazy with this, and you know what, that's totally ok.  But know that it will be more challenging or take longer in the postpartum period to get to your pre-pregnancy weight.  I don't think there is a right or wrong number for any woman (despite what your OB says) to gain while pregnant, but rather, I think you should go by how you feel and by consumption of a nutrient dense diet.  I incorporated these two factors into my diet plan and ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full.  I didn't concern myself whether I was gaining or losing weight as long as my baby boy was growing healthy and strong.  Your body is smarter than you think, and more often than not, knows what to do.

So where is all the weight gain when your pregnant?  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists gives us this breakdown: seven to nine pounds is the baby, four pounds is extra blood, one to two pounds is the placenta, two to three pounds is the breasts, one to two pounds is the amniotic fluid, one to two pounds is uterine enlargement, two to four pounds is increased fluid volume, and five to nine pounds is new stored fat.  Is this the standard for everybody? No, definitely not.  It wasn't for me, so I would't expect it to be for everybody.  Bottom line: your body knows best, and if you are eating a nutrient-rich diet you will gain an appropriate amount of weight that is appropriate for you and your baby.

2) Walk Often.  Daily activity is critically important to your overall health, and especially during pregnancy!  The old school way of thought was women shouldn't do any exercise while they are pregnant, but there is no current literature that supports those assumptions.  Daily activity, whether it be walking, running, yoga, or whatever you choose, will help prepare your body for the endurance of delivery and help it bounce back quicker during the postpartum period.  Of course, don't try to start running if you never have run before during pregnancy.  Walking and yoga are both great places to start if you are not used to exercising but would like to stay active during pregnancy.

Here is a great article by Baby Center with 13 rules of safe pregnancy exercise, which is helpful to review prior to and while exercising during pregnancy: http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-13-rules-of-safe-pregnancy-exercise_622.bc.  Even more important, listen to your body.  If you decide to run during pregnancy, you should be able to run at a pace where you can still talk or sing comfortably.  I remember around week 29 of my pregnancy, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions during running.  That was my cue to stop and regroup, and I switched to the elliptical at the gym.  Again, at a certain point, I started getting uncomfortable, and that was when I switched to walking only.  Listening to your body and treating it with respect are critical parts of pregnancy, postpartum, and being a mom in general!

3) Bone Broth and Gut Restoration.  This is a priority.  I try to have a cup of bone broth every day in this postpartum period.  Why?  Bone broth is rich in protein, enzymes and minerals to help your gut and body.  It contains glycine, which supports the body's detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other chemicals within the body.  Bone broth is also rich in gelatin, which plays an important role in both digestive and skin health.

Why do you need gut restoration after having a baby?  Having a baby puts a lot of stress on the gut!  You lose trace minerals, as the baby is taking some of the good stuff it needs to grow.  Also, baby is depending on you for a healthy gut with good bacteria.  Clinical research has proven that there is a difference between the microbiome of a baby born vaginally compared to a baby born c-section.  Babies born c-section have a significantly lower level of "good" bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and lower bacterial diversity than vaginally born babies, putting them at more increased risk for particular diseases.  No reason to fear though!  Keeping your gut healthy and strong, especially while breastfeeding, is your baby's number one defense against disease- whether they were born vaginally or c-section!

4) Placenta Encapsulation & Supplementation.  If you had told me I would be eating my own placenta even just 2 years ago I would have said you are crazy.  In fact, part of me still feels crazy for doing it!!  But it has been by far one of the better decisions I have made.

Consuming your own placenta postpartum can help decrease the chances of postpartum depression, postpartum hemorrhage, repletes iron levels, and can increase milk supply.  Other women cite that it helps give them a boost of energy and decreases stress.  If those aren't selling features, I don't know what is!!  In fact, most other cultures practice placental consumption.

I definitely did not feel a major change in hormones when I got home from the hospital, nor at any time following delivery, and I think a good deal of that was related to consuming my placenta.  How can you go wrong consuming the very thing that helped nourish a new human being in it?!

In regards to supplementation, I have become quite into supplements over the past year, mostly because I realized my body was depleted in several vitamins and minerals, and also because I did not feel like I was getting enough of the vitamins from my diet.  As a result, I take several supplements now in the postpartum period, as I feel both me and baby are benefitting.  I won't go into detail about my specific supplements here, but I will say, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to continue taking your prenatal during the postpartum period at the very least.

How do you know what's right for you?  Work with a physician you trust who analyzes important labs, such as Vitamin D and B12, and who is familiar with hormonal changes and the adrenals to come up with the right supplementation plan for yourself.

5) Relaxation, meditation, and praying.  I cannot say enough about these three tools while pregnant and in the postpartum period.  As someone who has lived most of my life in the fast lane with two many things on my plate, I have learned to pass on commitments and how to say no.  Do I miss opportunities?  Surely, I must.  But I firmly believe that God didn't put me on this planet to see how much I could occupy myself with to fill my day.  He gives us a purpose as part of his plan, and if we are too busy and consumed with day-to-day things, we will miss out on this.

I am a big believer in epsom salt baths and routinely have done them in my pregnancy and postpartum period.  Check out my link at http://thefoodcure.blogspot.com/2014/08/rest-relax-and-take-detox-bath.html to find out more about how you can set up your own epsom salt bath.  In addition, I believe daily meditation and prayer are important.  No matter what religion you are, you can find peace when you clear your mind and practice relaxation and deep breathing.  Daily prayer for me has helped me find comfort through many storms and trials...not just during pregnancy and postpartum.

I hope this helps you find some suggestions and ideas for your postpartum recovery.  Feel free to comment or message me further for more specific help, questions, or suggestions.  Everyone has a unique experience in pregnancy and postpartum and each experience is completely BEAUTIFUL <3



Blessings,

Lindsay 





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