After the longest ever labour followed by a crash section with Little Z, I didn’t really know if I was coming or going and it took me about a year before I was ready to start thinking about myself. That sounds like a really really long time but I was so sleep deprived, I was constantly on the search for my next nap and I remember the Other Half used to coax me into going onto the laptop. I’d look at him slightly bewildered and ask why??? Did that have precious baby sleep information on it? And he’d remind me I needed some chill out time. I was a big mess now I think about it, for at least the first 5 months of his existence.
This time, with Baby E, things can’t be more different. Ok I’m sleep deprived but its not an earth shattering life changing experience that I need to get to grips with. I have semi-professional mum skills and life already changed a few years back. So this time, its more of the same as wonderful as it is and it means I’m thinking about myself a lot sooner.
So for anybody who’s just emerged into the post-baby domain, here’s a few things I’ll be trying to do to get somewhat healthy.
A good diet post baby
I had grand plans to put on a lot of weight during my pregnancy, eating whatever the heck I liked, especially cake. As luck would have it, gestational diabetes got me and I quickly had to change my sweet and carb heavy diet to one where I was testing my blood sugars 5 times a day and controlling the carbs no end. The diabetes has magically disappeared since E came along and the temptation to now stuff my face is pretty high. I had a whole list of cakes mapped out but, sadly, my body couldn’t really take too big a splurge. It’s taken me a good few weeks to start eating cake again and I do love it. I just can’t live off it anymore, as much as I’d love to.
Whilst some celebrities have shed the pregnancy pounds through a no-carbs diet, such an eating regime can prove a little expensive for those of us who might not be able to afford grilled salmon on a daily basis! I would give it my very best shot with steak though, if I could!
The main thing to realise seems to be not to go straight into a major diet whilst breastfeeding. Instead, many blogs recommend that we try and balance our hormones with plenty of zinc that can be found in red meats and nuts, whilst keeping our vitamin B6 levels topped up with lots of broccoli and bananas.
This time round, and learning a bit from the last time I was trying to lose my pregnancy weight, I’ve found the following has really helped me:
Water. Water. Water! Whilst it doesn’t take away complete tiredness from feeding a baby round the clock, it does keep my hydrated and my skin from feeling like it’s gone completely dry. I’m sure the nice spa lady would still tell me I don’t drink enough.
Lots of Fruit and Veg. I learned to love a lot more fruit during pregnancy with GD as it gave me a sweet fix through the day. It was a bit like my new drug and whilst it in no way replaces strawberry laces I did completely fall in love with donut peaches.
Nuts. There are some amazing nut selection boxes right now and yes, they can be high in calories but they also contain a heck of a lot of good vitamins in them. This is why I have bought several tubs of dry roasted peanuts. Honestly.
Cake. Because everyone needs some delicious cake sometimes. Even if you can only manage a sliver right now. Just make sure ALL of the cream is in that one sliver.
Getting sleep post-baby
Baby E sleeps a million times better than Z ever did. I’m not really sure why. Maybe its that he entered the world in a much calmer way than Z did. Maybe we’re much more relaxed overall. Maybe Baby E just realises how fantastic sleep is.
Right now we are still in the patchy sleep stage and these are getting better there are still nights where I can literally feel my eye twitch because of the tiredness and wonder how I’ll look sporting an eye patch.
These things have definitely helped this time round:
Having a long hot shower / bath in the evenings. Preferably with some very nice bath products. One of my best friends gave me a box of luxury products when E was born and, wow, are they nice. It really does relax you after a frazzled day.
Sleeping when the baby does. I’ve done this a lot better this time. There are definitely days when I don’t manage to nap and I guess its not just possible when you have an energetic four year old and spellings and reading to do but the catnaps do help a lot.
Having a very comfy bed to maximise the quality of sleep. If your bed’s a bit battered and / or you absolutely adore and are addicted to storage space (like me!), then now’s the perfect time to check out the Bedstar website and research how a divan bed that comes complete with storage drawers could prove particularly handy for hoarding all the new baby clothes.
Blackout blinds. These really do help. I’ve found Baby E sleeps much better upstairs than he does when he’s snoozing downstairs in the Moses basket. (The NHS website also has many other helpful sleeping tips for new parents which are probably a lot more professional than mine!).
Exercises post baby
That’s not me running by the way. I can’t remember the last time I did that!
One thing I need to start doing is going for walks again. I did it with Little Z and it helps my tummy muscles a lot. Having had a c-section has meant I had to take it very easy for a good few weeks, but I’m now at the stage where I can start doing gentle exercises again and walking is one of them.
One big thing some women find is that their tummy muscles are not what they used to be. At some point I’ll be trying to strengthen my core muscles again and toning up my tummy muscles again. Or at least trying to. That’s my mission for the new year, starting off gently, maybe about 10 minutes a day. Seriously, I am that unfit!
(If you’re a new mum who just stumbled onto this page in a sleep deprived stupour during a night feed then hello. and Congrats! And I hope you get some sleep soon!).
(*Written in collaboration with Julie Simmons)