I always giggle a little to myself when I hear people talking about how to “bounce back” after having a baby. That makes it sound as if there’s a way to heal up, feel energized, and pop back into your skinny jeans as soon as you leave that hospital bed, when in reality it takes a little longer than that. With the right nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to start feeling like yourself, though. So while you won’t be 100% overnight, you could be almost back to normal over the course of a few months.
Nourishing Yourself and Your Baby
Some new moms pour all of their energy into caring for their new little bundle of joy and forget all about themselves. However, in order to take care of your new family, you’ll need to take care of yourself. Sure, you may wear less makeup and throw your hair into a ponytail or braid more days than you used to, but the core ways to take care of yourself—nutrition, exercise, and sleep—are possibly even more important now than they were before you got pregnant.
You may not have time to sit down and eat for as long as you used to, so make sure you’re eating nutrient-dense foods. Planning ahead and making a lot of food at once is one of the things that will help you most with meeting your nutrition needs and keeping you from reaching for fast foods or convenience meals from the freezer section of the grocery store.
- Make a big batch of Glowing Green Smoothie. It won’t take much longer to make than just a single one, and you’ll be ready to go the next time you’re in a crunch and need something healthy. I like to store them in mason jars in the fridge so they’re there when I need something. The GGS will also help keep you hydrated, something that’s super important postpartum (but easy to forget!).
- It’s important to rotate your greens, but when you use the heartier ones, like kale, make a big salad that will last you for days in the fridge. There’s your lunch or at least the alkaline start to your lunch. (You can also make a big pot of vegetable soup or blend up a lot of Glowing Green Soup to enjoy for a couple of days and pair the soup and salad together.)
- On the days you want to use the greens that may not keep as well, go ahead and dice up all the ingredients that will (celery, tomatoes, etc) and keep those in a bowl, then just wash your greens and mix them together. For example, if you’re making our Raw Taco Mexican Salad recipe, make up the walnut taco filling mixture and chop up your tomatoes and onions when your baby’s sleeping or you have help at home, and then just get your lettuce ready when it’s time to eat.
- You can also whip up a bunch of quinoa to use as a base for some of your veggie-heavy meals like our Curried Veggies and Quinoa Recipe almost as quickly as you could for an individual serving. Bouncing back after pregnancy is all about making healthy foods so convenient, it’s easier to eat those than to go through the drive-thru.
We don’t count calories on the Beauty Detox plan, but as an idea, a breastfeeding mom needs about 300-500 extra calories per day to keep her milk supply up. A while ago, we wrote about some of the best foods you can eat while breastfeeding to keep your energy and milk supply up, and why you shouldn’t try to do a drastic detox while breastfeeding.
Sleeping and Relaxing When You Can
Your little one isn’t going to be on a schedule for a while, so you’ll be subject to his or her whims and fondly remembering those nights you used to be able to sleep for six or seven hours at a time.
You may not be able to sleep for large stretches at a time, but there are some ways to make the most of the time you do have and ensure that you fall asleep quickly once the baby’s down for the night:
- Make sure your room is cool.
- Take a quick hot shower before bed.
- Try to eat at least a couple of hours before bedtime.
- Drink a little warm almond milk at bedtime.
Some moms are ready to crash at the first sign of a quiet moment, but others may have anxiety that keeps them awake even after the baby’s sleeping peacefully.
For those moments when the baby’s quietly entertaining him or herself but there’s not enough time for a nap, try meditation. You only need a couple of minutes to boost your energy levels. You may not feel as refreshed as you might after a full night’s sleep, but meditating can cut down on the total exhaustion you feel and even help with postpartum depression.
Mood Swings and Depression
Between the hormones and the lack of sleep, you may find that your moods are all over the place once the baby’s born (sorry, the mood swings don’t end as soon as the baby arrives!). Good nutrition, little pockets of quiet time when you can take them, and light exercise (once you get the green light from your doctor) will all help stabilize your mood and allow you to enjoy this new, joyous time in your life as much as possible. Oh baby! Fitness has some great workout tips to get your body back into shape.
From a dietary perspective, making sure you’re getting enough fatty acids in your diet could help. Try walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, avocados, Brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, and hemp seeds. These will also boost your caloric intake if you’re having a hard time eating enough to keep up an abundant milk supply.
If you feel that your postpartum symptoms aren’t going away and you need some extra support, visit PostPartum.net for help. Symptoms could include anxiety, irritability, upsetting thoughts, depression, mood swings, and more, and there’s no shame in reaching out for help. Know that you’re not alone in your struggles.
A Life-Changing Experience
Having a baby is a beautiful, life-changing experience, but because it does change almost every facet of your life in some way, it may take some time to feel like yourself again. Cut yourself some slack and don’t turn the weight loss into a race. Yes, you want to lose it as quickly as possible, but there’s no need to make yourself miserable in the process. When you’re eating a clean, plant-based diet and taking care of yourself, returning to your “old” (or “new and improved”!) self will happen naturally. Don’t stress! You’re beautiful!
The most valuable piece of advice in your post is about making healthy food convenient. I “bounced back” by the world’s standard very quickly from my first pregnancy. By my 6-week doc visit, I was already 10 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. Everyone praised me for not letting myself go, for getting that pre-baby body back. The reality? I struggled with nursing and couldn’t figure out how to juggle feeding my baby with feeding myself so I didn’t eat. I was hungry all the time but I could barely find the time or energy to get to the bathroom, much less to eat something healthy or ask my husband to make something specific.
The suggestions you make are perfect. Pregnant again, I already know what I’m doing differently this time and I’ve started now. I blend double batches of smoothies so I always have something portable on hand. Big batches of soups and salads are great — and your recipes are so easy to put together!
Hi Kim, I would love to see some more information when it comes to pregnancy. Do you have any plans to focus on that a bit more? Thanks!
I always read and check your site and I love it…thanks
I would like to use an adapted version of your GGS in an informational pamphlet I will be giving out to pregnant women and women who have recently have had their babies. I want to get your permission and give you credit. I am a physical therapist and am starting a program to help women feel better during and after pregnancy. I also went to high school with you and am a big fan of your nutritional advice. Congrats on all your success!
Meredith (formerly Patrick)