Her diet was adjusted significantly during the first trimester of pregnancy. After having bad morning sickness all day, she had to find solutions, but they didn’t always contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Now in her second trimester, Patricia Shelley works hard to get in a well-balanced diet that includes veggies and fruit at dinner and lunch and healthy snacks in between meals.
New moms and newly pregnant women have many new responsibilities to balance. Some have found the best way to maintain their health after having a baby is to make and keep healthy goals during pregnancy.
Shelley is an exercise and wellness major working as a personal fitness trainer at the BYU gym. She has always worked hard to make a healthy diet and exercise a part of her life and realized learning how to adjust to pregnancy was essential to her new lifestyle.
“It was scary when the doctor told me I had to gain 25 to 30 lbs,” Shelley said. “One thing I’ve found though from experience, and learned in my classes, is that the human body is really smart. It knows how to take care of itself and will conserve and reserve calories depending on your need — not that we shouldn’t do our best, but we don’t have to stress all the time.”
Shelley is already setting post-pregnancy goals. She plans to get down to her pre-pregnancy weight within six months after having the baby. Knowing that taking care of her new child will create a challenge concerning exercise, she plans to get a jogging stroller, use workout DVDs, find Pinterest workouts and have her husband help babysit.
Setting healthy living goals during pregnancy like Shelley has done creates good habits before the new baby is born. Michelle Andersen, a student nutritionist on campus, said women do not actually need to eat too many more calories when they are pregnant.
“A lot of women feel when they’re pregnant they can eat whatever they want,” Andersen, a dietetics major, said. “That’s not necessarily the case. You still need to be getting all your basic food groups and not a ton more.”
Keeping healthy will also help new moms as they work to balance their new responsibilities. Shelley said maintaining her health post-pregnancy will strengthen her relationship with her children.
“Being healthy and fit is really important for me,” Shelley said. “I feel like, for me personally, I’ll be a better mom for my little one because of the confidence I’ll have in myself and the energy I’ll have for my baby.”
Lisa Draper, a BYU graduate, also realized after having her first child that taking care of her own body was vital in caring for her family. For her own emotional health, Draper was sure to nap as often as she could and enlist her husband for support and a listening ear.
“I realized that as difficult as pregnancy and caring for a newborn are, if one doesn’t care for their own body, everything else becomes much more miserable,” Draper said. “Don’t make it harder on yourself.”
And, perhaps most importantly, every new mom will have different experiences and will make their own judgement when it comes to what is best for them and their family. Alena Turner, a new mom who studied recreational therapy, emphasized being patient with yourself.
“I think it’s most important for people to stop trying to kill themselves over pregnancy weight gain,” Turner said. “Your doctor will tell you to wait until six weeks to do any exercise, but I say be honest with yourself and wait until you’re ready. I support intuitive choices when it comes to diet and exercise in order to be healthy.”
Five tips for getting back into shape post-baby.
1. Start moving.
Incorporating aerobic and strength training exercises will help you burn calories while keeping your muscles and bones strong. Melinda Johnson, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, told WebMD that consistent exercise will also help with depression, sleep issues and relieving stress.
2. Eat Super Foods
Your body needs maximum nutrition when you’re a new mother. Foods you choose should be heavy in nutrients and lighter in fats and calories, says WebMD. Milk and yogurt are good choices for foods high in calcium, and protein from lean meat and chicken will help you feel full longer.
3. Sleep when your baby sleeps
Advice from healthywomen.org tells new moms to stop worrying about getting things done while your baby is napping. As time passes and your strength is regained, you will be able to stay awake for longer periods of time.
4. Eat, Drink and Rest Intuitively
On her blog, Living to Truly Live, Alena Turner advises new moms to listen to their own bodies and their new babies to decide what best healthy living steps they should take.
“Everyone’s body heals differently, and everyone adjusts differently to motherhood,” Turner said on her blog.
5. Stay Positive
Turner also advises to focus on the love you have for your new baby and the little things that make you laugh and smile.
“If that doesn’t work, try switching things up,” Turner said in her blog. “Strap your baby to you or a stroller and get outside. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Or set up a short babysitting time with someone willing to watch your baby while you and your husband go and get ice cream.”
You can visit Turner’s blog for additional tips at livingtruetotrulylive.wordpress.com.