When you’re caring for little ones it’s hard to make time to care for yourself. Here are some simple health tips for sleep-deprived moms to keep you going.
The early days of motherhood are filled with joy, wonder and lots of snuggles. But they are also filled with sleepless nights, round-the-clock feedings, gassy tummies and lots of diaper changes.
Could you say that again? I was nodding off.
Being a mother of young children is exhausting to say the least. They require all of your attention and energy.
But that doesn’t mean you have to put your health and well-being on the back burner. Whether you just gave birth or you’re still nursing an energetic toddler there are some simple strategies any mom can use to stay healthy during this tiring phase.
You don’t need to add to your to-do list, buy special equipment or see an assortment of doctors. Follow these five simple health tips to keep yourself healthy and better able to care for your precious child. Plus I’ve got a bonus tip for those with older kids!
1. Do not diet.
It’s tempting. You want to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. You want to get back in shape. But dieting is not the way to maintain your health. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When you have an infant or toddler, especially if you are breastfeeding, it is critical that you consume sufficient calories every day.
Your body needs energy to recover from pregnancy and birth (calories = energy!). You also need all around nourishment, including a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. There is no way to get what you need if you are cutting calories.
Dieting will also slow your metabolism, making you feel even more tired. Make sure you are eating plenty of food to meet your body’s needs. There is no set number of calories, but most women should consume a minimum of 2,000 calories a day just to maintain normal bodily functions. Increase that if you are breastfeeding or even mildly active.
2. Move your body gently.
Exercise is good. There’s no doubt about it. But what is better is movement. And during the infant stage your body does not need extra stress in the form of strenuous exercise. Instead try gentle movement throughout your day.
This can mean taking baby for an easy walk outside, doing a short yoga session or simply playing with your kids.
The goal postpartum is to allow your body time to recover. Recovery does not happen during periods of stress, which includes hard workouts. Save the marathon training and ab sculpting for when your kids are older.
One exercise routine you should include is core strengthening that is safe for diastasis recti to support your back and internal organs.
3. Get some sleep.
You may be laughing at this suggestion. It sounds simple yet impossible when you have a little one. But it is often overlooked. Make sleep a priority. During sleep is when the body works on reparation and healing.
Nap when the baby naps. Go to bed by 10:00 pm. Ask for help so you can rest.
You will feel better and recover faster.
4. Make your food count.
A calorie is not a calorie. You need to make your food count with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Most moms in this phase are dealing with poor adrenal health. This means adequate carbohydrates and starch are essential. Carbohydrates can be anything from bananas and sweet potatoes to white rice and sourdough bread. Whatever works for your body. But no low carb diets.
Most of your food should be nutrient dense and give your body important vitamins and minerals. Some easy power packed additions to your diet include:
- salmon (with bones and skin)
- raw milk
- liver (raw, lightly cooked or dessicated)
- grass-fed collagen and/or gelatin
- raw egg yolks
- unrefined sea salt
- a variety of saturated fats, including butter, coconut oil, lard and tallow
- bone broth
- well-cooked vegetables
Your vitamin and mineral stores will be replenished by eating enough nutrient-dense calories every day. This will also help with milk supply and energy.
5. Stay home.
One of the biggest mistakes moms make is trying to get back to their normal routine as soon as baby arrives. This does not allow your body enough time to recover.
It’s ok to stay home and decline invites or even say no to visitors. Focus on your kids and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t jump back into the rushed pace of life. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor has five kids and a new activity planned every day. Take the time to enjoy this short phase of life and not add extra stress.
Simplify meals, schedules and to-do lists. You and your children will be happier. When you are rested and recovered you’ll have fun being out and about. But when you are exhausted and undernourished it’s ok to just stay home and rest.
The infant and toddler stages are hard and tiring. Take care of yourself. Nourish yourself. Remove stress. Enjoy your little ones before you blink and they are not so little.
Let the kids help!
If you have more than one child a great way to not feel so stressed is to get everyone involved in the day-to-day duties. That includes cooking!
The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse has open enrollment next week. My kids LOVE the course. They have learned so much (and so have I!!). You can get a little taste of it with these FREE knife skills videos.
A sleep deprived mom can improve her health with simple changes that will have a positive impact on the whole family. Make the time to take care of yourself and invest in your kids by teaching them responsibilities too.