How to Prepare Your Body & Mind to Navigate Postpartum Life

Bouncing back is a myth.

By Hailey Andresen

When I was pregnant with my son a few years ago, I remember well-intentioned female friends assuring me, “Don’t worry, you’ll bounce right back after your little one is born.” As a first-time mom, I assumed this meant back to what my body looked like pre-pregnancy, which now I know is impossible.

Our bodies grow and change and create a new life. How could we expect exercise and healthy eating to “bounce” them right back to their previous states?

After becoming a mother I had to rework my relationship with my body. I began dressing differently, and no, I’m not talking about mom jeans. I mean that I started dressing in looks that actually flattered my body type and made me feel good. I began eating more nourishing foods and taking better care of my body and mind. Now that I’m inching closer to my due date with baby number two, I’m better equipped to have some positive control over how I feel about my body postpartum. Here are a few ways I’m preparing myself:

Get A Jump Start on Your Postpartum Wardrobe

Of course it’s impossible to know how your body will settle after labor, but I’ve been doing my best to pick up a few things that will bridge that gap between maternity clothing and my pre-pregnancy jeans. A new pair of overalls (one of my favorite postpartum staples the last time around), a pair of cute and comfy Levis a couple sizes larger than I would usually wear, and plenty of breastfeeding-friendly tops will all make those initial days of dressing at home with a newborn that much less intimidating. 

Start Healthy Eating Habits Now

In my first pregnancy I definitely embraced the eating for two mindset, but this time around I’ve thankfully changed my tune.

t’s always tricky to find that healthy balance between caring for yourself and treating yourself, but it’s a balance you have to try and learn how to achieve. 

Here’ some steps I try and follow to make it as easy as possible:  

–Establish a regular weekend grocery trip to get everything you need for a week of healthy meals and do your prep.

–Have some set meal staples and snacks you can turn to when things are crazy busy. 

–Call in the backups when your baby is born. Let your friends bring over meals, save your shopping list on sites like InstaCart and order instead of running out. Grocery delivery never made sense to me before becoming a mother, but now I’m a big fan.  

–If you’re planning on breastfeeding, do a little research on what your body might need. You’ll be surprised just how hungry you’ll get, and it’s important to have healthy snacks around that nurture your milk supply!  

–Allow yourself some treats. I mean you just had a baby – you deserve a little indulgence.

Develop a Realistic Workout Plan

The reality is, you aren’t going to be able to do a whole lot right after the baby is born. If you’re a workout fanatic, try to take a deep breath and realize this time will be over before you know it.

Make sure you’re checking in with your doctor, and wait to dive in to fitness until you get their go-ahead.

Here are a few ways I’m developing a realistic workout plan with a newborn:

Find a workout app (or a few) that you think you might like. Since I’ve been doing this during my pregnancy I already feel like I have a solid foundation of workouts with Tone it Up, but look around and find out what app might be best for you. These workouts are great because you can take the classes on your own schedule, do them at home and truly feel results. 

–Connect with other parent friends or join a mom-group now. There are so many great ways to be active without signing up for a class. Most moms are probably on the same page as you might be – interested in connection and wanting to be active. The earlier you reach out the better you’ll feel and the more accountability partners you’ll have in your corner.

–Order your baby carriers or strollers now to make sure you’re prepared for long walks with your baby. 

–If you’re feeling goal oriented about your workouts, discuss with your doctor about what’s realistic and build up to it. Be easy on your body.

Take care of your mind.

We all have our own definition of self-care, and for me it’s a combination of everything above plus taking care of my mind. Like I mentioned previously, bouncing back is a myth and the sooner you accept that, the healthier you’ll feel.

Embrace the way your body and mind have evolved through the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Getting in the right headspace is crucial!

Here’s what I’m doing to prepare mentally:

–Find a meditation app or track that you enjoy. I personally love Headspace and their variety of meditations, but there are so many great apps out there. Start experimenting now so you can put a routine in place when your baby is here! 

–Limit your time on social media. If you have an iPhone you can easily access exactly how much time you’re spending on these sites and apps by opening up the Screen Time information in your settings. Set limits on the apps you feel necessary. 

–Make sure you have a support system in place. Postpartum depression does not discriminate and even if you don’t experience PPD, it’s super helpful to have someone to talk to – family, friends or a professional. 

–Try to take 5-10 minutes for yourself each day. I know it doesn’t sound like much but starting off small like this is sometimes the only way. Read, take a shower, listen to a podcast – do something for you if you have the time available.