The postpartum period is one of the most delicate phases in a woman’s life. It begins right after delivery and lasts until the mother’s body returns to the pre-pregnant state, says Dr Vinoda Kumary, chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute. Over the course of these six to eight weeks, the body goes through a number of changes, both physically and emotionally. During this time, mothers need to take good care of themselves so they can rebuild their strength.
Get enough rest
New mothers need plenty of rest. This is difficult because their biological clocks are not in sync with the newborn’s. Usually, a newborn wakes up once every three hours or so and needs to be fed, cleaned and comforted. This can be an unnerving and exhausting experience for first-time mothers. Getting eight hours of continuous sleep might not be possible for the first few weeks. If you are the father or a close family member, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that mothers are relieved of all their responsibilities except feeding and taking care of the baby. If you are a new mother, try to sync your sleep schedule with your baby’s. After the first couple of weeks, you may also use a feeder to store breast milk and assign someone in the family to feed your baby so that you get an uninterrupted sleep.
Nutrition tips for new mothers
In addition to rest, you need to eat healthy to heal and recover from childbirth. Many young mothers look to shed the extra pounds immediately after pregnancy. However, weight loss programs are not recommended during the breastfeeding months. Although there are no special diets for a breastfeeding mother, the following dietary recommendations should help you focus on your eating habits during the breastfeeding months.
Drink plenty of fluids – You tend to feel more thirsty when you are breastfeeding. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, juice and milk. Although liquids can be in any form, it is advisable to limit the intake of caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Don’t force fluids once your thirst is quenched, but hydrate yourself frequently or whenever you feel a bit thirsty.
Don’t compromise on your diet – You should not ignore your hunger pangs while feeding your baby. According to experts, breastfeeding mothers should eat at least 2000 calories a day. Apart from this, they need a healthy dose of essential vitamins and minerals to support their health. Some food categories rich in nutritional value include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and dairy products.
Yoga asanas for breastfeeding mothers
Practicing yoga can help facilitate the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. It improves blood circulation, stimulates the pituitary gland, aids the secretion of prolactin and increases production of breast milk. It also help with post-pregnancy weight loss and relieves neck and back pain caused due to breastfeeding.
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Start the day with Surya Namaskar on an empty stomach. It gives your body a 360-degree workout and has a positive impact on your mind as well. Yoga poses that are particularly beneficial for breastfeeding mothers include Tadasana, Ardhachakrasana, Trikonasana, Bhadrasana, Setubandhasana and Shavasana. Clavicular, thoracic and abdominal breathing techniques can help complement the poses. Wear loose-fitting cotton clothes to facilitate ease of movement and never perform them when you are exhausted, ill or under acute stress. Yoga asanas are best performed on an empty stomach. If you feel weak, have a tablespoon of honey in warm water before you start. Make sure your bowels and bladder are empty before you start practice, and do not eat anything for at least half an hour afterward.
There are contra-indications for each of the yoga poses and it is best to practice them after you get the go-ahead from your doctor. If you are new to yoga, practice the poses under the tutelage of a trained and experienced yoga teacher. It takes some time to see results, so consistent practice is essential.