As a new mother you need a quick guide to nutrition and exercise. What are the key things you can do that will give you the maximum results?
I’ve set out my best practical tips below to help you lose any extra weight you are holding after having your baby and to help you keep your energy up as a new mother.
Nutrition Tips For New Mothers
1. Eat more protein
If you want to lose baby weight or just keep up your energy as a new mother, make protein your focus. Most women do not eat enough protein to support their own needs and when the business of being a new breastfeeding mother kicks in, it gets even harder to do so. I’ve written more extensively about the need for protein in previous posts.
Protein recommendations for breastfeeding mothers are even higher than women generally (1.1g/kg of bodyweight compared to 0.75g/kg for women generally).
That means a mother who weighs 75kg needs 82.5g of protein (or about 4 meals with 20g of protein in each). What serving size yields 20g of protein?
- 100g meat or fish
- 4 egg whites (or 2 eggs + 1-2 whites)
- 1 serving of protein powder
Check out my in-depth portion size guide here.
Protein powders, in particular, are a great choice for new mothers because of their convenience. Make sure you choose one that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners and a lot of ingredients you don’t recognize. Usually you are better off shopping at your local organic store than a fitness supplement store if you are looking for a clean protein powder. Use your protein powder to make shakes or stir it into oatmeal to boost up the protein in your breakfast. I’ve found shakes work well for as a breakfast for new mothers – especially if they lay out the ingredients the night before so they can quickly put breakfast together while looking after the kids. Shakes also make a good snack or even a meal in the pinch when you don’t have the time or energy to cook something.
Start by building your meal around protein and then fill up the rest of your plate with veggies and carboydrates (ie. rice, quinoa, oats, potato) and a bit of fat.
I’ve created the Female Fitness Portion Size Plates that you can print off and put on your fridge as a guide. You can get them here.
2. Invest in a good multivitamin
Even if you are eating perfectly healthy everyday, studies have shown that it is near impossible to obtain all the vitamins and minerals you need from diet alone. Breastfeeding mothers have even greater requirements for certain nutrients including vitamin D, calcium, zinc and folic acid. It’s a good idea to have a multivitamin to keep your levels and energy topped up.
Exercise and Motivation Tips For New Mothers
3. Set reasonable goals and be flexible
If you mistakenly set goals that are as high as you would have set pre-baby, you are likely going to fail (unless you are one of those super achieving new mothers – we all know at least one).
You are going to have to be more gentle with yourself now. You will have days when you just can’t exercise and that’s ok. If you exercised everyday before the baby, a good starting goal may be to exercise three to four days per week. By all means, schedule those workouts in but give yourself flexibility to change them. Don’t give up because you can’t get in every workout you plan. An “all or nothing” mentality won’t work for you.
For new mothers, walking, especially with another new mother, is a great option because you don’t need childcare. Walk, walk, walk and even if you can’t find time to “exercise” you can walk instead of driving for many errands.
If you have the budget for it, many gyms offer some form of childcare or “mum and bub” classes. Or sometimes personal trainers with their own studios will be willing to run classes for you, especially if you approach them with a group you’ve organized.
My online program is super popular with new mothers because all workouts can be completed in only 20-30 minutes and you’ve got the option of a Home or Gym version. Learn more about online training here.
4. Ask for help
Don’t feel guilty about asking for help or taking time out for yourself. Women usually think they should do it all themselves and feel guilty about taking an hour out to exercise. But leaving your baby with your partner, grandparents, or in childcare so you can get a workout in is perfectly fine. A lot of new mothers raise their eyebrows in surprise when I suggest this, but trust me, at some point you need to start taking time out for yourself.
At some point you need to start taking time out for yourself.
If you are a stay at home mother, get your partner to commit to being home at the end of the workday at least a few times a week so you can have that hour to go to the gym or bootcamp. I see too many women miss out on their workouts because their husbands have sports or are at the gym after work. Your workout time is as important as his so schedule it in with him.
Keep it simple
My final word of advice is to keep things simple. Prepare simple food and always cook in bulk so you have leftovers. Use a multivitamin to top up your diet and give your body some extra support. Keep your exercise routine simple too. A couple of high intensity gym sessions along with walking on the other days is a perfect routine for a new mother.
By keeping it simple, you’ll feel like its more do-able and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.