Q: Hello Doc. This will be my third message to you. I hope u reply this. What should I actually do after delivery to make my body return to normal. Ave been giving several advice and now am confused. Please, take me through what to do.
A: Hi dear, thanks for writing in. The first thing people worry about is if they don’t take pepper soup with special spices, then they might have problems conceiving later. But there’s no truth to that! 😀 These are, usually, spices used to make Nigeria’s specialty pepper soup for women who just delivered. I understand the spices are meant to increase blood flow and help the tummy return to its normal size. The good news is, you don’t need the soup to have good blood flow or for your tummy to return to normal size.
Exclusive breastfeeding, usually, is for 6 months after which other feeds are added. Aim to do this for your next baby…except there’s a medical reason why this cannot happen. Breastfeeding helps the process of the womb contracting and returning to its normal size (involution). This process takes about 6 to 8 weeks and the womb (uterus) should be back to its pre-pregnancy state. Note that I said that breastfeeding speeds up this process, but even without it, the uterine involution continues. Trust me, I did not have the Mbaise udah and aju and I managed to have three children with no issues 😀
Having said that, the major things that help your body return to normal are diet and exercise….oh and breastfeeding, as I mentioned above. However, breastfeeding is not very helpful if one is not exercising and watching their portions. Again, the dictum of feeding for two here does not also count.
The diet to focus on is the very same one we talk about all the time: fruits, veggies and complex carbs with focus on healthier cooking methods (less frying etc). Exercise should focus, initially on pelvic floor exercises especially if you are leaking urine when you cough or laugh. To locate your pelvic floor muscles, try holding your urine when you feel pressed. If you are successful, then you have located the muscles you need. Then empty your bladder and lie on the floor. Contract those same muscles, hold the contraction for about 5 seconds, and then relax it for about 5 seconds. Gradually build this up to holding the contraction for 10 seconds. Repeat this about 3 times a day. Once you no longer leak, you are ready for your exercises.
Have you noticed how it is usually easier to lose the baby weight after your first baby and harder afterwards? 😀 Focus on building up your stamina gradually especially if you were not very active in pregnancy or before. Please always remember to contact your doctor before starting any vigorous exercise program. As you get into the groove, get down with your aerobics, strength training and sit-ups et al.
This is where breast-feeding comes in, if you’re exercising and eating right, breastfeeding can help lose weight…as much as 300 calories per day. Does tying a wrapper tightly round your waist help flatten tummy? Honestly, I have heard people who swear by that technique. So, what I will say is, if it works for you, why not? Just do not tie so tight as to stop blood flow 😀
How soon to start exercise after having a baby? Well, it depends on how active you were before and during pregnancy. If you were very active, you can start some light stretches as soon as you feel able. However, generally, we advise 6 – 8 weeks after birth to allow for a post-natal check to have been done. Again, start small and allow your body to get into the groove.
I hope this helps.
Good night y’all 😀