NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Dear Soon-to-Be and New Mommies: You Can Do This!

GettyImages-1060547970Today, the realities of the human body immediately after giving birth are less mysterious than ever, a development some attribute to a changing climate around motherhood. In the past women felt like they couldn’t talk about the after-effects of having a baby, let alone caring for other children at the same time.

Everything Is Different and There Is Pressure from All Directions

People don’t talk about the messy postpartum “situations” that take place, the frustrating and sometimes painful process of figuring out breastfeeding, the wound care necessary for the area the baby came out from, oh and let’s not forget waddling around the house wearing whatever undergarments can hold everything together. And how about the best-kept secret of icepacks!

And how can we forget the added stressors of life in general. Maybe you’re hearing and feeling things like this:

  • Make sure you work out during your pregnancy.
  • Be sure to only gain 25–30 pounds throughout this whole 9 months.
  • Don’t forget to take care of the other kid/kids you have.
  • Please make sure that report is on my desk by 9am tomorrow.
  • Clean the house.
  • Work 40+ hours a week.
  • Make dinner.
  • Drive the older ones to school and sports.

And on and on and on…

DON’T PANIC! It’s natural to feel exhausted and unfamiliar in your new body and new life. From the time you become pregnant to the time that you give birth, each is a new beginning and an exciting chapter in your life.

The mental difficulties of pregnancy and the first few months after giving birth can be more challenging than the physical effects. Your body will begin to change from its previous state back to its new normal: shedding water weight, frequent trips to the bathroom (again), after-birth contractions as the uterus shrinks back down. If you are breastfeeding or not, there will be pain involved. Let’s not forget the hormonal change that will take place. All of this can lead you to having “baby blues” or feelings of postpartum depression. You are trying to adjust to a new life and a new baby, and these stressors can cause low self-esteem and doubt.

Tools for Confidence in the Postpartum Time

Do not give up! You are the same strong woman who just grew a child and gave birth, and you are who you have always been, but now you have someone else to share your strength with. The more you start to believe in yourself, the happier you will feel and be. Some stress relievers that helped me during my “baby blues” moments are the following.

Get Some Fresh Air

Getting outside for fresh air can help lift your mood. There are also many benefits of walking that include stress reducers. Take a walk by yourself, or take that precious new baby out for some fresh air.

Communicate

Having a new baby can make you feel as though you are alone. Making an effort to connect with friends, join a mommy and me group, or reach out to other moms can help you indulge in adult conversation and not feel isolated.

Take Time for Yourself

Ask for help. Making time for yourself will not only allow you a minute to breathe, it will also help you become a better mom by taking care of yourself.

Feel More Secure

Body confidence is typically the first issue that woman deal with after giving birth. Your body has spent the last 9 months stretching to make room for a growing baby. As long as that took, your body needs time to recover. Most of us do not bounce back as quickly as we would like and that’s okay. After having my first child, I felt like I bounced back better than I had anticipated, but the second one made me feel otherwise (and still does!). My body changed so much after having my second child. One of the hardest things for me was not feeling confident and realizing that this is my new body.

Love the Skin You’re In

Even if you don’t have anywhere to go, try to get up and make an effort every morning. Wear your favorite outfit, put on a little bit of makeup. Find a way to feel good about the day at the very beginning.

Make Time for Healthy Eating and Exercise

Probably the hardest of them all are these two! Without a doubt, eating healthy and exercising tend to be the last things on our minds after having given birth. The best advice I can give you is to plan ahead. During those months where nesting sets in and you have energy to get things done like the nursery and shopping, throw meal prepping in there as well so that you’ll have some healthy options ready to eat after the baby comes.

When it comes to exercising, once you are cleared after 6 weeks, start slow and build from there. Try bodyweight exercises, or walks working into a jog/run. When stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, find a friend to join you at the gym, find a class that you can ease intensity into, or join a program geared toward weight loss/strength. Find what fits you and your schedule.

The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love

Well soon-to-be, new, and veteran moms, I am here to tell you that the world is unfair, the jobs we have as mothers will continue to be the hardest jobs we’ll ever have. We will have good days, we will have bad days; we will have days that we want to run, and days when we have conquered the world. There will be days where we ask ourselves why we decided to do this, and days where we doubt every decision we made. It will be a constant cycle, of good, bad, bad, good, and so on.

Whatever situation you are in currently, I can say with confidence that YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS and YOU CAN DO THIS! There is no greater creation than that of a woman. LOVE YOURSELF! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! and ASK FOR HELP!

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To Learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: depression stress walking anxiety bodyweight pregnancy self-care self-esteem postpartum self-confidence

Exercise and Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy

ThinkstockPhotos-585091536.jpgAfter spending some time a few weeks back with my pregnant sister-in-law, it dawned on me the essentials of knowing what to do in terms of nutrition and exercise during each trimester of pregnancy. We spent some time working out together and talking about what is safe, what to avoid, and the changes that the body goes through. And while most of the blogs that we write tend to revolve around our comfort level and expertise, I thought I’d get out on a limb a little bit and write about some key things regarding exercise and nutrition while pregnant.

 

Trimester 1 (Weeks 1–12)

Nutrition: Not a lot of nutrition changes occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. During this time you might experience some of the more common unpleasant side effects of all of those hormones your body is producing—mainly nausea. Most research shows the best way to keep the nausea at bay is to constantly keep some food in your stomach. This could be crackers, fruit, half a sandwich, yogurt, etc. The key is to eat frequent meals throughout the day. For those that have nausea the worst in the morning, this might mean setting an alarm in the middle of the night to have a snack. Your calorie needs are not higher during this time and your weight should stay the same.

Exercise: During your first trimester, it’s typically okay to continue most things. You should continue whatever workout program you have been doing. Exercise is good for both you and your baby to assist in your mood, energy levels, weight, and overall health, so keep exercising; and if you don’t currently work out, try to start moderately. While most exercise is good, there are some things that you want to avoid. Make sure you avoid exercises done laying on your back, movements where your feet are in the air above your head (common in yoga and headstands), too much twisting of the abdomen, and explosive movements. Pay attention through the entire pregnancy to your temperature: keep yourself cool and regulate your breathing, being sure not to be overly strained.

Trimester 2 (Weeks 13–27)

Nutrition: The key thing to keep in mind is that you are not eating for two. Your body and your baby require only an additional 300 extra calories per day for the second and third trimester. Ideally, these calories will come from food sources that are good for you and the baby. Here is a list of important nutrients and an average goal to achieve:

  • Protein: 75–100g each day to help with brain development and increasing your blood supply for the baby. Lean sources such as chicken, cooked fish, pork, eggs, beans, and nuts or nut butters are important to incorporate at meals and snacks. Keeping track with a food-logging app such as MyFitnessPal is the easiest way to reach your goal.
  • Calcium: 1,000mg each day to help form the baby’s bones and tooth buds. This is around three to four servings of dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, or cheese each day. In addition, eating foods such as leafy greens and fortified foods is another way to reach this goal.
  • Iron: 27mg per day is ideal to help increase blood volume. The best sources of iron are leafy greens, whole grains, and lean seafood.
  • Folic acid: 600–800mcg per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This can be achieved by consuming a balanced diet with plenty of fruit, veggies, whole grains, and lentils.

Exercise: It is important to continue your fitness routine; however, you want to choose activities that are low impact like walking or swimming. Most exercises during this trimester are safe in moderation. Because of the muscles being distended, you want to avoid exercises that are done overhead like the military press. Also, be sure to eliminate jumping exercises or things like outdoor biking where there is potential to fall onto your stomach. Continue to avoid exercises on the back and keep your heart rate and breathing under control.

Trimester 3 (Week 28–birth)

Nutrition: While trimester 2 and 3 follow the same nutrition guidelines, there are some important things to keep in mind with foods while being pregnant. Some foods have been known to cause harm to the developing baby. The best way to avoid this is to be sure all meats have been cooked to their proper temperatures. Also, reducing or eliminating the caffeine from your diet is recommended. Sticking to 200mg or less per day (the amount in 1 cup of coffee) is ideal. In addition, avoid fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, and mackerel and have only small amounts of canned white albacore tuna. Finally, deli meats have been known to have listeria, so if you are eating it heat up your meat in the microwave to kill any possible bacteria.

Exercise: It is important to continue low-impact exercises. If you are a runner or someone used to high- to moderate-intensity exercise, make sure that you consult your physician before continuing your routine. During the third trimester, there should not be any lifting of heavy weights due to the stress it puts on the ligaments. Again, do nothing on your back. The important thing is to get adequate rest and hydration as you prepare to meet your little one.

As you can see, exercise and nutrition are both essential pieces to having a healthy pregnancy and birth of your child. If you have any questions regarding either your exercise routine or nutrition, consult your doctor at the start of your pregnancy to ensure a safe trip down baby lane!

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager, and Angie Mitchell, Registered Dietitian. For more information about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: exercise nutrition fitness center pregnancy

Helping Picky Kids Get Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-474735668.jpgHas dinnertime become the dreaded time lately? Getting picky children to eat can be very frustrating. Children of different ages may respond differently to various tactics. Here are a few ideas for how you can get your child to try (and hopefully like) new foods, and get better nutrition.

Pregnant and Lactating Women

Some research shows that the foods that a woman eats during pregnancy may “program” the fetus’ food preferences later in life. Both amniotic fluid and breast milk take on flavors and odors of the foods mom eats. When pregnant and breastfeeding, try these tactics:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods to expose your baby to an assortment of flavors and smells. This may reduce the chance that your child will be a picky eater.
  • Avoid a diet based around junk food. Your need for additional calories is not a good reason to eat food that contains no nutritional value. Doing so may increase the amount of sugar needed to experience reward in your child’s developing brain, possibly leading to loss of control and binge-eating episodes later in life.

Infants

Feed your baby variety. It often takes the introduction of a new food ten times for a young child to develop a taste for it. Most babies grimace at every new food. Keep trying a food and your baby may learn to like it.

  • Introduce vegetables before fruits so that the child does not get used to eating sweet foods all the time.
  • When eating several different foods at one meal, introduce new foods before familiar favorites. If they do not know mashed bananas are available, they may try the lima bean puree.
  • Do not avoid foods because you do not like them. Your child may learn to like different foods than you.

Toddlers and Children

As with babies, toddlers may refuse foods—not because they don’t like them, but because they begin to realize they have a choice. Let your child make other decisions, like what book to read, or what clothes to wear, but not what to eat once the food is on the table. A toddler’s growth may be slowing down, so they may eat less. If they are not eating, they may be full from snacks or juice, or they may have been served a portion that is too large. Babies and toddlers will not starve themselves!

  • Eat with your children, and eat the same things. Dad can’t avoid green vegetables, and mom can’t avoid bread or starchy vegetables; your child will pick up on that and think they can avoid certain foods, too.
  • Turn the TV off. Young children need to focus on eating, and distractions such as cartoons will keep them from eating.
  • Make foods fun! Arrange a fruit salad as a smiley face. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes.
  • Let kids play with their food, and be tolerant of messes! It helps kids experience the food’s texture and smell, and will help them eat it, too.
  • Make dips out of cottage cheese, tofu, yogurt, guacamole, peanut butter, or pureed fruits and vegetables. Your child can dip fruits and vegetables, rice cakes, toast, or other nutritious foods.
  • Find a fun character-inspired cookbook, choose a recipe, and make it together.
  • Serve one food at a time, keeping other options out of sight. Start with new foods or foods the child does not like as well first, and then add familiar foods and favorites.

More Tips for Parents

Here are some more ideas that will help make mealtimes more pleasant:

  • Don’t force your child to eat anything.
  • At most meals, try to offer mainly healthy choices.
  • Allow your children to ask for seconds.
  • Do not force your child to finish a meal, even if they want dessert.
  • Deemphasize dessert as a prize; don’t make children finish their vegetables to get it.
  • Have your children rate new foods with a pre-made “New Food Chart”: have them draw a happy face if they like it and a sad face if they don’t.
  • Finally, praise the child for trying new foods. That will encourage them to do it more often.

Hopefully by trying some of these suggestions, you can get your kids on the road to healthy eating—and start enjoying mealtimes more!

Related: Back-to-School Nutrition with Lunch Makeovers

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating snacks lunch kids pregnancy lactation