CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
I had a baby girl six weeks ago -- my first. My daughter is healthy, so that is the best blessing ever, but I am exhausted and don't recognize my own body. I know I need to exercise, but I really have no energy. Any tips to make me feel good about myself again? -- Carla
Congratulations, and welcome to motherhood! Your frustrations are shared by all new moms. There's nothing more life-changing than a baby. Most of the changes are joyous; however, some are a little harder to appreciate, such as the disappearance of your pre-baby figure and your energy supply.
Here are a few tips that may make you feel less stressed and more in control about what to expect from this point forward:
Your body is healing and you've just reached the time (with physician's clearance) when you are able to begin exercising.
Understand your belly is going to look and feel puffy and like Jell-O -- probably not how you remember it. You'll have the linea nigra (dark line on your abdomen) and if you had a C-section, you will also be dealing with an incision that's healing.
When you start into labor, your belly is like an inflated balloon. When you deliver, it doesn't just pop, it slowly deflates because everything inside you, including your uterus, must shrink back to a pre-pregnancy size.
You'll lose about 11 to 13 pounds when your baby is born. Chances are you gained at least double that. If you are eating healthy calories, this weight loss will happen naturally, but it is a process.
Getting rest cannot be emphasized enough as this helps you heal as well as shed pounds. If you are breastfeeding, you will expend an extra 600 to 800 calories a day, which is a bonus.
As you feel your energy and muscles resurfacing, you can get back to your normal physical activity.