Tiffany Ayuda

How to Prepare for the Emotional, Physical, and Social Realities of Life Postpartum

How to Prepare for the Emotional, Physical, and Social Realities of Life Postpartum

“You might experience some crying, but it is mild and will start to go away around the two-week mark, if not sooner,” says Dr. Kaeni.But if your symptoms are more severe, such as lack of interest in your baby, having feelings of hopelessness or shame, and having thoughts of harming your baby or yourself, those are red flags of a more serious postpartum mood disorder (PPMD), like postpartum depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).With postpartum depression, your symptoms are more intense and last longer. For example, you may feel hopeless, have low energy, and cry a lot, Dr. Kaeni says. And if you have postpartum anxiety, you might have generalized worry or have specific worries that are hard to manage. You may also have intrusive thoughts that come out of nowhere.“For example, some people may have a worry that they’re going to drop the baby. And if you continue to think about it, it can take on an obsessive compulsive quality,” Dr. Kaeni explains. “They might stop carrying the baby because they’re so worried that they’re going to do something that harms the child, and it’s not because they actually want to harm the child. It’s the fear that’s debilitating.”Postpartum depression can also crop up later in the postpartum year when people go back to work or wean from breastfeeding, Dr. Vernon says.If you need mental health support, whether you think you have a perinatal mood disorder or not, check out Postpartum Support International, which offers help for mothers, fathers, partners and families, queer and trans parents, and military families. There’s also a 24/7 national maternal mental health hotline: 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS and a 24/7 national mental health and substance abuse hotline: 1-800-662-HELP. It’s worth adding these numbers to your phone now, before you need them, so they’re already there if and when you need to reach out.8. Surround yourself with a like-minded community.It’s common to feel the pressures of being the “perfect parent” because we are constantly surrounded by heartwarming images of parents and newborns on social media. But in reality, it is one of the most mentally challenging periods, and many parents—if not all—struggle at some point. You can help ease some of this pressure by filtering your social media feed to only include accounts that resonate with your experience, Dr. Kaeni says.You can also seek out local mom or parent support groups, where you can meet other parents who are dealing with the same issues. Sometimes all it takes is someone else saying that they can relate.For instance, Dr. Vernon, who is an advisor for Hey Jane, a digital community for postpartum families, runs a support group for pregnant and postpartum parents. She also recommends Peanut, an app that helps connect people who are navigating fertility, pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause. Love also hosts the support groups, Mother Connection and Toddler Time, at Indiana University Health, which are done via Zoom and are open to anyone, regardless of where they live. Dear Sunday Motherhood is another organization that offers virtual mom groups, where people all over the country can connect and gain advice from perinatal experts.Queer and LGBTQIA+ parents and families can also find resources and support through Gay Parents to Be, Men Having Babies, and Rainbow Families.Finally, Dr. Vernon reminds parents to be their own best advocate. “No matter what your birth experience is or how your recovery is postpartum, you’re still a great parent,” Dr. Vernon says. “You’re never alone.”Related:

7 Smart Ways to Rehydrate After an Intense Workout

7 Smart Ways to Rehydrate After an Intense Workout

“General nutrition recommendations are to take anywhere from 300 to 600 milligrams of sodium per hour that we’re exercising,” Samuel says. “Some people are saltier sweaters—like if your sweat really burns your eyes, if you have a lot of white on your clothes after exercising, or if you can just feel a lot of salt crystals on your skin. Those people might need upwards of 1,200 milligrams of sodium per hour just to replace what they’re losing.”Remember, sodium is the most important electrolyte for replacement in these cases. So focus on that in your electrolyte drinks or packets—the other electrolytes they provide should be enough to replace the electrolytes you lose in lesser amounts.5. Re-fuel with a hydrating smoothie.Another quick way to re-hydrate post-workout is with a smoothie. Smoothies are particularly a good choice if you exercise for less than an hour—meaning replacing larger amounts of sodium (like you’d need with an electrolyte packet or drink) likely won’t be as much of a concern. They’re also great for fueling up on other nutrients your body needs post-workout, such as protein and fat, especially for those who might not have a big appetite after exercise.To make the most of your smoothie, add foods that are naturally high in electrolytes, like watermelon, banana, and dates, Samuel says. You can also incorporate some leafy greens and coconut water, which are excellent sources of potassium.“Putting fruit into a smoothie, like bananas or dates, that are high in potassium and adding some sea salt can help you rehydrate,” she says.6. Eat foods high in water content.If you have trouble remembering to take frequent sips after your workout, Pryor suggests eating foods high in water content, such as cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, lettuce, and watermelon, to help replenish your fluids. Zucchini, cauliflower, strawberries, and celery are also very hydrating vegetables and fruits to munch on, according to the Cleveland Clinic.Add these foods to your salads, smoothies, or just snack on them throughout the day to increase your water and mineral intake.“Try putting some sea salt on your watermelon. That would help with replacing sodium and potassium because watermelon naturally has a lot of potassium,” Samuel says.7. Pair salty snacks or meals with water.Eating snack foods that are a little higher in sodium can help your body retain water. Consider eating some pretzels, salted nuts, cheese and crackers, and beef jerky, while also drinking water, Samuel says. You can also enjoy saltier meals, like sushi with soy sauce or a tuna sandwich.“Most people can replace electrolytes lost in sweat simply by eating a wide variety of healthy foods,” says Pryor.Related:

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Personal Training Session

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Personal Training Session

But “realistic” also applies to what is practical in the lens of at-home workouts, when equipment for many of us tends to be limited. For instance, maybe your be-all, end-all goal is deadlifting your bodyweight. If you only have a few pairs of lighter dumbbells at home, you may not be able to achieve that in the short-term.
What you can do, though, is achieve mini-steps on the way to that, like maintaining strength in your hamstrings and glutes, and working on power that’ll help you get to that goal. Kettlebell work, for example, translates very well to the barbell, so you can use a kettlebell in the interim to help you successfully gain overall strength, Peel says. In particular, kettlebell swings and snatches are great for building hip-dominant strength, which translates into stronger deadlifts.
The virtual setting might not feel like it’s conducive to creating new fitness goals, but working with a good trainer makes it easy, approachable, and trackable—even if you’re not physically checking in with your trainer once a week to report on it. For example, Peel uses the True Coach personal training app with all of her one-on-one clients to help them track their progress and provide feedback.
4. Look at your progress in a different way.
Once you set goals with your trainer, be sure to communicate any and all equipment you have at home so they can design a workout program with this in mind. If you have the financial means (and they’re available), you may want to consider investing in two to three sets of dumbbells (with weight that feels light, moderate, and heavy for you), a set of resistance bands, and a suspension trainer, such as TRX, says Fagan. Communicating your goals with your trainer can help you determine which equipment is important for you.

Even if you have some dumbbells and bands, chances are pretty high that your equipment won’t be as robust as what you’re used to at a gym. That’s where flexibility comes in, especially if you’ve always tracked progress by going up in weights or adding another plate to the bar. You want a trainer who will find ways for you to keep getting stronger even without tons of equipment at your disposal.
“As long as your trainer is getting creative with the basic movement patterns—squat, hinge, push, and pull—you’re going to see real progress,” Fagan says.
Fagan assures online clients that you actually don’t need a ton of fitness equipment to get stronger. “You can use your own bodyweight as resistance,” she says. “I have clients who own only a pair of two-pound dumbbells and maybe one or two resistance bands that have made tons of progress because there are so many variables you can change in your program.”
Some ways your trainer can make your workouts more challenging without necessarily adding weight are including supersets, in which you perform two movements back-to-back, designing EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and AMRAPs (as many reps/rounds as possible), creating a tempo (slowing down eccentric phase—the lowering phase—of an exercise), and increasing the volume of reps and sets you perform.
Peel also provides different variations of exercises for her clients so they don’t ever get bored with their workouts or feel less challenged with the weight they have. When doing kettlebell cleans, for example, she’ll add a rotation. Or if you’ve been doing two-handed kettlebell swings for some time, she’ll turn them into one-handed or side-step swings.
5. Set up your space for success.
It can be challenging to create space for at-home workouts, especially if you live in a small apartment or have limited room. But taking the time to re-organize your area so you can dedicate a special spot for virtual sessions can make a huge difference in your training and the type of feedback your trainer can provide.

The 10 Best Stress-Relieving Workouts, According to Fitness Experts

The 10 Best Stress-Relieving Workouts, According to Fitness Experts

“This helps me destress because I’m making a point to pause during a hectic day. It’s about being self-aware enough of how you’re feeling at a certain point—emotionally, mentally, physically—and prioritizing you by focusing on being present, mindful, and tapping into your parasympathetic system (the part of the nervous system that helps you relax and slows down your heart rate),” she says.

How you can try it: Try these 12 hip stretches and 11 lower-back exercises to relieve tightness and pain, and increase mobility.
3. A gentle yoga flow
When Jessica Rihal, a registered yoga teacher and meditation instructor based in Orange County, California, is looking to relieve stress, she’ll do a series of poses in prone (belly down) or tabletop position to help her focus on breathing and relaxing.
Some of her favorite poses for relieving stress are a supported variation of Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow, Thread the Needle, Hug the Earth, and a reclined position with bolsters or legs up on the wall.
“I find poses that keep me prone or in tabletop position are most helpful because having my face down allows me to withdraw my senses, focus on breathing and help to promote relaxation,” Rihal says. “I will typically use blocks, a bolster, and even my eye mask to help make my practice supportive and restorative.”
How you can try it: Start feeling zen right away with these six calming yoga poses.
4. Workout-of-the-Day strength training
Depending on how you’re feeling, stress may make you crave doing something either relaxing or adrenaline-pumping. That’s true for Marcia Darbouze, D.P.T., a physical therapist and registered yoga instructor based in Hollywood, Florida.
“I have two forms of movement that give me joy and help me destress: the physical practice of yoga and strength training. Either way, I’ll opt for movement alone and enjoy the solitude,” Darbouze, cohost of the Disabled Girls Who Lift podcast, tells SELF.
If she is craving more movement, she’ll do a quick, 10-minute cardio and strength training workout. For example, she’ll do a barbell and resistance band circuit, which includes barbell cleans, barbell strict presses (overhead press), banded trunk rotations (hold band and twist away), banded Pallof presses (hold band and press away from your chest without rotating), and kneeling windmills with a kettlebell.

“Strength training in WOD form is a great way to burn off energy without having to calculate numbers or percentages. It’s also a great way to add in more small and accessory movements that help me move better,” she says. “And once I’m done sweating, I’m done stressing.”
How you can try it: If you want to put some movement behind weight, try these six basic barbell exercises, and for a more relaxing routine, get started with these 12 beginner yoga poses.
5. Your favorite sport
If traditional gym-based workouts don’t exactly ooze relaxation for you, consider engaging in a sport you love instead. Nate Feliciano, owner and head of training at private fitness studio Studio 16 in New York City, likes playing basketball with his friends to distract his mind.
“Playing basketball with my friends helps me take my mind off what’s stressing me out and helps me focus on something small, like winning the basketball game or talking smack with my friends,” he says.
How you can try it: Since close-contact sports with groups aren’t advisable now due to COVID-19, you may need to focus more on individual aspects of your favorite sport—say, working on your foul shot in basketball or perfecting your tennis serve (try a virtual challenge to include the social aspect). Or get the one-on-one game going with someone in your household.
6: An intense HIIT workout
When you need to let out some steam, a HIIT workout might just be the remedy you need. For Hannah Eden, an iFit trainer, doing a HIIT workout and finishing with a bodyweight flow helps reduce her stress. Her style of HIIT combines short, intense bursts of cardio with resistance training using minimal equipment and takes less than 30 minutes. To finish things off, she does an Animal Flow, which includes movement patterns such as Beast, Crab, and Scorpion. Ideally, she likes to do her workout outdoors in an open space.

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