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The period between the time you delivered your baby right up to the time your body recovers itself completely and returns to its prenatal state is referred to as the postnatal or postpartum phase. This can be a difficult time for new moms who try to balance their emotional and physical health amidst maintaining a healthy relationship with their families and looking after the newborn.

Although this period should involve mothers taking some time to allow their bodies to recover, a majority of Indian mothers resume all their household duties - including chores that require them to stand for long hours - almost immediately after they get back to their homes. Even if the mother has not had any complicated surgery during the delivery, she should take it easy on her body.

Here are a couple of things that a new mother should keep in mind during the postnatal recovery stage:

Importance of a balanced diet

Your baby is (or babies are) going to be depending on your breastmilk for all their nutritional needs. This means that your healthy diet did not end when you gave birth - it has to continue for at least a year until you wean your baby off your breastmilk. But this is not the only reason you should be eating healthy.

Every day that you breastfeed your baby, you are burning up 300-500 calories. This energy has to be replaced by consuming an extra 300 calories everyday else you are going to end up feeling lethargic and won’t be able to finish up the work you set out to do.

There are a couple of essential nutrients that you should be getting into your system without having to resort to supplements (unless your doctor advised you to take supplements).

Iron

Mothers often lose a lot of blood during childbirth and this can make them anaemic. This is why an iron-rich diet is essential.

Source: spinach, red meat, lentils

Calcium

Breastfeeding moms don’t need more calcium than other women do but it is important to meet the daily requirement. An increasing number of women are prone to getting osteoporosis from not having the recommended one glass of milk every day.

Source: milk and dairy products, eggs, fish

Protein

This group of power foods not only keeps you feeling full but also gives you the energy required to get you through the day. It also helps keep your hair strong and shiny.

Source: meat, cottage cheese, beans, lentils

Vitamins

Vitamins are great for keeping your skin, bones and body functioning properly. Not getting enough vitamins means that your body will not be able to absorb other nutrients efficiently.

Source: colourful fruits and vegetables

Fat

When you do any kind of work, it is your fat deposits that get burned up first. So, it is important to replenish these fat stores in your body just the way you refuel your vehicle on a regular basis.

Source: meat, eggs, whole milk, butter, oils

Why, when and how you should exercise

As mentioned in the previous section, fat gets burned up when you do work. But you also need to eat to refuel your body. In order to maintain a healthy weight, you need to combine a healthy balanced diet with an effective workout routine that helps you to not only lose weight but to also maintain it after you attain the desired weight.

Whether you are trying to lose weight to get back in shape or to just maintain a healthy body, exercise is important for everybody. The key is to keep your workout routine simple and one that you can stick to.

IMPORTANT: You should only start exercising when your doctor advises you to. Always start with lighter exercises like walking and a few mild stretches.

Once your body gets adjusted to gentle exercises (and it could take a good couple of weeks), pick a sport that you like and play it 3 times a week. If you don’t like any sport, you could try joining a yoga class or a dance class. You could even try out dance/yoga tutorials at home if you don't like working out in front of other people. If all else fails, you could just head out for a jog with your hubby every morning and witness the sunrise together.

Take time to relax

Why relax? Well, because you deserve it, lady! You inhabited a human inside you for 9 months and that’s a feat that earns you a well-deserved vacay. Yes, your baby does need you right now. But your husband and family can help you out with the baby too. You should be firm in letting them know that you need your time to sleep and just relax and that for those few hours, they are in charge of the baby.

Relaxing doesn’t just stop at sleeping and lazing around. It also means doing all those things you like doing but haven’t been able to do for a long time. Taking the time to do things for yourself will not only make you feel happy but will also help you keep your sanity. You might love spending time with your baby but there is n denying the fact that you want to spend time with your friends too. A month after your baby gets home, you could leave him/her at home with your husband while you head out and spend time your gal pals.

Accept help from those who offer

Remember that friend of yours had offered to help with the baby whenever you need her to? Call her up right away! Ask her to look after your baby while you run some errands. Oh and remember how your sister-in-law is always saying she wants to spend an entire day with the baby? Be a sport and grant her wish while enjoying a date night with your hubby.

Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. This is not the time to be stressed out over entering motherhood. This is the time you should be enjoying every minute of becoming a new mom and at the same time, remembering your identity.

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