Once I was about 1-2 months away from my due date, one of my main obsessions was all about how I was going to get my body back after baby arrived. By this point, I had gained a lot of weight (more than I was “suppose” to) and wasn’t sure how exactly I was going to lose it. I wanted to breastfeed which means that I couldn’t diet, as dieting could lead to a poor milk supply and poor nutrition intake, leading to both you and baby feeling like crap. I could have tried to exercise, but I was trying to be realistic, the likelihood of me getting to the gym in those first few months wasn’t high. I wanted to be spending my time bonding with baby, not on a treadmill.
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After a lot of googling, I realized the solution was that I would need to have a supply of nutritious meals on hand that could be prepared as if they were fast food. Newborns are exhausting and require a significant dedication of time and attention. They nurse at least every two hours during day, and maybe, if you are lucky, every 4 hours during the night. If you aren’t feeding the baby, then you are changing diapers and getting them back to sleep.
If you end up like me and have a colicky baby, you will be very pressed for time, as colic babies require even more time and care than a happy newborn. You’ll also want to leave some time for holding and bonding with baby. When L was born, we had visitors during those first months, which was great, but not all of them were very helpful and we became even more pressed for time.
As I mentioned above, I realized that there was no way I would be eating healthy unless I somehow made food prep easier, since I realized that this was the best way I could get back in shape. If I was able to eat nutritious meals that took no time to prep, I would not have to reach for the sugary, empty-calorie snacks, or have my husband pick up take-out on his way home from work.
I knew myself well enough to know, if I was exhausted, I would go for the quickest option and not the healthiest option. I felt pretty confident that I could find healthy, quick options for breakfasts and lunches, but dinners take much longer to prep. Prepping dinners is especially challenging as babies, especially colicky ones, tend to fall apart during the evenings (called the witching hour)
Being successful at breastfeeding was something that was really important to me, which meant fueling my body to make enough milk to keep up with my daughter’s demands. Once you start producing a lot of milk (milk production continues to increase until it establishes at 3 months), breastfeeding at full capacity burns approximately 500 calories a day. So, if I could get breastfeeding to work and continue nursing throughout the first year, I could also rely on breastfeeding, in addition to healthy eating to melt off the pounds.
The absolute best way to get your body back after baby arrives:
The best way to lose weight and get your body back after baby arrives isn’t actually something you do after giving birth, but rather something you do in the weeks or months leading up to delivery. Pre-prep meals before baby arrives so that all you have to do is take out the dinner from its freezer-safe zip lock bag, load the meal into the crockpot, and presto, you have a hot, delicious and nutritious dinner.
Think this will only save you a little amount of time? Surprisingly, prepping in this fashion saves an insane amount of time. You only have to grocery shop once and can prep meals for a whole month. You can also do all of the meal prep and get your freezer stocked in a single afternoon.
No idea how to get started or do freezer meals? I highly recommend the New Leaf Wellness Complete Freezer Cooking Bundle, seriously check it out. At $29.99, it may seem steep, but it includes over 100 recipes, so all you need is this bundle to get a lot of variety. The bundle has grocery lists and directions for freezer meals that require zero effort once they are prepped besides taking it out of freezer and putting it in a crockpot.
Of course, you could try to compile a group of recipes manually via Pinterest, but then you’d have to still plan the grocery list, learn how to best and store each meal, and then keep your collection organized so you can repeat the process. This manual task is overwhelming, especially if you do not really cook. Trust me, I am not a very good cook but this bundle is still so easy to follow. Alli uses this cookbook as well and she wrote a really great review on it in her article about stocking your freezer before baby arrives, I highly recommend checking out her post as well.
So now that you are armed with this information, when your baby arrives you’ll have less grocery shopping, and every night can be stress-free. That hour you would have spent on cooking is now yours to enjoy baby, take a nap, or do absolutely nothing. And best of all, you’ll be eating nutritious dinners instead of junk, enabling you to get your body back after baby.
Final Note: Now, that I have a toddler, I have learned that time is still precious. Putting in the effort now, while nesting, to learn how to prep freezer meals, will continue to save you time and simply your life.
Where to now?
It’s never too late to take an online childbirth class to feel even more prepared, read Alli’s review of four online childbirth classes. Or check out Alli’s post on prepping your home and packing your hospital bag. Want to check out all of our posts that can help you prepare? Head to our expecting section.
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Trina Fitzgerald is a wife, mom, and blogger. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.