Whether it’s a normal or a planned C-section delivery, childbirth takes a lot out of a woman, but good nutrition and exercise can always help heal the body. Though recovery time varies from one mother to another, the type of delivery determines the nutrition plan and workout regime.
“For at least 10 days, mothers who have undergone C-section can only eat semi-solids while post-normal delivery, mothers can start following their normal diet as soon as they want,” says nutritionist Purvi Bansal from HealthyRoots, Chandigarh.
Shivani Sikri, chief nutritionist, Nutri4Verve, recommends a lot of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products after delivery. She says that breastfeeding women should take 400 to 600 more calories a day than they would normally eat.
“Lactation burns fat, and so breastfeeding helps get rid of some of the extra fat stores. In case, you’re putting on more weight, you’re most likely taking in too many calories or not exercising enough,” says Sikri.
Certain nutrients are important during the recovery period such as iron, vitamin C and D, and fibre. While iron is a must to help you compensate for blood loss during delivery, protein has amino acids that helps the body to build and repair cells and muscles that were damaged during childbirth, especially a C-section.
Vitamin C is good for wound healing and vitamin D and calcium for rejuvenation of the bones. It is also important to consume up to eight-nine glasses of water, milk, buttermilk or juices to support your lactation.
Since many women complain of constipation in the weeks following delivery, fibrous fruit and vegetables are preferred. It is also important to take multivitamins after delivery to help fill in any nutrient gaps in diet, as suggested by your doctor.
Dr Mehta says, “It is highly important to have calcium, iron, multi-vitamin and B12 vitamin till the child is at least one-and-a-half year old because it helps the body recover from conditions like extreme hairfall or skin pigmentation.”
Bansal suggests some easy remedies throughout breastfeeding. To increase milk secretion, boil and strain jeera or cumin water. Have it the first thing every morning; To aid in weight loss, have ajwain or carom seeds in lukewarm water throughout the day and to curb energy loss and increase calcium in the body, eat makhaana or fox nuts which are considered extremely beneficial while breastfeeding.
Exercise regime and how to go about it:
“If mothers are not finding time to exercise or they don’t feel motivated enough, then a small 30-minute walk can help to make a start. It is important to do much of the work related to the child including bathing which helps the mother connect with the child and also is a form of exercise for her,” says Bansal.
According to Dr Rucha Majmundar Mehta, clinical nutritionist, Apollo CBCC, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, in case of normal delivery, mostly routine exercises which include stretching and simple yoga exercises for muscle tone are prescribed but for C-section deliveries, exercises can only start after the uterus comes back to its original shape without hampering the incision.
She also points out that it is important to have family support, especially from the mother or mother-in-law which can be the biggest motivation for all new mothers. Under proper guidance of experienced physiotherapists, if new mothers and their mother or mother-in-law can start with simple exercises, yoga or any form of physical activity coupled with nutritious meals, it can work wonders.
For a balanced post-pregnancy exercise regime, Sikri recommends that one shouldn’t push too hard to lose weight. “Even if you were in good shape before and during your pregnancy, you shouldn’t push too hard mainly because your joints are more elastic for several months following delivery due to a hormone called relaxin that’s released during pregnancy,” she says.
In a C-section, it is important to let the body recover fully from the major abdominal surgery and wait the required eight weeks before climbing stairs or doing any heavy lifting, running, or other forms of exercise. It is also recommended to wait for about four to eight weeks after giving birth for doing heavy abdominal exercises like abdominal crunches.