I am sitting on an airplane – about to take off and I am managing to tune out of the boring safety briefing. Until the moment the airhostess says (as she always does) “Parents of small children please put on your oxygen mask first, before you help young children and others needing assistance.” It’s a familiar request and one that highlights two things for me:
Firstly, this statement is completely counter-intuitive! Which mother in all honesty is going to help herself before her baby? Not one of us – we will all jump to keep our child safe before we even think of helping ourselves. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are no different. Your body will prioritize your growing fetus and feeding infant ahead of your own health. Your baby has very specific nutritional needs and the necessary nutrients will be provided from your diet to your baby first (the perfect parasite).
Secondly, as counter-intuitive this is, when one reflects on the statement – it really is true. Taking care of a baby is an enormous responsibility and one for which you need to be as healthy as possible. It is hard to parent a young child if you are completely depleted, physically and emotionally.
With these two ideas in mind, it is really critical to make sure you take care of yourself:
- Exercise – You should get out and exercise for 30 minutes every day. If you do not have childcare, take your baby along – a brisk walk with your baby in sling or pram is an excellent way to get out and exercise with your little one with you.
- Diet – While you do not need to eat for two while pregnant or breastfeeding, you need to eat with two in mind – you will need extra energy – found in healthy, unprocessed carbs; extra fibre – from veggies and fruit; extra protein and fatty acids which can be found in oily fish and healthy fats; you will need extra calcium, folic acid and iron too, found in dairy and dark green veggies.
- Supplements – It’s a good idea to take a folic acid and iron supplement, Omega’s and also a nutritional supplement which offers the full gambit of micronutrients, such as Bio-Strath.
Whilst pregnant and breastfeeding, you have a vital job and one that needs energy, stamina and also needs to provide nutritionally for your baby. Take care of yourself.