Post-pregnancy Lifestyle Advice to Reduce Stress

Recently, I received the following question from a pregnant blog reader who was very happy with the Fit Pregnancy Interview series and other post-pregnancy resources I've posted:

Hi Cassandra! Thank you so much for your blog! I have really found it helpful and encouraging during my pregnancy thus far (33 weeks and counting!).

There doesn't seem to be a lot of healthcare personnel that are knowledgeable or supporting of a paleo lifestyle, let alone when you're pregnant and/or nursing. I cannot tell you how much I get  'don't lift anything over 30lbs'; 'eat lots of grains and drink plenty of milk'; and 'make sure you exercise but not too much';\s been so refreshing to read about the women who were healthy AND fit during and after pregnancy. So thanks for this resource!

Anyway, I had a question about adrenal fatigue postpartum. Robb Wolf speaks a lot about managing cortisol levels by improving sleep quality, walking, a clean diet, etc. which I have found very beneficial for me pre-pregnancy, and have tried my best to strive for those things during pregnancy. What I am curious about, is do you know of any studies or experiences of things helpful in the weeks to months after delivery? I am sure it is taxing on your body with recovery and repair, plus interrupted sleep, and increase caloric demand for those nursing. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Or is it just one of those things that you push through as best you can and it passes? Thanks so much for your time!


I wanted to share this question with you, and also what my response was.

First, I do need to clarify that I'm not a paleo follower per se. Yes, I do not eat any cow's dairy, barely eat any wheat if any, and avoid eating excessive beans because they upset my gut. But, I do eat grains from time to time - I do enjoy brown rice with a nice peice of wild salmon, and like to make qunioa or barley pilafs (with loads of olive oil and lemon juice... yum!). And, I like to eat organic sweet potatoes and red potatoes.

I do choose mostly free-range and organic meats, but I do not eat chicken or beef because they really bother my gut (I'm in the bathroom in 24 hours if I eat chicken). I also can not eat any nuts other than walnuts in moderation (I've recently discovered walnuts don't bother me), amd I can't do almond milk or coconut milk.

My diet is mostly by way of a FODMAP plan and what I've personally listened to my body to follow.

Basically, during my pregnancy I was a bit of a black sheep because I

a) did not drink any milk, but I did supplement with some calcium and magnesium and loads of vitamin D at night,

b) worked out very hard almost every day

c) did not gain the "recommended 20-35lbs" while pregnant because I was so active (and, it did not do a THING to inhibit the health of my child).

d) ate lots of protein foods and with it, a lot of fat (eggs, salmon, pork, etc)


In response to Kari's question, this is what I had to say:

You're welcome for the blog posts! I'm glad they have been helpful :)

For the stress of post-pregnancy: well, it is a hard process dealing with the delivery (your body just turned itself inside out basically), the milk production, and the lack of sleep, but you will manage - that's what our bodies were designed for! You will surprise yourself at how much you can get done and how amazing you feel.

I would recommend to also continue following the de-stressing techniques such as relaxing walks outdoors (take baby with you in a Bjorn carrier or Moby wrap; it's so relaxing), clean eating (minimal sugar, no artifical products), sleep when you can get it (naps are going to become essential not just for baby, but for you), and supplementation with a good multivitamin, antioxidant, plenty of vitamin D, and omega-3 oils. Also very important is to have some time to yourself and help from others if you can get it - don't try to do everything yourself; I did, and I think that's why I was pretty frazzled my first few months, but thankfully it didn't interupt my milk supply.

Overall - your body is going to change so much after you have baby, and eventually you will see just how strong and powerful it is. Being a mom is tough work, but you can definitely do it, and you will enjoy all the new learning experiences.

Best of luck!- Cassand


I hope this information is helpful for you as well; wheter you are a new mom, pregnant woman or someone looking to start a family - remember: you don't have to be like everyone else when it comes to how you exercise or eat, and you should take time to yourself after having baby and relax, be calm, and stop to smell the flowers, especially if you don't do that now. 



Posted Apr 14, 2011 by Cassandra Forsythe.
This entry is filed under Postpregnancy and nutrition.

Comments for This Entry

GravatarJoanne 07:08PM on April 14, 2011

I just had to comment on this. I have 5 very healthy, fit, intelligent children all born to a Mum (me) who trained hard-lifting weights (yes heavy), running till I couldn't, cycling, swimming and anything else I could find to do during all pregnancies including when pregnant with my twins.
You're right about finding healthcare professionals who support this, but hopefully this will change.
As far as energy after the birth goes-yes you will be tired, in fact really tired sometimes. Make the most of only having one child and NAP!!!! Don't think you must tidy the house or do the washing. It will still be there to be done later. Make sure you nap when you can.
Also, go to bed at night when you put your baby down for bed. Don't think you've got to stay up till that first night time feed. Get to bed yourself and you will probably get in a couple of hours at least before that first feed. You'll find that eventually you can do night feeds without even really waking up, so if you've already been to bed yourself, this gives you vital extra sleep.
And of course, keep up your healthy Paleo based nutrition. Nothing (besides lack of sleep) will rob you of energy more than processed, grain based foods and sugar.
Oh, and I also agree about the weight gain requirements. I gained about 7kgs for each pregnancy and only 10kg (about 20lbs) for my twins, who were born at full term at 6lb 7oz and 7lb 6oz each.
Goodluck and enjoy it. Having kids is the best thing that you will ever do!!

GravatarSandy01:56AM on April 15, 2011

I fully agree with Cassandra and the first commenter that the weight gain guidelines are somewhat high and that you can get along with less when you focus on nutrient dense food! I would appreciate if you could give a little more advice on how to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Your post on this topic is great but you exercised 2-3 times/day so it might be a bit high in calories for the average active woman...Would you mind dedicating another post on nutrition?

GravatarLauren02:16PM on April 15, 2011

thanks for another awesome article. i didn't even tell my midwife i eat paleo bc i was scared of what she would tell me. BUT i had a food aversion with meat and veggies (mud-yuck!) about 3 months in and carbs became my friend again. With that being said, I heavy lifted until 8.5 months, ran until 8.5 months (jogged), and gained about 20 lbs which i have lost within about 5 weeks. i am just starting to lift heavy again and swim which feels great. i guess my only question is regarding supplements, can you recommend a good brand? im scared of mercury with omega 3.

GravatarIris05:16AM on April 16, 2011

What I like a lot in your posts about pregnancy is that you did a lot of things differently than conventional wisdom advices and that you blog about it. I feel that many fitness experts are somewhat reluctant to give different advice. Many fitness websites still point out that normal weight women should gain at least 25 pounds. Your blog shows clearly that it is often less for active women with fabulous pregnancy outcomes. I am asking myself if the advice to eat an additional 300 kcal is still reasonable. In his book, dr. Clapp (whom we probably all know) states that it might need to be revised but this was in the 1990s and I think the recommendations haven´t changes since. However, much of the new tissue that is build in pregnancy (placenta, uterine muscle, the cord, the "parts" of the baby that are not fat) is lean tissue and requires much less than 3500 kcal/pound (I also found this in Dr. Clapp`s book). I only gained around 17 pounds (I do not know exactly) and I felt so guilty about it then. I ate way beyond appetite but I refused to stuff myself with junk. It is good to hear that there are different ideas what a healthy weight gain might be. I will not try to force myself to gain at leat 25 pounds the next time around...Do you have an idea about a reasonable increase in calorie intake? I have recently found an article that said that not the increase in maternal fat mass determines the baby`s weight but the increase in lean mass (mainly placenta and blood volume). It would be great if one could influence that one, maybe exercise helps?

GravatarCassandra05:47PM on April 16, 2011

Lauren - have you tried Krill Oil for your omega-3 requirements? It's mercury-free and rich in the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin.

GravatarLauren03:34PM on April 17, 2011

I have not, but I will def look into it. I never supplemented much, but post partum I feel like I may need to. Thanks for the tip!

GravatarRita04:48PM on June 08, 2011

It's so hard to be disciplined when you're pregnant. I just seem to want to eat anything I can think of! Now I'm on my third trimester and feeling really large. I also gained a lot of cellulites in the process. Hope I can burn them out after childbirth...

GravatarPregnancy Announcement Ideas06:35PM on July 26, 2011

Thanks for sharing your own experience Cassandra. You were very perfect during your pregnancy that you were so active and worked hard everyday. Not gaining 20-35lbs as per recommendation is a good plan. There are many pregnant women who think that gaining wait would do best for them but that is definitely a wrong idea, I am not saying always, but maximum.

GravatarAna11:59PM on August 31, 2011


GravatarAna12:01AM on September 01, 2011


GravatarPregnancy Miracle10:35AM on September 02, 2011

Hi Cassandra, I must say that you are a very strong mom when you were pregnant. In the way you told us your story is just amazing. Some pregnant women just want to sleep and lie down in bed but you are different. You were very active and hard working. I am very inspired by you. I hope I can also be like that on my second baby. Thank you!

Gravatara.Goldberg08:57AM on September 09, 2011

Thank you for your interesting info. I would like to add that during pregnancy (AND AFTER!) we should not underestimate the importance of compression stockings! They are very helpful in helping us preventing serious disease such as varicose veins, Dvt and of course, Leg fatigue. Compression stockings are great for fighting vein pain, but remember: consistency is the key! In my site I am writing on how we can improve our leg’s health with just few simple steps
Great blog by the way!

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