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Pregnancy and childbirth are often considered some of the most beautiful events in life. The BBC reports that in America, there were 3.6 million births from women aged 15-44 years old in 2020. This is a 4% decline from the previous year’s numbers and shows that the rate of childbirth continues to decrease annually since 1979. Research shows that this dip is due to the fact that many women prefer to become mothers much later in life as compared to the previous decades. They claim that this helps them be more prepared for the inevitable differences a baby will make in their lives.
How pregnancy changes the body
When someone goes through pregnancy, they will notice that their body changes in several ways. Women can experience sensory changes during pregnancy, for one. An example of this is when you start to feel an aversion to food or scents you used to like. You may even experience an increase in nearsightedness, but this will correct itself after birth.
The most obvious physical change that people typically experience is weight gain. With a baby growing inside of you, it’s a definite fact that you’ll be gaining a few pounds. Aside from this, it is also caused by an increase in appetite that comes with having to eat for two. The weight can distribute to many areas like your abdomen and breasts. The suddenness of the weight gain may be a reason people get stretch marks.
Another physical change you may experience is having stronger and shinier hair and nails, as well as glowing skin. People have called this the “pregnancy glow.” Women experience a change in their hormone levels, especially their estrogen, which is what causes these changes. That being said, they may experience increased hair growth in other places, which may be an unwanted side-effect. Inversely, some women may experience hair fall as the estrogen levels recede. Don’t be alarmed by these changes because they’re perfectly normal.
As mentioned earlier, pregnancy has effects on hormones which can cause many internal changes as well. A study on Postpartum Metabolism found that a woman’s metabolic rate decreases as compared to its rate during pregnancy. It is associated with insulin resistance, which is when glucose remains in your bloodstream instead of being broken down. This can cause weight retention and changes in your metabolism, but it can be reversible if addressed correctly.
Getting your metabolism back on track
Try to exercise regularly
Exercise is key to staying healthy because it has so many benefits for your body. It is commonly associated with weight loss because it burns calories, but it is also helpful because it helps regulate your metabolism. Cardio workouts promote blood distribution throughout your body, making your organs work more efficiently. Exercise also teaches your body how to burn calories efficiently, giving you a better metabolism.
As a mom, it might be difficult to find time (or energy) in a day to fit in a workout. But one solution you can do is to break up a full exercise routine into segments of 15 to 30 minutes which you can do at different times throughout the day. This means you can squeeze in at least a little bit of physical activity throughout your busy day. Our past article called ‘The Most Important Abdominal Exercises You Can Do Postpartum’ highlights some abdominal workouts you can do to target an area many new moms find difficult to lose weight in. This includes vacuum breaths, pelvic tilts, heel slides, and bridges.
Eat healthy food
Food is another important factor when it comes to fixing your metabolism. What you eat greatly affects your body, so it is important to go on a balanced and healthy diet. This doesn’t mean you should limit what you eat, but it means you should be conscious of what you consume. SymptomFind discusses how foods that are high in protein can aid in speeding up your metabolic rate, so it is important to try and incorporate them into your meals.
They also mention how fish is a great lean meat that is low in calories and fats while also being high in omega 3. It is nutritious while also providing enough energy without you having to eat too much of it. On the other hand, you can increase your vegetable intake; broccoli is one great example that is high in vitamins and fiber, keeping your blood sugar levels stable and promoting a healthy digestive system. Lastly, the website also adds that eating spicy food will aid in speeding up your metabolism. This is because they contain a compound called capsaicin that helps your body burn calories and reduce bad cholesterol.
Drink coffee or tea
Tea and coffee contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that is often associated with increasing energy. While this is true, it also has several metabolic benefits. A Sarasota Magazine write-up discusses how people who drink this experience a three to five percent increase in their energy levels which means their bodies burn more calories even when at rest.
They also note how important it is not to drink empty calories which is why it is best to drink tea and coffee without milk or sugar. Tea variants like oolong and green tea are the ones that are known to be great for promoting metabolism and good digestion. In terms of controlling blood sugar levels, black coffee is also known to be able to do this effectively, and it can even lower the risk for developing diabetes by six to eight percent. If you are nursing, it is generally still okay to drink caffeine in moderate amounts, but if you have concerns please discuss them with your doctor or lactation consultant.
Get enough sleep
Sleep may sound like it has nothing to do with your body’s ability to metabolize food, but this is quite far from the truth. The Sleep Foundation explains how getting enough rest is associated with your body being able to efficiently use energy and how not getting enough of it may lead to worse metabolic health.
Some people may experience an increased appetite when they lack sleep. This is because your body may not be able to regulate its ghrelin and leptin neurotransmitters, which are responsible for hunger and fullness, respectively. Studies have also shown that sleep-deprived people have a tendency to crave high-calorie foods and carbohydrates, which may negatively affect their metabolism. It also leads to metabolic dysregulation, which means that your metabolism slows down. It can also be a cause of insulin resistance. Getting enough sleep may be difficult, especially for new moms but it is important to remember to take care of your health as well. Try to ask for help from people you trust so you can get ample amounts of rest.
Your metabolism is just one of the many things that may change after childbirth. Though it may seem hard to reset, it is something that can be done through exercising regularly, having a good diet, drinking caffeinated drinks, and getting enough sleep. Just remember that your body will take a bit of time—and work—before it goes back to normal, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Use these tips as guidance towards regulating your body again. Motherhood certainly is a journey that poses a shift in your life, but you can adapt your lifestyle to cater to what your child needs without sacrificing your health. If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms and physical changes, seek out the help of a professional who can properly assess your condition and guide you to a treatment plan that is suited to your needs.
Be sure to check out Joyful Messes for the latest articles on health, fitness, and the wonders of motherhood.