Self Care for New Moms

Being a mom is a full time job. We are juggling taking care of our little ones and the million tasks that come along with it. From changing diapers to feeding and preparing food, cleaning up toys and the never ending baby dishes, it’s a lot of work! It’s also a very physical job, especially in the first few months when you are potentially pacing the hallways with a fussy baby or rocking them to sleep.

It is all more than worth the effort when you see those heart melting smiles and hear those contagious giggles. Parenthood is the most rewarding job in the world. However, it’s easy to feel drained especially when there’s a good chance your sleeping habits are probably the worst they’ve ever been. Lack of sleep takes a toll on our immune systems and increases cortisol levels. So the last thing you want to do is throw in high intensity exercise which will only increase cortisol levels even more (the bodies stress hormone). Increased cortisol puts our bodies in a catabolic state which eats away at muscle mass and causes the body to store fat. This is why I recommend doing LESS if you want to look and most importantly FEEL better, especially in the first couple of months postpartum. You want to slowly build your intensity back up. Check out my blog post on How to Ease Back Into Exercise Postpartum for more information on that topic.

My goal here is to help women understand that our bodies need rest and recovery above all else after childbirth and we need a slow and steady progression (back) into exercising. As a personal trainer with a dozen of years of experience in the fitness industry, I see women in general under eating and over exercising all of the time which only makes things worse! Add in crazy postpartum hormones, lack of sleep, a very physically and emotionally demanding job as a new mother and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!

So, here are a few things you can focus on postpartum for a faster recovery and to help you towards a healthy and happy mind, body and soul.

EAT: That’s right, eat as much as you need to. I’m not saying to go and stuff your face with pizza and junk food all day but it is soooo important to be eating ENOUGH food to fuel your body properly. If you are breastfeeding, you need to take into consideration that you need to consume an extra 500 calories per day on average. As a new mom, it can be easy to forget to eat a meal because you’re too busy putting the needs of your baby before your own. However, if you’re not fuelling your body properly and getting in enough calories, you’re going to feel even more drained, increase cortisol levels even higher which could potentially make it even harder to lose baby weight and cause you to store additional fat. I recommend a balanced diet of carbs, fats and proteins, 3 meals/day and 1-3 snacks throughout the day in between meals. Eat clean, whole foods as much as possible and avoid packaged and processed foods. Meal prep and plan all 7 days of the week (don’t forget weekends)! This is a great way to set yourself up for success. If you find you’re too busy to do the whole meal prep thing at this time in your life, consider a meal prep service such as www.vittle.ca I’ve been enjoying their services for the last few years during everything from competition preps, throughout my pregnancy and now postpartum. It’s a sure way to ensure you are eating enough and eating properly. Their meals are nutritious, balanced and always varied! They deliver meals fresh to your door from Sunday to Thursday (or based on your specific request) and can accommodate any dietary restrictions. If you’re thinking of trying this service out, I have great news! Get 10% off your first week at www.vittle.ca with my promo code JESS10 – I also do monthly giveaways on my personal Instagram page instagram.com/jessichiarello

DRINK: I’m not talking coffee or wine although those are highly recommend if needed as well haha but H20! and lots of it. The more hydrated you are, the better you will feel. I could go on and list all of the benefits that proper hydration has for your body composition, energy levels, skin/hair/nails etc.. but I’m sure you’ve heard them by now. I like to use the analogy of the fresh plum and a shrivelled up prune, which one would you like to be? I recommend 2.5-3 litres minimum/day and at least 4-5 litres + for breastfeeding mamas!


This can be anything from getting your hair or nails done, a massage, walk around the block, some time out with the girls sans bébé or a nice warm bath. You deserve time to yourself and it’s not only good for you but for the babes too!


I like to stretch when my baby is down on the mat playing or doing tummy time. Be sure to choose stretches that target the major muscles of the lower body: glutes, hips and hamstrings as well as those tight upper traps.

Rolling muscles with a foam roller or yoga tune up or lacrosse ball is also a very effective way to address knots and tight muscles.

You could try some light yoga. Postnatal yoga is always a good start or try some yin yoga which focuses on holding postures for 3-5 minutes and is much less intense. Avoid power yoga and core focused classes which may be too much for your body especially if you have any diastasis recti (abdominal separation caused by pregnancy – about 60% of women suffer from this postpartum). Focus on strengthening your core, specifically the deep core muscles (TVA) and pelvic floor during and after pregnancy to avoid this! As for hitting the gym, I would take your time lifting anything too heavy until everything is fully recovered which is typically anywhere from 4-8 weeks. High impact exercises such as running are not usually not recommended until about 6 months postpartum but you can get assessed by a pelvic floor therapist to confirm this based on your personal situation downstairs.


Mediation is the art of being present. It seems pretty simple but it’s actually a lot harder than it sounds (for me anyway). To shut the brain off and just BE can be quite challenging. You have to tune out the outside world, turn off your inner voice that is constantly worrying about every little thing and try to notice all of your five senses for the ultimate sense of relaxation. It can be as simple as sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing or laying down, closing your eyes and noticing every part of your body starting from your toes and slowly making your way up to the crown of your head. I recently went to a class at thepeaceroom.com for the first time and it was so wonderful. If you have trouble sitting in silence, try journaling and writing down your thoughts as another form of meditation.

The Peace Room 183 Sparks St.

Instead of rushing to get back to the gym and hit the weights or treadmill, try practicing some of these simple self care techniques. Give yourself the well deserved rest and relaxation your body needs postpartum. Many women feel a lot of pressure to lose the baby weight and just bounce right back to their pre baby bods. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple in most cases. There are many factors that affect this such as where you started from before you became pregnant, if you were able to exercise during pregnancy, genetics, hormones, whether or not you’re breastfeeding and of course your nutritional habits above all else. One thing I know for sure is if you are following the above mentioned tips, it’ more than likely going to help you lose weight faster and more naturally than extreme measures that could be more detrimental to your overall health than anything. Slow down and take care of yourself mamas!

Thanks for reading!



7 Reasons Why You Should Exercise During Pregnancy.

The benefits of physical activity are countless but today I’m going to touch on why it’s so beneficial during pregnancy. Even if you’re not exercising consistently before getting pregnant, you can still integrate it carefully and reap the benefits. The general recommendation is 30 minutes per day and that can be anything from walking, swimming, weight lifting, yoga or whatever you love doing!

1. Move more, feel better. We all know that pregnancy can take a toll on your energy levels, especially during the first and third trimester. The body is busy making magic and working overtime to create a human so it’s understandable. However, exercise has been shown to help increase stamina and give you more energy. Making time to do some light cardio or stretching when you feel up for it can help combat that fatigue and give you more energy throughout the day.

2. Digestion. With pregnancy comes all sorts of fun symptoms such as constipation and bloating. Exercise gets your blood flowing and can help with these issues. Going for a walk after a meal has been shown to aid with digestion and is a great way to spend quality time with your significant other or catch up on the phone with your mom or a friend! Be sure to stay well hydrated too which will also help with digestion and can help prevent the above mentioned symptoms.

3. Better sleep. Sleeping is so important when it comes to your overall well being. Unfortunately, your sleep can be affected when you have to pee three times per night and you have a growing belly that eventually prevents you from sleeping your stomach and back (it’s ideal to sleep on your left side for best circulation as your pregnancy progresses). The excitement of becoming a parent alone can keep you up at night or if you have other small children they may be disrupting a good nights sleep. Many factors can affect your sleep during pregnancy. However, exercise can help you fall asleep more easily, stay asleep and get better quality of sleep. From one mother to the next, I recommend you try to sneak in some cat naps when you can .. while you still can!!

4.Improved mood. With all the changes happening in your body, your emotions see hormones can become all out of whack. Physical activity releases a happy hormone called endorphins which help improve your mood and reduce pain. Make sure to avoid getting hangry and keep that belly full too! I found this to be especially important during pregnancy to feel my best and to help with nausea.

5. Avoid back pain and improve posture. A very common issue during pregnancy is lower back pain. The extra weight you carry can affect your posture and it’s important to address it before the issue causes long term damage. Stretching tight muscles especially in the hips, glutes, back and hamstrings can help prevent these aches and pains. I loved yoga during pregnancy. Find a prenatal yoga class or let your usual yoga instructor know you are pregnant before starting a class.

6. Prevent gestational diabeties. This is also very common during pregnancy and you will be tested for it sometime between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Regular exercise can help prevent this so all the more reason to get moving!

7. Easier labour and delivery. Exercise will help your body cope with labour can even help you bounce back much more quickly after pregnancy. I like to compare labour to running a marathon. If your physically fit, it will absolutely work in your benefit. Although lifting weights will help build muscle and strength, any physical activity is beneficial. By the last trimester, your exercise intensity will really slow down so a simple walk is more than enough. Working on strengthening your pelvic floor will also help with labour and recovery. I suggest everyone meet with a pelvic floor therapist before and after pregnancy. In some countries, that is actually the standard. Hopefully it will be in Canada one day too!

Always talk to your doctor or midwife about your exercise routine during pregnancy, especially if you’re having high risk pregnancy. As a rule of thumb, you can continue anything that you were doing before pregnancy. It’s not the best time to start something new or pick up a sport you’ve never done before. Although, if you are just starting up, light cardio and stretching is totally safe and good place to begin. If you want to start weight lifting and have never done it before, I suggest working with a trainer who specializes in pre/post natal or try a prenatal yoga class. Otherwise, stick to what your body is used to and avoid exercises that put you at risk for falling or injury. Most importantly listen to your body and do what makes you feel good!

How to Ease Back Into Exercising Postpartum


If you’re a mom, you know that some days feel like a marathon from beginning to end yet you don’t scratch a single thing off your to do list. Taking care of another human is a 24/7 job. It’s the best job in the world but the days are gone in the blink of an eye. From changing explosive poopy diapers to projectile vomit, the surprises never end! A few other time consuming tasks worth mentioning are nursing/feeding your little one and the never ending baby dishes and laundry. Even just leaving the house is twice as much work, especially when you’re going around nap schedules and feeding times. I remember my first time leaving the house with my daughter Valentina I was so overwhelmed. I had a million bags and this extremely heavy baby carrier to haul around and I was just wondering how the hell other moms do it? Especially with multiple children!! After a couple of months, I eventually got the hang of it. But let’s just say becoming a parent has given me a whole other level of respect for other parents. We truly are super heroes! We are at our little one’s mercy and often times that can lead to neglecting our own personal needs.. which doesn’t help anybody! If mommy isn’t taking care of herself, she won’t be much help to anybody else. As a new mom, sitting down and enjoying your meals or drinking your coffee while it’s still hot shouldn’t have to be a thing of the past (except for maybe the first 3 months). Since your sleeping patterns probably have seen better days, that’s all the more reason to make sure to fuel your body properly and find time to exercise, stretch or move in anyway that makes you feel good.

It took me a solid 4 months to really get back to working out postpartum which was quite a long break considering I had been working out 5 days per week on average for over a decade. But sometimes your body needs a break! Especially after giving birth to a human! So, it’s ok to take your time getting back to exercise. Around 6 weeks postpartum, I started by incorporating stretching and rolling newly tight muscles caused by nursing, holding and rocking a “colicky” baby day and night. I then started working on my pelvic floor and TVA (deep core) muscles after meeting with a pelvic floor therapist, which I highly recommend every woman does, especially pre/postpartum. But I wasn’t quite ready to start hitting the gym again. I was happy to be at home cocooning with my new little obsession so I found ways to incorporate exercise into my everyday. Here are a few of the ways you integrate fitness into your day:

Walk – The easiest form of exercise that you can do just about anywhere. Especially since you can bring baby with you either in a stroller, sling or baby carrier (or if you live in Canada, a sleigh ride in the winter time). Jogging is also a great way to get your cardio with the babe but be sure to talk to your doctor or pelvic floor therapist to see how long you should wait before starting up your running routine. The wait can range anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on your birth experience.

Dance: With or for your baby! Either way, they’ll be entertained. When Valentina was 0-3 months old (in her fussier stage) it seemed like all she wanted was to be walked, rocked or moving in one way or another. So, every morning I would put on some fun tunes and dance a solid 3-5 songs. That’s how I got my cardio in.. along with the countless hours of walking and rocking of course. Oh and singing burns an average of 150 calories/hour so you may as well sing along too!

Take the Stairs: I purposely only use the upstairs change station so it forces me to go up and down the stairs several times per day. You can get a whole workout in on stairs but that’s something I’ll share with you another day (keep a lookout in my Instagram page for at home workouts) instagram.com/fitmamasblog – If you’re looking for more intensity and want to get a burn on the stairs, try the good ol’ Tabata circuit: 20 seconds up the stairs (max effort), 10 seconds rest X 8 rounds.

Stretch/Yoga: What better way to make good use of your time when you’re down on the ground playing with baby or while she’s in her exersaucer, jolly jumper or any one of the million gadgets out there for babies. I usually focus on stretching my hips, glutes and hamstrings since those are always tight. Two of my go to yoga poses to do while I’m hanging out with babe are: Baddha Konasana (butterfly) and Malasana (squat).

Roll: Since tight muscles are often an issue for new moms, it’s something that needs to be addressed for the rest of your body to function optimally. That is why it should be one of your primary focuses when starting to incorporate exercise postpartum. I like to roll out bigger muscle groups like hamstrings and calves with a foam roller which you can do when you’re down on the ground while baby is doing tummy time or playing etc.. To target more specific areas, I like to use a yoga tune up ball, they come in all different shapes and sizes (you can also use a lacrosse ball but keep in mind they are firmer). I personally find rolling the piriformis, hip flexors and upper traps with these balls to be very helpful.

Use Your Baby as a Prop: The workout possibilities are endless here but a few key moves that are easy and safe for you to use your baby as a prop for are good old fashioned squats, sit ups and pushups. Doing assisted sit ups with baby after 4 months of age is also a good way to build their core and help them learn to sit! Simply lay them flat and assist them to a seated position while pulling them up by the hands.

These are all great ways to incorporate fitness with baby by your side. No babysitter or gym membership required. However, when your body has recovered and YOU feel ready to get back to the gym or whatever sports/physical activity you love, do it! Be sure to get cleared for exercise by your doctor first. It’s important to get out of the house and have some time away from the baby and give the baby a chance to spend alone time with dad or another other family member or friend for your own sanity and for the baby’s well being. For some people, that might be as soon as a month or maybe you’ll need more time like I did and start back up into a routine closer to 4 months or longer. The important thing to remember is that you want to start off light and slowly build your intensity back up. Be sure to focus on what your body needs postpartum like stretching and working your core and pelvic floor. In the meantime, try out some of these fun ways to incorporate fitness at home.

I hope I have inspired you to move and have given you some ideas to integrate fitness into your everyday life. I’ll be sharing all sorts of workouts and yoga sequences that you can do in the comfort of your own home via my Instagram page and in future blog posts so start tuned mamas!