Following a specific postpartum diet can be extremely beneficial for both the mom and baby.
Having a baby takes a toll on your body whether you have a baby naturally or need to have a C-section. During your healing and recovery time, your body needs extra nutrients and calories. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding. Postpartum nutrition is essential for both you and your baby; however, many new moms focus so much on their baby and other children that they end up neglecting themselves and their nutritional needs at a time when it is more critical than ever to get proper nutrition.
After you have a child, most people, including dieticians, have a hard time even thinking about eating a healthy and balanced diet. New moms are so focused on taking care of their child and themselves. Unfortunately, most new moms forget about how important nutrition is. After having a baby, most women will be satisfied with whatever food is placed in front of them. Expectant moms can avoid this issue by preparing healthy freezer meals ahead of time and keeping nutritious snacks in their pantry.
If you are expecting or are a new mom, check out these top five postnatal diet and nutrition tips to ensure you are receiving the nutrition you need to properly heal and breastfeed your newborn.
- Ask friends and family members to help. When you come home from the hospital, you will be focused on nurturing the bond with your baby, establishing a feeding pattern and resting and recovering from delivery. During the first couple of weeks, you will need help with household chores, such as laundry, dusting, sweeping and doing dishes as well as preparing healthy meals and snacks. If you have prepared freezer meals in advance, great! If not, you should ask your friends and family members if they would be willing to provide healthy, homecooked meals for the first couple of weeks. The best meals are those that can be quickly heated up and include lots of nutritious veggies, fruits, and lean proteins. Additionally, you should have healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh fruits and vegetables that have been washed, prepared and cut up. For added ease, place these snacks in individual containers.
- Do not skip breakfast. Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Just because your schedule is hectic does not give you permission to skip breakfast. Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast is essential, even if you plan to go back to bed and sleep awhile longer. Most new moms find it easier to enjoy breakfast before their baby’s morning feeding. Proper nutrition is essential for breastmilk production. Many times breastfeedings can take up to an hour in the beginning. By eating breakfast first, you will have the energy needed to care for your baby. There are many great choices when it comes to breakfast; however, there is a few things that must be included in each meal – protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fluids (Milk, fruit juice or water are all great choices). Even if you baby is hungry and will not wait for you to eat a full breakfast, you can grab a high fiber muffin, a piece of fruit and a glass of milk and enjoy your breakfast while breastfeeding.
- Have a variety of one-handed snacks on hand. Homemade muffins, cookies, trail mix, hard boiled eggs, granola bars, fruits and individual yogurts are great to have on hand for a quick, nutritious snack. Before your due date, go to the store and stock up on healthy snacks. You can also ask your partner to make sure you have a variety of ready to eat vegetables and fruits that have been washed and cut up. If easy to eat snacks are not on hand, you may be tempted to ignore your hunger and care for your baby. Unfortunately, this can cause nutritional deficiencies that can slow down your healing and decrease your milk supply. It’s important to have a good and healthy breastfeeding diet on a daily basis.
- Water is your best friend. After having a baby, it is essential to remain hydrated. Proper hydration is essential for healthy digestion, milk production and is key to a healthy postpartum diet and breastfeeding diet. Get a new insulated water bottle that will keep your water cold all day long and always keep your water bottle with you. Drink before you feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration. Additionally, if you notice your urine is dark, it is an indication that you should drink more water. Because your body must be properly hydrated in order to produce enough breastmilk, do not skip this all-important step.
- There are three nutrients that are essential to a new mom’s health, breastmilk production and a healthy postpartum diet – protein, calcium, and iron. These nutrients aid in recovery after labor and delivery, provide your body with the nutrients needed for breast milk production and ensure that your baby is getting the nutrients he/she needs from your breastmilk. Most protein-rich foods are also high in iron. Examples of iron-rich and protein-rich foods are lean cuts of meats, poultry, eggs, fish, lentils and beans. You should aim to get one serving of protein and iron rich foods at each meal and snack time. Additionally, to help your body better absorb iron, include a vitamin C rich food like citrus fruits, berries or bell peppers, especially if you are consuming non-animal sources of protein and iron. Calcium is found in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt; dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Additionally, many calcium-rich foods are also great sources of protein, but not iron.
Hope the postpartum diet and nutrition tips are helpful. If you have any postpartum diet tips, breastfeeding diet tips or nutrition tips for new moms, please share in the comments below.
Shana is a physical trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness. Many people don’t know or fully understand the toll pregnancy takes on the body, and the work necessary to bring it back to speed. Baby Boot Camp also specializes in postpartum nutrition and offers one on one guidance and classes with Baby Boot Camp® Nutrition Solutions.