One of the most important things that we can do for a healthy pregnancy is conscious, well rounded nutrition. What we so often fail to talk about is the importance of maintaining this optimal nutrition following pregnancy into the postpartum and breastfeeding phases. During pregnancy you're told which foods to avoid, and hopefully which foods to maximize in your diet. A lot of these foods remain the same after childbirth, plus a couple extra.
Keep it simple and aim to get the following in your belly as often as possible:
Protein - you will need almost as much as you did during those last two trimesters, but it should be a little easier to get it in. Protein is an important component of breastmilk, and critical for supporting moms energy level.
Fiber - get fiber through whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, raw fruits and veggies. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar, and it gets that crazy digestion back on track.
Healthy Fats - Some good examples are fats from nuts, seeds, coconuts, olives and avocados. These help our bodies to heal postpartum, and absorb all of these nutrients we're putting in.
Iron - Anemia is not uncommon after childbirth. Eat foods high in iron to help replace your depleted iron stores quickly. Meat and eggs are great sources. However, if you're vegetarian remember to pair vegetable sources of iron like lentils, greens, seeds and tempeh with foods high in vitamin C to help with absorption.
Calcium - the demands on the body for calcium remain high during breastfeeding so its important to supplement through food rather than deplete the calcium in your bones. Dairy products, dark green leafy veggies, oatmeal, molasses, and pistachios are great sources of calcium.
Other Macro & Trace Minerals - zinc, magnesium, selenium, potassium etc... all help in the regulatory and structural functions of the body such as, hormone production, the immune system, and tissue repair. We lose a lot of these minerals during childbirth and need to put them back afterwards for a strong rebound and milk production.
Food sources high in minerals include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, cold water fish, raw fruits and veggies.
Some simple hacks to make taking care of yourself easier at this time:
Give simple, yet specific requests for freezer meals to friends and family so that you don't end up with 10 pans of lasagna!
Make nutrient dense muffins, pancakes, bars, smoothie packs, and overnight oats in large batches for quick access.
Put a list of must haves on the fridge to make restocking easier for partners and friends.
Find a low sugar food bar that you like, and buy it by the box. Keep them wherever you are most likely to nurse.
Keep your water bottle with you, and drink to thirst
Drink nutritive teas like nettles, oatstraw, or red raspberry leaf to help keep you hydrated and give a big boost to those lost minerals.
Don't skip breakfast
Don't eat a lot of empty calories; it will not help the cause!
Keep refined sugar and caffeine to a minimum
Continue taking a high quality prenatal.
Here is a simple recipe for a nutritious smoothie perfect for the postpartum time. It's packed with magnesium to alleviate muscle soreness, potassium to help keep you hydrated and combat fatigue, and if you add a handful or two of raw or frozen spinach, it's packed with iron to rebuild blood stores.
Sleep deprivation and fluctuating hormone levels are real, and they are certainly enough to deal with on their own. Add in poor nutrition and you've got a fine recipe for postpartum depression, and low milk supply. Do yourself a favor, and take some time to plan for your postpartum period while you are still pregnant. Your wellness is worth it!
To maximize your diet and optimize your first few weeks of parenthood, consider our in-home culinary service. We will personalize your entrees, which are prepared in your kitchen, packed in oven proof glass containers, labeled with recommended reheating instructions and stacked in your refrigerator. We will leave your fridge full of ready to eat, delicious, nutrient dense foods, and a clean kitchen!