Postpartum: 5 things to eat now to help your body heal after pregnancy and birth
Congratulations, new mum.
You have done it – grown and birthed a baby. That is no small feat, you super-woman.
Being pregnant and having a baby, no matter what way you give birth, it is a massive undertaking for our bodies, and more and more, experts are calling for the first few months postpartum to be reckognized as part and parcel of this process, the fourth trimester, if you will.
Why? Because this is a time for massive changes too. Your body is trying to heal and gather strenght after what it has just gone through, both physically and emotionally. Your hormones are trying to return to their pre-pregnancy levels. And for those who are breastfeeding, remember that your body is also now responsible for making food to grow and develop your tiny little baby.
So now, more so than ever, it's important to eat to nourish your body as much as possible, and support it with good, wholesome healthy food.
Here are five great tips for 4th trimester nutrition from US Clinical Nutritionist Gina Ulrich. Gina is a nutritionist who specialises in Women’s Health, Fertility and Infant Nutrition:
- Pop that multivitamin! You may be deficient in some vital nutrients that are required for neurotransmitter or hormone synthesis. A multivitamin will help to fill the gaps in your diet. It won’t replace a healthy diet. Taking a high quality multi-vitamin designed for pregnant and lactating women is just as important if not more so than it was during pregnancy. If you have had significant blood loss I would also advise to follow up with your health professional to check your iron status & supplement appropriately.
- Make your snacks quality! If you do breastfeed, recognize that your energy needs will remain elevated from pre-pregnancy needs (by roughly 300-500 calories per day).
- Focus on Macro-Nutrients. A sensible macro-nutrient balance diet is key, that means protein, good fats & complex carbohydrates from whole food sources with each meal & snack. I can’t stress the importance of protein enough, protein depletion can occur very quickly if there is not adequate dietary intake. A general rule is 1g of protein/kg of body weight but during pregnancy & breastfeeding this will increase to about 1.4g/kg.
- Eat your (Good) Fats. I recommend Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) during pregnancy for fetal central nervous system development and prevention of post natal depression. However, EFA are just as important postpartum. If breastfeeding the hind milk is rich in EFA’s and continues to support baby’s brain development. Research has also shown breast milk rich in EFA’s help with baby’s sleep duration. Now you are all saying give me some EFA’s! I recommend practitioner grade DHA (a type of EFA) and dietary sources from cold-water-fish, nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado & cold pressed oils.
- Stay Hydrated. Staying hydrated will help support soft bowel motions. If you are breastfeeding there is a reason why you always feel thirsty! There is a lot of fluid lost by producing and releasing breast milk. The amount of fluids typically consumed by breastfeeding mothers should be 3 liters (13 cups). Give or take depending on your size & climate.