Eating Well After Baby

Written by: Laura Lacey
Posted: March 03, 2021
You know that what you ate when you were expecting was important to you and your baby but what about now that you’re a new mom? 

Unfortunately, everyone is focused on your health during pregnancy and doesn’t pay attention to your well-being after you deliver. This is normally what happens: 
  • You give birth.
  •  You have your 6th week appointment. 
  • You are given the go-ahead to resume normal activities. 
  • The end!

What you eat after you have your baby is also important because it impacts how quickly you heal, how soon you get your energy back and, if you’re breastfeeding, how well-nourished your baby is.

Giving birth to your baby was probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done; totally worth it but really difficult. You used every ounce of your resources and then some to bring your baby into the world. It was both emotionally and physically challenging.  Now you need to recover. 

Welcome to the 4th trimester, which refers to the 3 months after giving birth. It is a time to heal, rest and connect with your baby. Unfortunately for many new moms these months can be exhausting and frustrating as they try to get back to “normal” while being sleep deprived and caring for a newborn. Feeding herself is probably the last thing a new mom is thinking about. This is understandable but unfortunate because eating the right foods at this time increases her energy level, brings her hormones back into balance and if needed, increases her milk supply.

Here’s what you need to know about eating well postpartum.

During birth there is a tremendous loss of blood, which means your iron supply will be low. Low iron equals low energy. You need to eat iron rich foods. BTW - your first choice should always be real food because the nutrients in foods are absorbed at a much higher percentage than what you get from supplements. Of course, it may be necessary to take supplements in addition to the nutrient dense food you are eating. For example, it is important to take your prenatal supplement even after you give birth. Take it for the whole 4th trimester and if you are breastfeeding, continue until you stop breastfeeding.

You will also need to increase your protein to help heal and repair tissues that were impacted during the birth. This is true whether you had a vaginal birth or a C-section. The act of giving birth can cause trauma to tissues even if you had an uncomplicated birth. Your body is going through major changes. For example, your uterus shrinks back to its normal size, all of your organs which were displaced migrate back to where they were pre-pregnancy, and your breasts start producing milk. This happens regardless of whether you breastfeed or not. Eating enough protein helps your body to heal and repair more quickly.

You also need healthy fats like butter, avocado, flax seeds or flax oil, salmon, and sardines.  Fats boosts energy and stabilize hormones. Fat is also a major component of breast milk so don’t leave fats out of your diet. And by the way, eating fat does NOT make you fat!

You may not think of water as a nutrient, but it is, and you will need plenty of water postpartum. Water hydrates the tissues and makes everything flow smoothly. It is also the main ingredient of breastmilk. As a rule of thumb drink water whenever you feed your baby. That should keep you well hydrated. Try to avoid drinking too coffee or black tea. These act as diuretics and are dehydrating. Whenever you drink coffee or tea make sure to include an extra glass of water.

Every woman is different and has different postpartum nutritional requirements.  Some moms may want to focus on boosting energy while other want to increase milk supply and others may be concerned about how their baby is reacting to what they are eating.

No matter what your needs are, it helps to pay attention to what you eat. 

I know the last month of pregnancy you are focusing on getting ready to meet your baby. This is totally normal and understandable, but I suggest you also think about how you will nourish yourself during the 4th trimester. What are you going to eat once your baby arrives? And by the way, you don’t need to figure this out by yourself! A nutritional consultant can help with the specifics of meal plans making sure to include foods that are both nourishing and that you’ll want to eat. Enlist family and friends to help with food prep. If you love to cook, spend the last month of your pregnancy cooking and freezing meals. You’ll be glad you did.

You can find out more about Lacey and her offerings on the Be Her Village website here!

Category: Lifestyle , Fourth Trimester
Tags: maternal health , body positive , postpartum body , pregnant body , healthy pregnancy , healthy mama , body image