Nutrition postpartum is just as essential as nutrition during pregnancy and I'm here to share five things you should know!
No worries, that's why I'm here to share 5 nutrition bites.
In this post:
What the heck can I eat?
Eating for your milk supply
Nutrition and postpartum depression
1. What the heck can I eat?
Food fear after pregnancy is real!!! I've been told to avoid coconut milk and beans because the baby will get "gripe", drink cow's milk to produce more breast milk and steer clear of sugar! - So what is it?
Choose a wide variety of foods from ALL food groups. Keep it balanced.
Fill up on healthy sources of:
protein (animal or plant based)
fruits & vegetables
complex carbs (fiber-rich)
healthy fats like avocados, nuts & seeds
Calorie needs are increased (an additional 450-500 calories) after pregnancy but vary based on your activity levels, body size, extent of breastfeeding and presence of a medical condition, so always seek the guidance of your doctor and Registered Dietitian.
Monitor your body's response to foods and reduce or avoid those that cause upset stomach, gas, bloating or allergic reactions. The CDC recommends up to 300mg of caffeine for nursing mamas (~2-3 cups of coffee) and that you should eat a variety of seafood, being mindful of mercury levels (read the FDA's chart here).
2. Prenatal Supplements
Due to increased nutrient needs during breastfeeding, new mamas may not get adequate nutrients via their diet alone (CDC) and it is often recommended to continue taking your prenatal vitamins...yup, the prenatal ones... check in with your OB/GYN of course!
You may not appreciate this tip until you've gotten into a comfortable position to nurse or rest...then you get hungry! - Unless your significant other or a member of your support "village" is there to get your bites for you, always remember to set-up your nursing/feeding space with food BEFORE you sit (you'd thank me later).
Snacking is an awesome way to keep your energy levels up and nourish your healing body with essential nutrients to aid with your recovery postpartum. Read more about snacks here and checkout my eGuide to snacking (use coupon code: snackguide for 20% off).
4. Eating for your milk supply
This one had me! I KNEW what to expect, but as a first time mama I still freaked out!
What to expect
Your milk supply does not "come in" on it's own once your baby is born (this means you may not be able to squirt hubby with milk on day 1...darn it!).
The "first milk" (#colostrum aka #liquidgold) is produced immediately after birth and is filled with essential nutrients and antibodies to provide the baby with nutrition and immunity. Colostrum lasts between 3 to 5 days before you may see the "mature milk".
The suckling action from your nursing baby stimulates a feedback mechanism that increases the production of breast milk - nurse more often to increase your supply. When you skip nursing, your production decreases. It's as simple as that.
How to eat
I...drank...a...lot...of...#vervain tea - but that's also because I struggled to get a proper latch and was not making the best of that feedback mechanism I mentioned above to increase my milk supply. Did the vervain actually work? Umm, can't say for sure.
Nonetheless, eating adequate amounts of food provides your body with the fuel needed for both you and your baby.
Don't skimp - your breastmilk will adjust to ensure that your baby continues to get optimal nutrition even if you are not eating enough, but that means it's drawing a lot of you...and you, mama, need to be well-fed.
5. Nutrition and postpartum depression
Your #mentalhealth is not a taboo topic and after pregnancy it may even change.
About 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression, according to the CDC, with symptoms such as:
"Crying more often than usual.
Withdrawing from loved ones.
Feeling distant from your baby.
Worrying or feeling overly anxious.
Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby".
The cause of postpartum depression is multifactorial, however, studies have shown that adequate nutrition is needed for proper brain functioning and some nutrients are associated with reduced depression:
Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, herring, nuts, seeds algae)
Vitamin D (sunlight, fatty fish, liver , eggs)
B-vitamins (animal protein, beans, fruits & vegetables)
Minerals - iron, zinc, selenium (red meat, liver, beans, nuts, oysters, fish)
Nutrition for the new mama consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods and snacks to keep you well-nourished and full of energy to keep up with your new lifestyle!
You've got this mama!