What You Need to Know About Postpartum Nutrition

Everyone knows the importance of good nutrition while pregnant, but what happens after the baby comes. Typically, new moms are exhausted, trying to figure out the baby’s schedule and many times either forget to eat, or eat something quick that provides little or no nutrition. This is not the best strategy if you want to recover quickly from your delivery and help your newborn to grow and develop.
Maintaining a healthy postpartum diet is also necessary for the healing and recovery process. A good diet supplies you with the energy needed to care for your newborn. If you don’t eat and drink enough, you may not produce enough milk for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding moms need to add around 300-500 additional calories to their daily intake. If you are feeding twins, double that! If you’re not breastfeeding, your caloric intake should be the same as it was before you became pregnant.
Eating properly will also help with deal with fatigue. The best way to fight postpartum fatigue (in addition to getting lots of sleep!) is to eat 5-6 small meals every day. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, eat a mid-afternoon snack and a late night snack. When you’re tired, eat foods that require little or no preparation, like raw vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, trail mix, broiled meats and fish.
Hydration will also keep your body nourished. Keep a pitcher of water beside your breastfeeding chair and keep drinking throughout the day. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will dehydrate you and negatively affect the baby if you are breastfeeding.
Ensuring your calcium intake is insufficient is vital for both your needs and those of your nursing baby. If it is not sufficient, your body will withdraw the calcium stored in your bones in order to produce the nutrient rich milk it needs. That means the future health of your bones suffers. Take the steps now to ensure your continued health.
Calcium can be found in milk products, yogurt, cheese, sardines and salmon with bones, and sesame seeds.
Iron is also an important part of postpartum nutrition. Unfortunately many women become anemic after the birth of their baby. Increasing your iron intake will combat anemia. Foods high in iron include lean red meats, egg yolks, tofu, lentils, figs, spinach and artichokes. Iron is important, but it is also important to help your body absorb the iron. Foods rich in Vitamin C help this happen. We know orange juice contains vitamin C, but you can also find it in other citrus fruits, tomatoes, baked potatoes, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
If you are recovering from a Cesarean section, Vitamin C will help with wound healing. Proteins are also important to help your body repair itself, so make sure your diet includes high protein elements such as cheese, lean meats, seeds, tuna, salmon, lentils and peanuts.
You should not be concerned with weight loss in the initial postpartum period. It can take several months to lose the weight that you gained during your pregnancy. The best way to do this is not by dieting, but rather cutting out high-fat snacks and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can safely lose 3-4 pounds a month as long as you continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Walking is a great form of postpartum exercise and initially helps increase bowel activity and prevent constipation. Drinking water is also very important throughout the postpartum period.
Postpartum can be a difficult time for new moms. Let friends and family help. If they offer to bring over a meal — let them. You’ll appreciate it when you’re too tired to cook, and you will need the nutrition that a home-cooked meal provides. Get rest. Eat well. Love your baby. It’s just the beginning.

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