Practical postpartum tips for nutrition and health

Having a baby is a life-altering event for so many reasons, wouldn’t you agree?

After the birth of my daughter, I was so proud of what my body had just achieved, and I knew it needed time to recover.

It had nourished my healthy, beautiful baby for forty weeks, and until the very moment when I held her in my arms, I had underestimated just how clever our bodies truly are.

Pregnancy and childbirth made me appreciate my body more than ever before, and I realised how much I needed to look after and nurture it.

Having a baby comes with so much responsibility, and quite often we don’t realise how much is going to be delivered to us with this tiny bundle of joy.

Working as a midwife for many years, and now as a nutritionist working with prenatal and postpartum women, I’ve been asked lots of questions about pregnancy, labour and delivery, but not so much about the postpartum.

I’ve noticed as new moms we are mostly focused on two things in particular-

  • how to go about losing the weight gained in pregnancy quickly

  • when should we start feeling “normal” again?

Having a baby brings about lots of change both physically and mentally, and postpartum is often a time that isn’t discussed enough … in my opinion anyway 🙂

Your New Normal …

First of all, welcome to your new normal!

When I had my babies, I wish I’d had someone like me in my life to stop me striving for the ‘old’ me, because for the first few weeks, I wasted my energy trying to get there.

If you’re feeling this way too, let me tell you that you’re going to feel good, and you will physically recover, but give yourself the time to get there.

Having your first baby, can actually be a shock to the system at times, but the trade-off is definitely worth it. You’ll adjust to your new normal, but I’ll be honest … the first few weeks are usually hard.

Without you even realising it, things become easier as the days and weeks move along and you’ll gradually slip into this new role as a momma, with life being better than ever.

My big message to you here is … be patient with yourself and don’t rush things. You need time to recover, both physically and emotionally.

Let’s Take A Look At Your Postpartum Diet …

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Growing a baby takes time, and your body devotes a significant amount of nutrients and resources to it during pregnancy.

The research tells us that many pregnant women run low in some of the important nutrients needed in pregnancy, and this often worsens after labour, delivery and during postpartum.

The above is the main reason for investing in good quality prenatal supplements during pregnancy AND postpartum.

Some of the common ones to become depleted include …

  • Folate

  • Iron

  • B12

  • Vitamin D

The best way to recover physically from birth is to make sure that you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.

If you’re asking whether this needs a special postpartum diet, reducing your calories, then the answer is no!

Continue thinking about the foods that nourished you and your baby throughout pregnancy, and include them in your diet.

Continue taking your quality prenatal supplements alongside your balanced meals and don’t stress about calorie counting.

If you’re breastfeeding also consider an additional supplement of vitamin D and omega-3’s (DHA & EPA).

Think about nutrient dense foods, rather than the empty processed calorie ones 🙂

Here are nourishing foods for you to include …

  • Beef

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Citrus fruits

  • Berries

  • Eggs

  • Chia seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Cruciferous vegetables

  • Soups

  • Bone broth

Don’t think about perfection every meal time, do your best, and accept any meal offers from your family and friends … believe me, this will save you on the days that get busy with feeds, visitors and diaper/nappy changes!

And don’t forget about the all important hydration! Drink enough water each day, and aim for this throughout the day rather than gulping down several glasses at mealtimes.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll find yourself reaching for water more than ever so always make sure you have a glass handy at feeding times for when that thirst hits you hard!

Rest Up …

Many moms feel pressured to get back to the gym ASAP after having a baby, but in these very early days, this is far from the most urgent thing.

Rest and recovery are very important so please don’t feel guilty that you haven’t bounced back to your pre-pregnancy fitness within a few weeks or even months.

In these early days/weeks, new mommas need grace and reassurance more than anything, and the understanding that everything’s not a race.

Trust your body and the postpartum process, along with breastfeeding demands and give yourself time to bond with your baby and celebrate this new journey in your life. Whether this is your first or fourth baby, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is so very important.

Physical Activity …

Regardless of your type of delivery, your body needs time to recover, so don’t rush into excessive physical activity too early.

Walking is often underestimated, so getting outside with baby in these early days/weeks will give you some gentle exercise, plus it’ll get you out in the fresh air and sunlight offering you some natural vitamin D 🙂

Pelvic floor and abdominal weakness after delivery is important to be aware of, and asking for professional assistance for this is often underestimated.

Having an assessment with your doctor, specialised fitness expert and/or physical therapist should be on your to-do list. Unfortunately, a lot of women don’t realise that these problems won’t fix themselves, so don’t be shy and ask for help if you need it 🙂

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