It’s been a tough 9 months, but you made it! Good nutrition is critical in the post-natal period to help you recover and keep up with the demands of motherhood. Now is the time to provide the best nutrition for you and your baby!
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, proper nutrition is important for your recovery from childbirth. Be sure to include plenty of calcium, protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E in your diet to aid in your full recovery and help you maintain your strength. An extra benefit of eating a healthy diet is that proper nutrition will help you cope better with the inevitable fatigue that the new demands of motherhood bring on.
If you are breastfeeding, eating well is a prerequisite for maintaining adequate milk supply. Most mothers require roughly 500 extra calories per day during lactation to keep up with the demands of breastfeeding. Remember, the baby will take nutrients from your body; so be sure to eat well so you can support you and your baby. Dieting during lactation is not appropriate because you need to recover and your baby needs proper nutrition. While breastfeeding, you can still lose weight if you eat a balanced, healthy diet adequate in calories and nutrients.
Remember to focus on the following:
Calcium: Your calcium stores were depleted during pregnancy to help your baby grow and develop. Make sure to eat plenty of calcium rich foods to replenish your stores.
Omega 3s: Omega 3s are critical for your baby’s brain and eye development. If you are breastfeeding, try to incorporate foods high in omega 3s, such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, chia and flaxseed. Studies have shown that Omega 3s also play a role in weight loss.
Antioxidants: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get the necessary antioxidants to help keep your body as healthy as possible. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, preventing cellular damage involved in aging, cancer, and a variety of other diseases.
B-Vitamins: Eat plenty of whole grains and dark greens to ensure your body gets the B-vitamins it needs to maintain proper metabolic pathways. B vitamins play an important role in carbohydrate metabolism, red blood cell formation, and work to promote healthy nerves.
Fluids: Make sure to drink a lot of fluid (water especially). If you are breastfeeding, you may be depleting your fluids through the milk you are producing. Try a splash of fresh lemon or cucumber for added flavor.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and medications (speak to your MD): Most everything you eat or drink goes directly to your baby through breast milk. Don’t eat or drink anything you wouldn’t want your baby to have!
Exercise: If you are feeling good and your doctor has given you permission to exercise, moderate to intense activity is recommended! This will help with energy as well!