For many women, finding out they are pregnant means getting
healthy: stopping smoking, eating healthy, and adopting a new exercise routine.
But after bringing baby home it can be hard to maintain these healthy lifestyle
changes. Sleep deprivation, lack of routine, and the general demands of
parenting can interfere with good intentions. However, focusing on fueling your
body with a nutrient-rich postpartum diet is very important during this special
time in your life. If you made good changes during your pregnancy, it is a good
idea to keep up with them after your new baby comes home.
Losing the baby weight is a focus for many new moms.
However, it is not advised to go on a strict diet during the postpartum period.
Recovery should be the priority for the first 1-2 months after pregnancy.
Losing weight too fast can impact your milk supply (if breastfeeding) and
compromise your overall nutrition status. It is best to slowly return to your
pre-pregnancy weight, which may take 6-12 months. Be patient, it took 9 months
to put on the weight so it will take some time to take it off. How quickly you
return to your pre-pregnancy weight depends on diet, exercise, how much weight
you gained, and if you choose to breastfeed.
Following delivery, a women’s body is going through a period
of healing and recovery which requires adequate protein, fluid, vitamins and
minerals. On top of healing, the body also needs to restore a lot of important
nutrients. Nutrition needs postpartum are different for breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding
mothers but certain nutrition recommendations are the same for all new moms. For
good health, focus on getting an adequate supply of these 6 important
1. Calcium: While calcium needs don’t change for post-partum women, it is very important to
consume enough. If your diet is lacking in calcium your body may draw calcium
from your bones to keep the calcium content up in breastmilk, this may increase
your risk for osteoporosis down the road.
Choose: Dairy products,
calcium-fortified foods, calcium-set tofu, dark-green leafy vegetables, and fish
with edible bones.
2. Iron: This nutrient helps the body make
new red blood cells, which is especially important if you lost a lot of blood
during delivery. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body. If your brain
is not getting adequate oxygen because your iron levels are low, you can
experience low energy and have difficulty concentrating.
Choose: Meat, poultry, and fish.
Our bodies absorb iron from animal sources 2-3 times better than from plant
sources. Spinach, raisins, prune juice, and baked potatoes also provide iron.
3. Choline: Pregnancy and nursing deplete the body of much of its choline
stores. Choline is important to replenish because it is linked to better memory
and if you are planning on getting pregnant again it is essential for nervous
system development for baby.
4. Folate: Your body needs folate to manufacture new cells and genetic material. Folate
helps develop the neural tube during pregnancy, which becomes the baby’s spinal
cord and brain. If you’re considering another pregnancy soon, it is very
important to make sure you have adequate folate in your diet to replenish your
Choose: Lentils, kidney beans, fortified
grain products, and asparagus.
5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: If breastfeeding, adequate omega-3’s (particularly DHA) in the
diet may help increase the amount of DHA baby receives which helps to support
brain development and provide vision benefits. DHA is added to most infant
Choose: fish (focus on fish low in methylmercury such as cod, haddock,
Pollock, and light tuna), walnuts, and flax seeds.
6. Fluid: Drinking plenty of fluids post-partum serves many purposes. It can help prevent
dehydration, promote normal bowel function, and if you are nursing, help
support good supply. Avoid high amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
Choose: Water, milk or unsweetened plant-based milks, 100% fruit juice,
and decaffeinated tea.
When taking care of a newborn it can be hard to prioritize
healthy eating. Here are some tips to make it easier:
Choose healthy convenience items such as pre-cut
fruits and vegetables, frozen fruit and unsweetened almond milk for an easy
smoothie, washed and ready salad, hummus, individual nut butter packets, and
quick cooking oats.
items ahead of time. If you are ahead of the game, it’s a good idea to prepare
some freezer meals before you deliver. If you’re late to the game, don’t panic,
take advantage of nap times to prepare a few freezer meals.
Meal planning can help reduce meal time
scramble. By having an idea of what’s on the menu, even if it’s just grilled
cheese and a quick salad, can help reduce the urge to call up the pizza joint
down the road.
Try a healthy, pre-prepared meal program like
Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. Let them do the planning, shopping, and
cooking for you.