A healthy diet and appropriate supplements are important for a new Mother, especially to help facilitate quicker healing. It can also help to prevent exhaustion and low mood postpartum.
Here my top nutrition tips for new Moms!
There isn’t one diet that fits all. However, most people do well with a mix of vegetable and protein rich foods. The core of a healthy diet includes the following:
fresh vegetables (colourful, leafy green, cruciferous, etc.)
whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats)
legumes/beans (chick peas, lentils, all types of beans)
nuts/seeds (tree nuts, hempseeds, flaxseeds, chiaseeds, sunflower, etc.), and
certain meats (free range when possible especially poultry, and certain fish – wild, cooked, and low on list for contaminates – see www.EWG.org or https://davidsuzuki.org for lists).
It is also important to drink plenty of water each day. I usually suggest at least two cups more than when not pregnant or breastfeeding per day. You may find yourself feeling parched after having a baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding!
Choose foods high in tryptophan and tyrosine as these amino acids are important building blocks for serotonin and dopamine (our “happy hormones”). Examples of foods rich in these amino acid rich include: meat, fish, eggs, some dairy options (preferably organic full fat options), oats, fermented soy, nuts and seeds, seaweed, and of course lots of vegetables!
Bone broth provides amazing nutrition for mom to help replace these important proteins and is also rich in minerals.
Stabalizing your blood sugar levels can help to prevent variability in mood. Having a small meal or snack that includes protein and fiber every two to three hours during the day can help prevent changes in mood.
A number of important nutrients are lost when a woman gives birth to a baby. The most common is iron which facilitates oxygen absorption in the blood, assisting your body in the postpartum healing process and maintaining energy levels.
Here are a few important considerations to help improve your nutrient levels:
Supplement your vitamin B, vitamin D, and fatty acid intake
Staying on a professional quality prenatal vitamin with all of the B vitamins especially a good dose of vitamin B6 and iron (for most women) provides all of the required minerals and vitamins essential for energy but also hormone and neurotransmitter production. Essential fatty acids like those found in fish oil are known to prevent and treat mild to moderate depression. Supplementing with vitamin D3 has been linked to improving mood and for maintaining immune health. It may be a good idea to have your blood vitamin D levels tested to make sure you are in the optimal range.
Monitor your iron levels
Have your healthcare provider rule out and correct iron deficiency or anemia prior to pregnancy when possible and continue to monitor it postpartum. Iron levels become depleted when women lose blood during and after delivery. Ferritin is a blood measurement of stored iron and is usually depleted before true anemia occurs (hemoglobin level is measured below normal range). Hemoglobin and ferritin normally decreases during pregnancy as blood volume increases almost 50% – when this occurs it is not necessarily anemia. After delivery, it can take 4-6 months for hemoglobin to return to pre-pregnancy levels. Other measurements your healthcare provider may obtain to assess iron status include serum iron, TIBC (total iron binding capacity) and transferrin saturation. They may not run your iron levels during the post-partum period so it’s important to ask especially if you lost a lot of blood during delivery.
Consider placenta encapsulation
Consult with your healthcare practitioner regarding a postpartum vitamin regime, including having your placenta encapsulated. The placenta is a rich source of iron and other nutrients such as amino acids, essential fats and your own hormones. When taken in an encapsulated form, it may help you to recover more quickly from birth by helping to balancing your hormones, increasing post partum iron levels, assisting the uterus in returning to size, enhancing your milk supply, shorten postpartum bleeding. The placenta may also help to prevent baby blues of PPD (see my posts on this important topic!).
During breastfeeding, a woman’s caloric need goes up by approximately 500 calories a day; however, the type of calories is more important than actually counting calories. Unless you have a known food sensitivity of allergy, it is ideal to have a variety of healthy foods. You may also find it helpful to avoiding certain foods that are known to cause gas or discomfort for your baby. These may include spicy foods, beans, dairy products, citrus fruits, tomatoes, eggs, wheat, fish, soy and peanut products. Consult with your healthcare provider prior to consuming alcohol as well as recreational and prescribed medications.
There are many ways to use herbs in the postpartum period that can have a profound impact on a new mama’s health. A lot of the herbs that are safe in pregnancy are also safe during breastfeeding. In fact, the same reasons why these herbs are used during pregnancy, are helpful postpartum. For example, red raspberry leaf can help post-delivery bleeding and for the uterus to return to normal size. One thing to note is if your milk supply starts to drop, take a break from red raspberry tea until it returns. Nettles provide important minerals while passion flower can help the nervous system if any anxiety or restlessness is occurring. Rhodiola is an adaptogen and can be helpful to improve energy levels during the day especially if you’re not getting a lot at night.
Culinary herbs can also be used as medicine, so feel free to use them liberally. Examples of herbs include turmeric, thyme, rosemary, fenugreek, cinnamon, and ginger. See my posts on each of these & more!
Sleep is so important but the optimal amount is different for each family member.
It depends on age and other factors.
Find out the healthy sleep ranges by age, for you and your growing family.
Starting with babies (newborn to one year),
toddlers, preschoolers, school aged
children, teens and adults.
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