Labour and delivery is like a marathon, you prepare and prepare for it, run the race of your life, and deliver a beautiful baby. Like most athletes you are exhausted after, your body aches and the sleep deprivation starts kicking in. You need a plan for your recovery and included in your postpartum plan should include your nutrition. What we eat can help us recover physically, emotionally, and mentally and give us energy when we need it the most. Postpartum Healing Starts with Nutrition.
What should you include in your diet postpartum?
On average we lose 500ml of blood during childbirth (it is often underestimated and can be higher) and any amount of blood loss can leave you feeling exhausted, depressed, irritable and affect your milk supply. Dark leafy green foods like swiss chard and kale are great to have steamed or blended into a morning smoothie. Pears, prunes, beans, lentils, and red meat are also good forms of iron.
Many expecting mamas experience hemorrhoids during their pregnancy or develop them during the pushing stage of labour. We also deal with constipation postpartum from pregnancy, and iron supplements and pain relievers. Not to mention the very real fear our first bowel movement. Adding in extra fibre daily will help relieve constipation and keep our stool soft to let our perineum and hemorrhoids heal. Oatmeal is a fantastic source of fibre and it is also known as a galactagogue, a food that boosts milk supply. Think about also adding blackberries, lentils, avocados, and prunes to your diet to increase fibre. Do not forget to drink lots of water when increasing your fibre intake!
Remember that marathon you just ran? Your muscles are sore from the contractions and pushing for an hour or more. Protein helps to soothe your sore muscles but also grow and repair cells within our bodies. Protein is equally important for our baby’s cell growth. Eggs, yogurt, cheese, nuts, beans, seeds, beef, and chicken are great sources of protein.
Foods high in omega 3 have anti-inflammatory properties that help our brain, skin, and immune system development and recovery postpartum. Healthy fats also help our body absorb other nutrients we eat, as well as boost our energy and stabilize our hormones. Fat is also a major component of breast milk for our growing babies. Examples of omega 3 rich foods are walnuts, fatty fish (salmon), and flaxseeds.
Whole grain starchy carbohydrates will help keep you fueled up for the long day ahead, keep your blood sugar levels balanced and give you extra energy. Think whole wheat grains, whole wheat pasta, brown or wild rice and grains (quinoa, barley, etc.)
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are power foods, and many are antioxidants! They are excellent sources of vitamin, mineral including calcium and iron which aid in our healing and immunity and keeping ourselves healthy postpartum. Superfruits and vegetables include citrus fruits, blueberries, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale.
Remember diet is just one key part of your recovery from pregnancy, labour, and delivery. Keep some snacks and lots of water close by wherever you are so you are always fueled. We need to keep you eating well with proper sleep.
Reach out to a local dietician or nutritionist in your area who specializes in postpartum moms to develop a recovery plan for you and your local Mama Coach can help you navigate the first few months of motherhood with our newborn packages, feeding support, and newborn courses!