Post-Partum Diet: Getting Healthy Again Once Your Little One Has Arrived
As new moms, we are constantly reminded how we need to “get our body back” after Baby has arrived. It’s not uncommon for women to want to bounce back as soon as they’re home from the hospital. Let’s face it: becoming a mommy changes us, on the inside and out, sometimes in ways we don’t expect. Here are a few nutrition tidbits to keep in mind as you’re going through the transition from pregnant to post-partum:
· You need energy to heal. Energy meaning calories. You’ve just been through a huge ordeal physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your body needs to replenish itself from labor, not to mention your uterus needs to heal. After the birth of a baby, there is a wound left where the placenta was attached – the same with any other wound, women need additional calories and enough protein to ensure proper healing.
· You’ll bleed for about 6 weeks, so we want to make sure that you’re replenishing your iron stores. High iron foods include most meats, poultry, and seafood, and can include spinach, soy products like tempeh and soy milk, and even enriched cereals.
· Sleep impacts hormones and cravings. Hormones take a drastic change after birth. Plus, lack of sleep (and who is getting much shut eye with a newborn?) can mess with hormones even more. Skimping on sleep can increase ghrelin, your hunger hormone, making you feel hungrier, and decrease leptin, the hormone which helps you feel satisfied after a meal. Your body may be craving more high-sugar and high-fat foods to help you power through the days and nights with less sleep.
So, when the cards seem stacked against you, what’s a new mom to do? A great starting point (for when you feel ready) is to focus on building healthy habits while settling into a new routine. Here are some tips to get started:
· Eat on a regular schedule, no longer than three to four waking hours without eating. This will ensure you stay nourished and can help avoid overhunger (aka “hanger”) that can lead to less nourishing choices.
· Aim for balanced meals with at least three food groups. This will help to ensure that you’re getting a wide variety of macronutrients (carbs for energy, protein for rebuilding, fat for satisfaction) and micronutrients (a variety of vitamins and minerals, which helps your body feel nourished). Cutting out foods or food groups without a medical reason can set up the risk for nutrient deficiencies and impose even more stress.
· Add more fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to add a nutritional punch, plus fiber (for your heart and gut). Plus, building this habit now can make it easier to incorporate when your little one starts their own solid food adventure.
· Focus on health over weight. It’s easier said than done, but eating a nourishing diet (be it for nourishing for your body or soul) will help you feel better mentally and physically than focusing on a body that will be continually changing for months on end.
· Sleep when you can. Feeling rested is a game changer when it comes to caring for yourself and your baby, not just with food choices, but sleep will recharge you emotionally as well.
· Be kind to yourself. There is no time in your life when you’ll experience more rapid change or day-to-day stress as when you have a new baby to care for. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go kind of experience and mistakes will happen. Take heart in knowing that all new moms have been there. Reach out to friends and family (they really do want to help!), a doula, lactation consultant, your OB, a counselor, or any other support you can find!
Resources for New Moms:
· Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
· Does this Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? By Claire Mysko and Maagali Amadei
· Body Kindness with Rebecca Scritchfield, episodes 89 and 111
· Love, Food with Julie Duffy Dillon, episodes 82 and 105
· The Embodied & Well Mom Show with Lindsay Stenovec (formerly The Nurtured Mama)
Kelly Houston, MS, RDN, LD, CLC is a registered dietitian in Maryville, IL. She works with women to provide “nutrition coaching you can feel good about” and works to take the shame and guilt out of food and eating. Additionally, she has recently become a Certified Lactation Counselor, which has helped her expand to infant feeding, from day one through the introduction of solid foods, with her workshops in baby-led weaning. A mom herself, Kelly is expecting her third child in June 2019.
You can contact Kelly at :
P: 618.288.7408 x 228