Eating well after pregnancy
There are lots of recommendations about what to eat before you have your baby while you are pregnant, but not a lot of information about mom’s diet after having a baby. Just as it is important to eat a well-balanced diet throughout the entire pregnancy, it is also essential to be well and eat wisely after baby arrives to get back to your normal level of good energy. And that is certainly needed now with a little one to take care of.
Here are some reminders for post-partum nutritional care of mom.
Protein sources are important at each meal. Excellent choices include:
- Eggs, fish, poultry, red meat
- Milk, yogurt, cheese
- Legumes, nuts, soy foods such as tempeh and tofu
Fiber sources for each meal can keep the system regular, especially if mom is still taking an iron supplement which often causes constipation:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole-grains including breads, cereal, pasta, barley and rice
- Nuts and seeds
Iron sources might be especially important if there was some blood loss during the baby’s delivery:
- Red meat, oysters
- Legumes, lentils
- Iron-fortified cereals
It is also important to stay well-hydrated after giving birth. Be sure to include at least eight cups of fluids daily – water, of course, but milk is another great fluid because it also provide protein. Mom will need to be very attentive to fluid intake if she is nursing to ensure a good milk supply.
If there was a surgical incision, the protein is important for healing but so are certain vitamins and minerals. A variety of fruits and vegetables will deliver these essential nutrients.
Hopefully appetite is good after delivery but if it is so-so, be sure to include some healthy snacks between your meals to obtain all of these essential nutrients. Snacks could include hummus and raw vegetables, cheese and whole-grain crackers, yogurt with berries, cottage cheese and seasonal fruit or almond butter on a multi-grain tortilla.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital