There can be so much to think about when becoming a mum. Once baby arrives, you might be feeling busy, confused or even overwhelmed about all the new responsibilities on your plate.
While we talk a lot about feeding your baby (whether that’s breast milk or formula), it can be easy to neglect nourishing ourselves during our postpartum period. If we had to choose between an hours’ sleep, a shower or cooking a balanced meal, a lot of us might put cooking in the ‘too hard’ basket.
But there is an important link between what we eat and how we feel, especially in those first few weeks after birth. So, we chatted with Kathryn Stoneman, a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Mindfulness Teacher, mum of three and Founder of Mamma Nurture (a platform supporting the journey from woman to mother).
Keep reading to discover the benefits of postpartum nutrition, what foods can be helpful and what foods to steer clear of during this time.
Why does postpartum nutrition matter?
Bringing new life into the world is a big achievement, so be proud of yourself, mama! Over the last nine months, your body has done so much for you to grow this new life. Plus, birth can take a huge toll on our bodies, too.
That’s why fueling our bodies with the right nutrients and foods is so beneficial. Nourishing our bodies with the right foods can help to:
- Support our recovery after birth and replenish any lost iron, DHA (a form of Omega-3 fatty acids), collagen and vitamin C or any other nutrients our bodies might be lacking.
- Promote milk production and enhance the quality and quantity of our milk supply (if you decide that breastfeeding is right for you).
- Support overall wellbeing, aid digestion and give you the energy you need as a busy new mama.
As Kathryn explains, “when we’re not having the right nutrition and the right amount of calories, then it affects everything. It affects our mood, it affects our energy, and it affects our breast milk supply.”
And if eating balanced meals are the last thing on your mind right now, you’re not alone mama.
“Food is often ignored or we’re eating the wrong type of food. I was totally guilty of that in my first pregnancy, reaching for really quick snacks instead of really filling up on highly nutritious food, which would last and build up my milk supply,” reveals Kathryn.
What foods should mums prioritise in their postpartum period?
So, what kind of foods and nutrients should we do our best to prioritise as a new mama? Kathryn shares a few insights based on the Ayurvedic postpartum diet (an age-old system of medicine from India) that we can try to add to our postpartum diet.
But please be sure to listen to your own body, chat to a professional nutritionist about your own situation if needed and do what feels right for you.
- Focus on warming foods like hearty soups, broths and warm drinks (the kind of foods you’d imagine eating in the middle of winter).
- Include plenty of root vegetables into your diet (these can help you feel grounded after you’ve had your baby).
- Add warming (not hot) spices to your food such as cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg to nourish and warm your body.
- Try using Ghee (a form of clarified butter) instead of oils when cooking to add a really nourishing, healthy fat into your diet.
Looking for specific recipes on what foods you can prepare for your postpartum period? Kathryn recommends mamas pick up a copy of “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” cookbook, for a bunch of nourishing recipes to try.
What foods should mums avoid in their postpartum period?
On the flip side, Kathryn also highlights a few types of foods we should try to steer away from during our postpartum period. These include any cold foods, foods that are high in sugar or highly processed foods that won’t give us the long-lasting energy we need.
However, Kathryn is quick to point out that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves or deny ourselves of foods we’re craving.
“It’s really important to listen to our bodies,” explains Kathryn. “So if you’re craving a milkshake, go and grab yourself a milkshake. Our bodies tell us what we need. They do that during pregnancy and they do that in postpartum if you listen very carefully.”
Kathryn’s top tips for mamas navigating postpartum nutrition
Our postpartum period can be beautiful, busy and challenging. So Kathryn shares a few practical suggestions for how we can help make things a bit easier:
- Try to prepare and freeze batches of nourishing soups and broths during your pregnancy that you can grab and reheat when you need them.
- Start a meal train with your girlfriends and don’t feel guilty asking for food!
- If you need a hand asking for help, download Kathryn’s free “The Mama Nurture Food from Friends” template, which allows you to ask for meals to be delivered to you in the weeks after your baby has arrived (without feeling awkward or guilty). Grab your copy via the Mamma Nurture homepage.
If in doubt, please always consult your healthcare professional. If you’re looking for other ways to prepare for the fourth trimester, read this blog.
We have reposted this blog on postpartum nutrition with permission and minor edits from Lactamo.