There is so much preparation that goes into the process of growing and birthing a baby - from the very first discovery of pregnancy to the moment that baby is brought into the world. As mothers-to-be, we pour over the details of pregnancy, including how to best eat and nurture our body to give our babies the best start at life.
But what about once pregnancy is over and those babies have been brought Earth-side?
The truth is that caring for our bodies shouldn’t end at birth, and to thrive through motherhood, we need to continue to nurture ourselves with great care, gentleness, and devotion.
The Importance of Nutrition in Postpartum and Breastfeeding
The truth is that the pregnancy takes an enormous toll on a women’s body, and recovering from birth is a delicate and slow process that takes intention and support. This is in stark contrast to the mainstream messages that women are flooded with after having their babies, including, “Get your body back!”, “Lose the baby weight!”, and “Bounce back quickly!”.
Postpartum wellness has been misinterpreted as weight loss, but in actuality, a woman’s body needs careful attention for recovery and healing in the form of nourishing foods, rest, and support.
The pursuit of postpartum recovery should not be weight loss but rather, giving the body the optimal nutrition needed to heal from the transformative journey of pregnancy.
Focus on Quality Nutrition
In order to support postpartum healing and breastfeeding, a woman needs a variety of balanced meals and snacks that offer nutrient dense foods, including:
- Carbohydrates to sustain energy and promote healing, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, like oats, quinoa and brown rice.
- Protein, for rebuilding tissues and muscles in the body, including poultry, grass-fed beef, seafood, eggs, yogurt, cheese, nuts, beans, and seeds
- Healthy fats to help the body absorb nutrients, for energy storage and hormone regulation, like olive oil, hemp or chia seeds, grass-fed butter, avocado, coconut and fatty fishes like salmon
Nutrition is not about perfection but rather, about treating the body well and giving it the nutrients needed to both promote recovery from pregnancy, support mental health and wellness, and provide the energy needed to sustain milk supply if breastfeeding.
Exactly How to Nourish Your Body Postpartum
Herbs: It’s important to incorporated different herbs into your diet. Although the herbs taste yummy, the main reason to add some seasoning to your diet is to improve lactation! We’ve created a list of ten herbs that can help increase your milk supply. Focus on key herbs like fenugreek, fennel, and alfalfa to boost your breast milk.
Set yourself up for success: Set aside a time for yourself (even once a week) to prep meals and snacks. This could be as simple as stashing a few snack size few bags filled with almonds and cranberries in your pantry. Or you can go all out by prepping one-week of recipes and groceries!
Go-to meals: Keep soothing, easy to digest meals in your freezer like soup, bone broth, or casseroles. As a new mom, it’s likely that your time for making meals will be limited, so prep food ahead of time or double a recipe that you’re making that night. Then freeze leftovers in grab-and-go containers for meals later.
Fluids: What you drink is just as important as what you eat! Be sure to hydrate your body by drinking at least 10–15 glasses of water a day. This is important for all mothers, especially breastfeeding mamas! Keeping hydrated will aid in breast milk production and overall body rejuvenation.
Treats: When you’re so focused on eating healthy and fueling your body, make sure to stay mindful of your body’s telling you. Sometimes, you just might want a treat — and that’s okay! Lean toward dark chocolate, which will satisfy your sweet tooth, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels all in one bite!
Supplements: Finally, supplement your diet with a postnatal vitamin. During this ultra-important time of supporting your health and baby’s development, a vitamin can be key to fueling your motherhood. Look for a high-quality, natural vitamin containing vitamin D, folate, iron, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium.
Supporting the New Mama
If you are a new mama or mama-to-be, congratulations! You are taking part of the miraculous by growing and birthing a precious new life into the world. Just remember, mama - you need care and nurturing, too.
The postpartum period is not a time to worry about losing weight or squeezing back into those pre-pregnancy jeans. Your body has gone through so many changes to bring your little one Earth-side and into your arms and it deserves kindness in return.
Treat it well by keeping yourself nourished. Take some time to pre-plan some meals and snacks and make sure you have plenty of nourishing foods on hand to keep yourself satisfied and energized. Your body (and your little one) will benefit from the care and attention that you dedicate to yourself. If you find yourself needing more help, please be sure to reach out for support. You’ve got this, mama.
Are You Ready To Boost Your Nutrition?
Get a head start on your nutrition by trying a nourishing Majka smoothie at home. Tap the link below to get 4 delicious smoothie recipes to fuel your motherhood sent right to your inbox!
Before you go, here are a few additional resources to look to for continuous support as a new mom:
- "The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother" - by Heng Ou
- "The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions and Restoring Your Vitality" by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- "Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood - and Trusting Yourself and Your Body" by Erica Chidi Cohen
- Oh Baby Nutrition on Instagram (@ohbabynutrition)
- The Nurtured Mama Podcast on Instagram (@thenurturedmama)
- Rock Your Hormones with Stephanie Greunke (@stephgreunke)
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, & mama of 5. With a virtual nutrition practice, Crystal helps overwhelmed mamas nurture a peaceful relationship with food & their bodies, end the battles at the dinner table and transform their kitchens to place of peace & joy. Get the FREE guide, “Better After Baby: How to Get Your Mojo Back in Any Stage of Motherhood” and connect with Crystal on Instagram @crystalkarges.