Bringing your baby home from the hospital is one of the most exciting and nervous times of being a new parent. There are thousands of resources on how to care for your baby from the day you bring them home, but there are way fewer on how to care for yourself during this time. Here is some advice on easy nutrition for new mums, including what to eat after giving birth and while breastfeeding.
There are several key nutrients that you need to make sure you’re getting enough of after you’ve given birth. Speak to a health professional like your GP or dietitian about how to best get these nutrients into your diet. They may recommend supplementation, but do not begin taking supplements before consulting them first.
This is an essential mineral that most women do not get enough of. It’s especially important after childbirth, with deficiency causing fatigue, slower brain function and depressive symptoms.
2. VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is important to be able to absorb calcium and for bone health. Here in Australia we get a LOT of sun throughout the year but many Australians are still deficient. Be mindful to get outside for walks so you can get some vitamin D from the sun and stretch your legs!
It easily comes from store-bought breads and iodized salt and is important for thyroid function in you and your baby (who gets it through breastmilk). The WHO recommends that post-birth and lactating women have an iodine intake of 250 µg/day.
This works in the body to promote thyroid function, boost mental health (especially important due to postpartum depression) and for your baby’s development. A study done in New Zealand showed that a large number of women were not getting an adequate amount of this mineral. It can be found in foods like Brazil nuts, seafood, eggs, and rice.
If you have chosen to breastfeed, the milk you produce to feed your baby is full of lots of nutrients that initially come from you. If you aren’t eating the right foods to fuel your body, the milk you produce might not have the correct nutrient profile required to nourish your little one.
Many people don’t realise that breastfeeding requires you to eat more calories. You might find that you’re more hungry and thirsty than before you had your baby, but this is because both the fluids and nutrients from your body are being used to create breast milk. Making nutritious food more convenient will keep you feeling your best. And speaking of…
Tips for easy nutrition as a new mum
You have brought a new life into this world and it needs you all the time, regardless of whether you are tired, hungry, or sore. Making sure you’re taken care of is just as important. Here are some tips to make healthy eating post-baby a bit easier.
1. Ask for help – Yes, this is tip #1. You do not have to have it all figured out! If you need your partner to make dinner, or have your mum or friend come over with groceries, that’s totally fine and 100% normal. You have people around you that want to support you during this stressful but exciting time. let them.
2. Pre-baby meal prep – Make your freezer your best friend. Preparing meals for you and your family before you have your baby will take away a little bit of stress.
3. Make quick, nutrient-packed meals – Things like smoothies and soups can be super easy to throw together in order to get in those important nutrients that we mentioned before.
4. Buy easy, snackable foods – Wholegrain crackers with avocado, tomato and cheese; a bowl of yoghurt with fruit and nut butter; and baby carrots or capsicum with hummus are all great options.
5. Make sure you’re drinking enough water! – When you’re busy, it’s easy to forget this simple step. Hydration, hydration, hydration! Drinking enough water can prevent headaches, help with fatigue, lessen constipation, and make hunger cues more accurate.
If you’d like to read more like this, I’ve written a whole series of article about breastfeeding and breastmilk. You can read them here:
How human breastmilk changes pending time of day
Are collagen supplements safe during breastfeeding?
Breast milk composition changes
Breast feed, formula feed or mixed feed?
Breast milk components that help promote sleep