As a new mom, eating well and staying hydrated can be very challenging. You’re adjusting to a whole new schedule, the needs of your newborn come first, and all of it can often be hard to navigate when you fit in eating, especially when food prep is involved. Add in breastfeeding and lack of sleep to the mix, and you are probably left starving! To help you get the nutrition and calories you need as a new mom, I’ve outlined some key nutrients, strategies and products to keep on hand -- all of which will help keep you energized and feeling more like your old self. These products were lifesavers for me in those early months, and they still are to this day.
Here are 10 food staples every new mom in need of a little pick-me-up should have in their pantry.
- Wild Salmon. Vital Choice canned salmon + Smoked Salmon.Omega fatty acids, which you can get from vegetable oils, nuts and fish, are important for brain development, and eating canned fish is an easy and quick way to get more in your diet. Simply canned salmon to pre-cooked grains, some spinach, roasted chickpeas with some sea salt and olive oil. Bonus: this version also has the bones, which also makes it an incredible source of calcium.
- Oats. Bob’s Red Mill and QiaOats are known for their lactogenic effects, which means it can increase milk supply. Plus, it is a good source of soluble fiber and incredibly easy to prep overnight oats and oat muffins for your breakfast ahead of time.
- Eggs. Preferably pasture raised + organic.Protein doesn’t just help keep you energized, it also satisfies a ravenous appetite. You need about 15 to 20 grams of protein per meal, and an egg gives you about 6 grams. For reference: a piece of chicken has 25 grams, 1 cup of beans has 15 grams, and 1 serving of Greek yogurt has roughly 15 grams. Moreover, nursing moms can get a lot of the vitamins they need to recover and heal after giving birth.
- Avocado.Increasing fats intake is probably the hardest for moms-to-be and new moms because it seems counter intuitive. But it is really essential for many reasons. First, it’s vital to baby’s organ and brain development. It’s also crucial for your metabolism, your milk supply and the quality of your milk. But it’s not just any fats… Women should focus on healthy sources like avocado, fish oils, eggs, olive/oil, coconut/oil, nuts, fuller fat dairy, etc.
- Tahini. Once AgainCalcium, which tahini has a lot of, is a key nutrient for bone health -- along with magnesium, vitamin D and K. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the body draws from mom’s bones to provide for the baby, so it is key for new moms to keep up her calcium consumption to make sure she’s got enough in store!
- Bars. RX bars and RawCrunchWhole food energy bars are key for on-the-go snacks and come particularly handy when you need to eat with one hand. Many bars are filled with preservatives, but these two brands are made with minimal, good-for-you ingredients that are low in added sugar.
- Pre-cooked Grains. Lundberg Farms, Seeds of Change, Suzie’s OrganicsWhole grains are an important part of a new mom’s diet. They are rich in fiber, which can keep postpartum constipation at bay. Quinoa is particularly high in fiber and will also give you a healthy dose of protein and iron, which you’ll need after giving birth. Heat-and-eat grains are a perfect pairing to any dish.
- Seeds. Eden individual pumpkin seeds pack, Hemp HeartsHemp, chia, pumpkin and flax are all great alternatives. Filled with fiber, omegas and magnesium, these seeds are superstars for pre- and postnatal health. Magnesium helps combat constipation, headaches and insomnia.
- Fermented veggies. Bao CulturedThrough the process of fermentation, cultured vegetables are instilled with probiotics, which are also known as good bacteria. Probiotic helps absorb nutrients, aids digestion and are considered essential for gut health. And I believe that a happy gut makes a happy mom. You can consume probiotics through supplements or foods that are rich in it, like Kefir or fermented vegetables.
- Soup. Bone broth BrodoNYC.
Delicious and comforting, soups are known as a bit of a cure-all. They build strong bones, boosts the immune system, improves digestion and supports joints, hair, skin and nails. An excellent source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus (which make it great for our bones and teeth), it is also rich in chondroitin, glucosamine (good for our joint health and against inflammation), glutamine and other amino acids that are especially healing to the gut and your immune system.
Stephanie Middleberg is a registered dietitian and founder of Middleberg Nutrition, a health and wellness practice in NYC. She is a native New Yorker who earned her Masters in Clinical Science and RD at New York University. Her innate ability to zero in on individuals’ key food triggers has led to ongoing relationships with thousands of clients, editors, and publications such as Harper's Bazaar and Elle. Stephanie has also appeared on major television networks like ABC’s Good Morning America. When she isn't working, you can find Stephanie jogging with her husband and son, traveling, or concocting recipes in the Middleberg Nutrition Test Kitchen.