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The best foods to support your postpartum recovery nutrition

Find out what your diet needs those first few weeks postpartum.

postpartum recovery foods

Postpartum nutrition is incredibly important, yet often overlooked. After all, new mamas are busy! But pregnancy and birth take a major toll on your body, and you now need to recover.

If you are breastfeeding, your body is working hard to create and maintain your milk supply—you need about 500 extra calories every day! (That is more than what you needed during pregnancy!) And of course, you are adjusting to life with a newborn which can be physically demanding as well.

In The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, Dietician Nutritionist Crystal Karges shares that a nutrient-dense postpartum diet is critical to replenish your energy and electrolytes, and to support wound healing (such as tears or surgical incisions).

Not only does nourishment allow your body to heal physically from pregnancy and birth, but it may also protect your emotional health. We need to learn more about it, though it appears that good nutrition can decrease the risk of developing postpartum mood disorders.

In the first few weeks after delivery, try to make your postpartum recovery nutrition a top priority (a great way to do this is by asking friends and family to help provide meals). Lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce and hydration are going to be your best friends.

Here are the nutrients to focus on to support your postpartum recovery, plus what to add to your grocery list to get them.


Calcium

During pregnancy, the body draws calcium from mom's bones to support the growth of the baby. During breastfeeding, the body continues to pull calcium from you into the breast milk. Getting enough calcium is essential to preventing long-term bone loss and osteoporosis down the road.

Calcium-rich foods to add to your grocery list:

  • Dairy
  • Sesame
  • Fish with small ones (sardines)
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Fortified non-dairy milks

B vitamins

B vitamins like folate, biotin, B6 and B12 are involved in many of the body's essential processes. Taking in these vitamins can help boost your energy and ward off sad feelings, and possibly depression. Plus, the B vitamin, biotin, plays a role in hair growth. The degree to which biotin helps to regenerate new hair is debatable, but it can't hurt to boost your biotin, since its deficiency has been linked to thinning, brittle hair.

Hormonal birth control can deplete B vitamin levels, so if you are re-starting the pill, now is an especially good time to think about these vitamins.

B vitamin-rich foods to add to your grocery list:

  • Whole grains
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Red meat

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, low energy, bone problems and even weight gain. The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun, but that can be hard to do (especially if you're always wearing sunscreen, which we recommend). So, opt for foods high in vitamin D or a supplement.

Vitamin D-rich foods to add to your grocery list:

  • Fortified dairy
  • Egg yolks
  • Cod and cod liver oil

Protein + iron

These nutrients will help you rebuild your muscles and tissues as you heal because they replenish blood store losses. When your body has what it needs to heal, you will have more energy and feel better in general. Protein will also support your milk supply if you are breastfeeding and can help you feel more satisfied after meals and keep your energy levels stable throughout the day.

Your iron needs are higher when breastfeeding and menstruating, and if you've lost a significant amount of blood during labor. Make sure your iron levels are in check because low levels (like we see in anemia) can contribute to fatigue, as well as dry, brittle nails and hair. While taking iron supplements will not prevent the natural hormonal changes that lead to postpartum hair shedding, being iron deficient will contribute to dry, dull hair, making the loss of those locks a little worse.

Protein and iron-rich foods to add to your grocery list:

  • Lentils
  • Liver
  • Shrimp
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Fortified whole grains
  • Spinach
  • Molasses
  • Nuts

Omega 3's

Healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties that can do wonders for the brain, skin and immune system. To continue that pregnancy glow, opt for more omega's in your diet, especially since your body will be pulling in that DHA from your stores into the breast milk.

Healthy fats will help your body absorb the other nutrients you eat, as well as boost your energy and stabilize your hormones. Fat is also a major component of breast milk, supporting its ability to help your baby grow and develop.

Omega 3-rich foods to add to your grocery list:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, sardines and cod)
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds

The main concept, mama, is to nourish your body. Treat yourself like the goddess that you are, and fuel yourself with delicious and beneficial foods.

You deserve all the fourth trimester nutritional support you can get, mama. Here are some our favorite items to help you thrive as you recover.

'The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama'

motherly guide to becoming mama

The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama will carry you through the fourth trimester with love and grace. Learn how to thrive, not just survive, as you transition into motherhood.

$20

Needed collagen protein

Needed collagen protein

Developed by mamas and scientists, this dissolvable collagen protein is made just for pregnant mamas. Just add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal to help with blood sugar management, minimizing nausea, and to grow baby's cells and the placenta.

$50

Natalist prenatal + omega duo

Natalist prenatal + omega duo

Covering off on a laundry list of pregnant mama needs, the high-quality, evidence-backed supplement duo from Natalist is great for helping check the nutrients boxes.

$50

Bamboo food storage containers

food storage containers

Keep your postpartum meals fresh and organized in these delightful bamboo storage containers. Bonus: They double as plates. That means less cleaning and more snuggling!

$22

Cheese making kit

cheese making kit

Ideally, someone will be making food for you. But if cooking makes you happy, and if you love cheese as much as we do, you will adore this DIY cheese-making kit. It allows you to make eight batches of cheese—all you need is milk. Get that calcium, mama!

$30

A portion of this article has been excerpted from The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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