Pregnancy and birth certainly take a major toll on your body. In the first few weeks after delivery, think recovery nutrition – lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce and of course hydration. If you are breastfeeding, your body is working hard to create and maintain that milk supply, which is why you need about 500 extra calories every day – that is more than what you needed during pregnancy!
Here’s a few things you should look out for in your postpartum diet, and what you need to add to your grocery list.
Calcium: During pregnancy the body draws calcium from mom’s bones to support the growth of the baby, and during breastfeeding the body continues to pull calcium from mom into the breast milk. Getting enough calcium is essential to preventing long-term bone loss and osteoporosis down the road.
How to Eat it: Think dairy, sesame, fish with small bones (sardines), legumes, tofu and fortified non-dairy milks.
B Vitamins: B vitamins like folate, biotin, B6 and B12 are involved in many of the body’s processes, and taking these in these vitamins can help boost your energy and ward off feelings of lows, 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 a good time to think about these vitamins.
How to Eat It: Add in whole grains, green leafy greens, nuts eggs and 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 in vitamin D is from the sun, but if you have a winter baby and exposure to those sunrays is limited, opt for foods high in vitamin D or a supplement.
How to Eat it: Focus on fortified dairy, egg yolks, cod and cod liver oil.
Iron: Your iron needs are higher when breastfeeding and menstruating, and, if you’ve lost a significant amount of blood during labor. Whether you are opting to nurse or it is that time of month, make sure your iron levels are in check because low levels 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.
How to Eat it: Up the lentils, liver, shrimp, lamb, beef, fortified whole grains, spinach, molasses and nuts.
Omega 3’s: Healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties that can do wonders for the brain, skin and immune system. So, 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.
How to Eat it: Increase fatty fish (salmon, sardines cod), walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.