Take a deep breath… you’ve just brought a new baby into the world! As your newborn is entering the first stages of her life, you’re starting a brand new one as well. Whether you’re breastfeeding or using formula, a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of your healing after childbirth. And let’s not forget, you’re going to need plenty of energy to keep up with your little one throughout the day (and night!). Here are a few tips and strategies to keep in mind as your body transitions into this new chapter.
Delay the Diet. You may be anxious to start shedding those pregnancy pounds but remember that your body is still going through a significant change. Extreme diets and rapid weight loss are hazardous to your health, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. The combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise is the best path to health and recovery. Remember that the post-partum period lasts several months, so take your time when trying to return to your pre-baby figure.
Calories Count. Even though you’re no longer eating for two, your body needs even more energy now than when you were pregnant. Adjusting to life with your new bundle of joy can be exhausting, and adding food (and calories) will help fuel your days and nights. Breastfeeding moms should plan for several hundred extra calories everyday. Make the most out of these additional calories by keeping them nutritious. Think lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Smaller Meals, Higher Frequency. Try eating four to five smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. These “mini-meals” will help maintain a consistent energy level when eaten at regular intervals. Choose foods that are high in nutrients including protein, calcium and complex carbs. Also, look for foods high in vitamin B3 (also called niacin), which plays an important role in metabolism. Salmon, tuna and poultry are all rich in vitamin B3.
Mega Omega. Omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, have received plenty of attention in recent years, and for good reason. These essential fatty acids are the building blocks of the central nervous system, including the brain, making it ideal for breastfeeding moms. Try adding salmon and walnuts to your new mommy diet – both are considered excellent sources.
Drink Up. Dehydration can magnify your fatigue and sleepiness, so be sure to keep a water bottle on hand at all times – around the house, in the car, and in the diaper bag. Breastfeeding moms will especially notice thirstiness while nursing, so keep healthy fluids like water and juice readily available to ensure your milk supply isn’t depleted.
Being a new mom involves so many changes that it’s easy to forget your own nutritional needs. But remember, your body needs just as much attention now, even after pregnancy. Discuss your individual dietary needs with your doctor to make sure you’re fueling your body – and your baby – with a balanced diet.