Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach Charlotte Lau looks into post-natal dietary requirements
It’s no secret that the food we eat fuels our daily activities and it is especially important when those activities include caring for a newborn or breastfeeding. The time after a mother has given birth is an important phase to be looked after, to recover and to plan the right nutrition and support. It is common, however, for the desire to lose the baby weight to take precedence over nourishing the body with the right foods to support recovery, milk production and rest.
The time after giving birth can be physically and mentally challenging and keeping up with the demands of a new born, feeding, sleep deprivation as well as recovering from the birth can be hard. It’s not a time for reducing calories or cutting food groups to achieve pre-birth weight, instead focus on a healthy, balanced diet which includes lots of fruit and vegetables (aim for 30 different sources a week) as well as protein to support recovery, complex carbohydrates for energy and iron rich foods such as soy beans, lentils, oats, lean meats, spinach, tofu or chickpeas. If you are breastfeeding, then you will need to increase your calories by 500 a day to support milk production and replenish calcium stores. Try to include milk, cheese, yoghurts, tofu, leafy greens and nuts in your diet. Zinc is important for breastfeeding mums and supports the immune system; beef, fish, tofu, nuts and seeds are all good sources. Omega-3s, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, are important for brain development in babies, so make these a priority if you are breastfeeding.
Step away from…
ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE
Increasing your fluid intake after birth, and especially for breastfeeding mothers, is important. Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion and reduced energy so keeping well hydrated is key. The amount of fluid needed varies, but aim for around 10-12 glasses a day. Try to make water the majority of your fluid intake and limit your consumption of alcohol (to a maximum of 14 units a week for women) and caffeine, as these can pass to breast milk and may affect the baby’s digestion, sleep and feeding patterns. Don’t forget that caffeine is also found in chocolate, some fizzy drinks, energy drinks and often cold and flu remedies as well as tea and coffee. The amount of caffeine passed into the breastmilk is about 1% of what the mother consumes and it reaches a peak in the breastmilk about an hour after consumption, so be aware of when you are ingesting caffeine and feed times.
Give it a go…
To help restore pre-pregnancy health, replenish nutrient stores and support lactation after giving birth, it is essential that you take time amongst the chaos to prioritise yourself. Newborns are demanding and without giving yourself the right care and support, looking after your little bundle can be even harder. Try to sleep when you can, (and I say this as a mother of 3), I know this can be difficult! Lean on your support network to plan in times for rest, a shower or to just sit! Ask a friend for meal donations or batch cook and freeze easy, nutritious meals in the lead up to the birth, so you don’t have to think about what is for the next meal and enjoy time with other mothers and their babies… a good chat with someone who understands can do wonders for your mood. When you can, arrange walks with friends in the fresh air and lastly, don’t put any pressure on yourself to achieve to-do lists – most things can wait!
Charlotte runs Plume Nutrition, where she offers support and advice for weight management, controlling cravings, sleeplessness, stress and increasing energy levels. Find out more at plumenutrition.com
<!- /COMP TEST -->
You may also like
Nourish to Flourish – five-a-day
Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach Charlotte Lau asks whether five-a-day is actually enough Fruit and vegetables are part of a healthy, balanced diet and evidence shows there are significant health benefits to consuming the NHS’s recommended five portions of a variety of...
Keep in the know
Sarah Maxwell shares a second instalment of vital menopause info Menopause is a hot topic at the moment and has had a seismic shift in interest, giving us information and essential knowledge that we didn’t have previously. With this in mind,...
Twelve Days Of Fitness
Sarah Maxwell counts down to Christmas Day the healthy way The festive season can be a magical time but often means that good habits are thrown out of the window. However, maintaining your health and fitness levels during this time...