The pregnancy diet is a minefield of do’s and do not’s, but now all that’s behind you. Well, except it isn’t. Welcome to one of many parenthood challenges––postpartum food.

Healthy mama, happy baby––what to eat after giving birth

happy mother-child moment

No matter which way you did it––C-section or vaginal––you’ve been on one heck of a journey and probably have the scars to prove it. You deserve a round of applause. Well done!

But, now that the little wonder is out in the world, you’ve got a lot more on your plate, so best make it a healthy one. Though many of those forbidden pregnancy foods are back on the menu (mmm, soft cheeses and pineapple), new mamas have some extra nutritional requirements to ensure mom and baby stay happy and healthy.

Below we’ll discover the key elements of a postpartum diet and the best food to eat after birth to make sure you and your baby get just what you need.

Postpartum nutrition––what does your body need more off?

Forget “snapping back” into shape a week after delivery, what your body needs right now is a healthy diet to sustain you and ensure you have enough energy to care for that new little person in your life.

So, pull on those stretchy maternity jeans and let your post-pregnancy diet commence in comfort. These are the nutrients that your body needs after your baby hits world-side.

1. Protein

protein foods

Protein is one of the body’s building blocks; it helps grow and repair your system and never is this more important that after birth. Labor is hard work, and it’s likely you’ve lost blood and have some physical wounds to heal. A generous supply of protein in your diet will help you repair and rebuild your system.

This is especially vital if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need protein to keep your body in top shape to sustain your milk supply and ensure you have enough energy for the new addition.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

For the vegans among you, there’s also some great non-animal variants including:

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Soya-based products

2. Calcium

dairy

You may have noticed during pregnancy some bleeding in your gums or other dental problems, this is generally caused by a rise in the body’s hormones, and unfortunately, there’s very little you can do about it, except maintain a healthy diet and a good dental hygiene regime.

But, now that your baby is here, it’s time to start repairing those teeth and bones, and one of the best substances to do that is calcium. For breastfeeding moms, calcium is vital to make sure you don’t rob your own bones of the nutrient while nourishing baby.

Some babies may have a reaction to cow’s milk in mom’s diet, approximately 2% in total. Contact your pediatrician as soon as possible and consider switching to alternative calcium sources in the meantime.

Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products, including:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter

But, you may be surprised to learn that calcium is also plentiful in green leafy vegetables such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

And some soy products; giving you plenty of opportunity to add it to your diet.

3. Iron

zinc mineral

Aside from the considerable blood loss experienced during delivery, pregnancy can lead you to become slightly anemic (deficient in iron), which is why post-pregnancy nutrition requires a healthy dose of it to get you going again.

Iron is an essential mineral for the body; it helps create hemoglobin in red blood cells, transport oxygen to cells and regulate cell development—all key to aiding your recovery.

Most commonly found in meats, but vegetarians need not despair, there are lots of veggie-friendly sources, including:

  • Soya-based products
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Leafy green vegetables

Breastfeeding? What not to eat

For breastfeeding moms, it’s vital that your postpartum meals meet the needs of both you and baby. Aside from needing a little extra of everything, like your pregnancy diet, some foods may just be off the table for now.

Especially in those first few weeks, breastfeeding moms need to keep a check on what they put into their bodies and if your baby has any reactions.

woman feeding her child

Common food allergens such as dairy products, nuts, eggs, tomatoes among others can, in rare cases, cause reactions in the breastfeeding newborn. While this doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether, in fact, many studies suggest the opposite, if your little wonder has a reaction it’s best avoided until you talk to your pediatrician.

Reactions to look out for include:

  • Colic
  • Skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Or even difficulty breathing.

Other best-avoided foods for breastfeeding moms include spicy food as it can make your baby a little gassy, alcohol as it transferred through breast milk (remember: pump and dump!), and excessive amounts of caffeine––that morning coffee is fine, but don’t reach of a second cup, no matter how much you need it.

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