Post baby nutrition is an interesting challenge for a new mom. Your requirements in the first few months post-partum are very similar to pregnancy needs, except now you are busy with a new baby, sleepless nights and no longer a growing bump to explain your hunger.
If you are breastfeeding, your caloric needs stay about the same as when you were pregnant – an extra 300-400 calories per day, or the equivalent of 2-3 snacks. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, you want to make your meals and snacks count. In order to maximize your energy, look for nutrient-dense foods to give you a good vitamin and mineral boost to keep you going.
Choose daily servings of protein (fish, meat, beans, nuts) and carbohydrates (whole grains, root vegetables, fruit), as well as good fats from nuts, seeds, fish and healthy oils like olive oil, and flax seed oil. Continue to consume plenty of vegetables, which are packed with minerals and vitamins.
Eating whole foods will help you feel more satisfied since they contains the vitamins, minerals, balanced carbohydrates, good fats and protein that your body is craving. Whole foods also contain fibre, which is filling. Speaking of fibre...post-natal constipation is common, especially if you have had anaesthesia. Drink lots of water and herbal tea and things should be back to normal by day seven or so.
Eating several small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large meals, can help ensure that you are getting the nutrients that you need, without putting pressure on you to have perfect meals. Whole food snacks that include protein, carbohydrates and good fats will suffice. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Beyond foods, a daily multi-vitamin can help ensure you are getting all you need, so continue taking your prenatal multi-vitamin for a few months after baby is born. And staying hydrated can help ensure that energy levels are high.
Please don't start counting calories too soon. Your body has gone through quite a feat and it requires vitamins and minerals (as well as calories) to recover from pregnancy, labour and delivery. Give yourself time to recover. A general guideline is to wait until after your post-partum 6 week check-up before even considering weight loss. Nursing moms are encouraged to wait at least 2 full months. Restricting foods too soon after giving birth can delay your much needed recovery and leave you feeling tired -- at a time in your life when you need to find energy.
Your nutrition needs are not complicated, but given the time a new baby takes, a little planning and a good support system make a difference. If your partner, parents or friends offer to shop, plan meals or cook for you, go ahead and accept the offers! Having good nutrient-packed food to snack on throughout the day will keep you feeling your best.