Just like in pregnancy, you need to eat healthily and sensibly. Your diet should be nutrient rich, comprised of quality protein such as poultry, lean red meat, eggs, oily fish, beans, pulses and legumes along with complex carbohydrates like brown rice, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes and other starchy veg. Additionally lots of vegetables and fruit should be eaten to ensure you consume your vitamin and mineral requirements.
Eating regularly will ensure your blood sugar levels remain stable and that you have enough fuel to keep you going throughout the day whilst drinking enough water, roughly 2 litres a day (and more if you are breast feeding), will help you to keep hydrated. The amount of water required varies greatly from person to person but as long as your urine is pale in colour and odourless this shows you to be hydrated.
Superfoods are important post birth as they can help improve recovery from pregnancy, labour and birth. They may also help new mums cope with new stresses that come along with looking after a newborn. Check out my 15 superfoods for new mums:
15 Superfoods for New Mums:
Oats are a completely natural whole grain, high-fibre food. A bowl of porridge will keep you full for a long time after breakfast—and may help increase your milk supply. If you are breastfeeding your energy requirements are now higher than they were at any time during you pregnancy. Your body is working seriously hard to produce all that milk and so you need to provide your body with the energy it needs to do this. Oats are ideal as they have a low GI meaning that you absorb them slowly, giving a steady stream of glucose into your bloodstream and helping to give sustained energy over the morning. Oats are also rich in soluble fibre which contributes to the benefit on blood glucose control, but also plays a role in gut health. Just be sure to buy traditional or steel cut oats rather than instant – the latter have a higher GI and often full of added sugar and salt.
Almonds aren’t just packed with protein; they’re a good non-dairy source of calcium. And the every little bit helps. Breastfeeding mums should take in 1000 mg of calcium per day. That’s because the milk you make is high in calcium, and if you don’t get enough in your diet, your bones and teeth could be robbed of calcium they need (remember you baby has already drawn a lot of calcium out of your body during pregnancy to build her own bones) Almonds are great snacks and can be used in smoothies.
- Apricots & Dates
Apricots contain dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, all essential nutrients. Eating apricots can also increase prolactin—that’s the hormone that tells your body to produce milk. Fresh, whole apricots are a better source of fibre than canned apricots; if you go canned, look for ones packed in water or natural juices, instead of sugary syrup. Dried apricots are also easy to toss in the change bag for an on-the-go snack.
Dates are another calcium-rich food—and they’re thought to help increase milk supply, since they increase prolactin like apricots do. They’re also a high-fibre, naturally sweet treat. Chop some and add them to your morning oatmeal.
Salmon is a fatty fish which has a high amount of fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that helps the development of the baby’s nervous system. Wild-caught or farm-raised salmon are both good for you. If you don’t eat dairy, you can eat canned salmon, which contains tiny salmon bones, to get some extra calcium. For mums, Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids that can help in treating postnatal depression symptoms and. salmon also has vitamin B12, which is essential for a healthy skin.
As mentioned previously, your baby has drawn a lot of calcium from your body during the pregnancy to build her own bones. If you weren’t getting enough from your diet the baby will will have taken that calcium from your own bones. You now want to ensure that you have plenty calcium coming from your diet to halt that bone loss and try to redeposit minerals to keep your bones strong. Natural yoghurt is ideal as it’s calcium rich, but also provides protein and a few probiotic bacteria for gut health to boot. It’s also an easy food to add into your day – add a dollop to smoothies, have with cereal or muesli for breakfast, or have with fresh fruit as a snack. Note: If your baby is diagnosed with milk protein intolerance, do not consume milk or other milk-based products.
Fibre-rich kidney, black, and other beans can be good for your digestive system, and they’re fantastic sources of iron and protein.
Grab a can of haricot beans, rinse and bring to the boil in a small pan with stock and minced garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes and then mash. It’s a great substitute for mashed potato and the addition of garlic makes it extra tasty. Give it a whirl for a quick and easy mid-week dinner
Actually, pretty much any dark green, leafy veggie is a breastfeeding super food. That includes broccoli and Swiss chard. They’re all-around nutrient-dense and even high in calcium. So you can get a veggie serving and a calcium-rich serving in one, delicious, leafy food. Plus, we love how versatile spinach can be. Eat it fresh in a salad, sautee it as a side, add it to smoothies or stir through a casserole, sauce or pasta dish at the last moment before serving.
Below – spinach smoothie mix – spinach protein pancakes and wilted spinach with salmon and scrambled eggs.
- Brown rice
Skip the white stuff. Brown rice is better for you because it’s got more fibre and other nutrients. Complex carbs like brown rice (and oats) help keep you full and keep your blood sugar at consistent levels (no drastic energy dips!). It also helps in increasing breast milk. The fibre in brown rice can help with postnatal constipation as well as keep the mother full and provide consistent energy levels.
Don’t have time to boil a pot of brown rice? Instant and boil-in-bag brown rice have the same nutrition content as the regular kind, but require less effort.
- Lean Red MeatDuring your pregnancy you have an exceptionally high requirement for iron to fulfil both your and your growing baby’s needs. It’s common therefore for new mums to have low iron stores and often mild to moderate iron deficiency, while others may tip into anaemia. Although we get much of our iron from plant foods, it is not as well as absorbed. If you do like and are willing to eat red meat this is therefore a brilliant choice to provide the iron boost your body needs. Beef, for example provides vitamin B12 and proteins that help in the eradication of iron deficiency diseases in mothers, especially due to blood lost during birth. The absence of iron can drain energy which is important in a mother due to the new challenge of taking care of a baby.
New mums need sustained energy over the day and frequent snacks if breast-feeding. Bananas are brilliant to have in your fruit bowl and easy to eat along with a glass of milk (or soy milk for those on dairy free diets) for an easy mid morning or afternoon snack. They are rich in potassium, important for blood pressure control, and if you eat them while still nice and firm you get a nice dose of resistant starch. This is a particular type of fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. The knock-on effect is a boost to your immune function as well as good gut health.
When time is short and you need a quick nutritious meals, eggs are pretty hard to beat. Be sure to eat the whole egg including the yolk – no egg white omelettes! The yolk is where almost all of the nutrition is and you’ll give your body a magic boost of B group vitamins essential to turn the food you eat into energy for use by your body. Eggs don’t need to be just for breakfast, they are terrific for quick lunches and dinners too. Team with a few veggies, perhaps some beans, avocado and wholegrain toast for a wonderfully nutritious meal.
Breastfeeding mothers require vitamin C. Oranges are said to be the one of the best in the provision of vitamin c. Vitamin C intake by breastfeeding mothers reduces the risk of allergic diseases in the infant and also helps in keeping the baby’s brain healthy. It contains foliate that is crucial in the formation of new blood cells as well as tissues. Oranges can be consumed raw or as juices that mothers can take as super juices.
These should be a must eat for all mothers as they are rich in antioxidants which help destroy free radicals, keeping you and baby free from a number of diseases.
Blueberries also contain vitamins and minerals that a nursing mother needs as well as carbohydrates for the energy boost. Eat 2 or more serving per day.
Fennel is another excellent superfood for new mothers as it helps increase lactation and also aids digestion. It can also help prevent colic. One good way to include fennel in your diet is to drink fennel water. To prepare fennel water, boil one or two teaspoons of fennel seeds in four cups of water and then let it simmer for another five minutes before turning off the heat. You can also add one-half teaspoon of sugar or honey for taste. Strain and drink this fennel water throughout the day.
You can also chew one teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals. In addition to increasing lactation and promoting digestion, it will also work as a natural mouth freshener.
Water is essential for you during the pregnancy weeks and also after birth. This is very essential as breastfeeding mothers are at higher risk for energy-draining dehydration.
To keep your energy level and milk production up, make sure you stay well hydrated by drinking water, fruit juices, vegetable juices and coconut water. Stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that can be dehydrating.
During pregnancy mums need to drink 1.8-2.4 litres daily and breastfeeding up to 3 litres.
Water helps reduce fatigue and ensures both mum and baby stay well.