HOW TO EAT WELL POST BIRTH
FEEL GOOD FROM THE INSIDE OUT BY RACHEL GOODMAN, RD, CDN
Rachel Goodman is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She holds a degree in Health & Nutrition Sciences. With clinical experience in hospitals, long term care, and one-on-one nutrition coaching, Rachel uses her knowledge and skills, together with her whole-person approach, to help clients reach their health goals.
As a mom of 2 energetic girls she understands the challenges of staying healthy while juggling a busy life. Rachel believes health begins with good nutrition and is imperative for staying focused, balanced, and happy. Rachel's private practice focuses on Diabetes, Emotional & Intuitive Eating, and Heart Health.
She resides in Brooklyn, NY and is available for sessions at her Brooklyn, NY office as well as virtual & phone sessions for your convenience.
Having a child is a life changing event that takes time to adjust to. Not just the technicalities of changing diapers and giving baths. But it also takes time for your body to adjust and recover. It’s important to nourish your body to feel good from the inside out in order for you to be the best version of yourself and have the energy you need to care for your child.
Below you will find recommendations and simple steps for eating healthy and feeling great. If you feel pressured to quickly lose the baby weight, put that thought
on the back burner. Fast weight loss takes a negative toll on your body that is working hard to recover. Restricting the amount of food you eat may keep you from getting the adequate nutrition you need to rebuild strength, especially if you are nursing and want a good milk supply. It took you 9 months to grow a human being so give yourself the courtesy of at least that much time for your body to get back to itself. Be kind to yourself. Right now, focus on eating wholesome foods and creating healthy habits. By focusing on nourishing your body, your weight will naturally return to it’s previous state.
Your meals should include all food groups. Each food group contains different nutritional value and together they provide you with all the nutrients you need.
Follow these simple guidelines to easily build balanced meals:
Fill 1/4 of your plate with high fiber starches.
These include whole grains or legumes (about 1/3 cup) such as oats, quinoa, whole grain toast, beans, farro, and brown rice.
Your body easily converts complex carbohydrates (starch) into energy and it is your brain’s
preferred fuel source which is why carbs are important for keeping you focused.
Make sure you choose whole grains which are packed with fiber. Fiber will help you stay fuller
for longer and will keep your blood sugar stable which will help prevent mood swings. Fiber will
also help prevent constipation and promote a healthy gut which is key to overall health.
Carbohydrates are also rich in B-vitamins which are important for optimal metabolic function and energy.
If you are nursing, these vitamins will cross over into your milk supply and provide your fast growing baby the vitamins it needs to develop.
Fill 1/4 of your plate with protein (about 3-4 oz or the size of your palm) such as salmon, chicken, extra lean beef, turkey, eggs, and cheese.
Plant-based sources include (about 1/2 cup): soybeans, tempeh, peas, beans, nuts and seeds.
Protein is needed for the production of enzymes, hormones, muscles, skin, antibodies, and
Nursing moms especially need to eat enough protein as they require more protein per day than
non-nursing moms. Protein makes up a lot of your breast milk and your baby needs it for proper growth and development.
Focusing on including protein as part of every meal and snack will help you meet both your’s and your baby’s protein needs.
Aim to make fish your protein serving 2 times a week. Fish, such as salmon, are a great source
of omega-3 and DHA. These are fats which helps reduce inflammation and are important for
your baby’s developing brain if you are nursing.
Fill 1/2 your plate with vegetables.
Vegetables are a nutrient-dense powerhouse. They are full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, such as iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, C, and more.
There is no one vegetable that has it all so make sure to keep it varied. Focus on having as many different colored vegetables as possible. Different colors means more nutrients.
Some examples include tomatoes, carrots, leafy greens, peppers, celery, and beets.
Incorporate healthy, unsaturated fats into your meal such as olive oil, avocado, chia seeds, flaxseed, and nuts in your yogurt, salad, and on toast.
Unsaturated fats found in whole foods can help you burn body fat, improve your metabolism, and reduce inflammation. They are needed to produce hormones, for brain development, nutrient absorption, and to help keep you satisfied.
If you are nursing, fats are especially important for your baby’s brain development. Specifically Omega-3s found in walnuts, salmon, and chia seeds.
Additional Considerations for moms postpartum
Aim for 2-3 snacks a day for extra energy and nutrient intake. Make sure they include some fiber and protein and/or fat. For example: apple with peanut butter, string cheese with 1 cup edamame beans, 1 slice of toast with avocado.
Breastfeeding moms require 500 calories more per day. Include
extra snacks such as nuts and dried/fresh fruit, avocado on toast, string cheese, or kind bars to help you increase caloric intake while making your choices nutrient dense.
Make sure to drink enough. Aim for 8 to 10 cups of water per day. This will help prevent constipation (which is common in the postpartum period) and keep you energized throughout the day. If you are nursing you may need closer to 12 cups.
Some women may have excessive blood loss while having a vaginal birth. Make sure to have iron-rich foods such as extra lean meat, broccoli, liver, spinach, and legumes to build up your iron stores.
If you are nursing, it is important to consume adequate calcium from your diet. If you do not have enough calcium for both yourself and your baby then your body will deplete calcium stores from your bones in order to provide enough for your baby through
your milk supply. Aim for 3 servings of calcium rich foods such as
8 oz of yogurt, 1⁄2 cup ricotta cheese, and 2 ounces hard cheese.
If you suspect that you aren’t meeting your nutritional needs from your diet for whatever reason, make sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamins.