One of the biggest concerns with many new mums postpartum is to “get their body back.” In this article we will talk about that and nutrition during your postpartum recovery.
While “getting your body back” is an understandable goal, too many women lose precious time with their baby by worrying about losing weight. Weight loss goals can always happen later, but you will never have this time with your newborn baby again.
It’s helpful to remember that your body never left you. It was doing this amazing job – building a whole new human. The number of things that had to go RIGHT for that to happen is nothing short of miraculous. So, try to take this time to really nourish yourself as you bond with your baby during your first weeks after the birth.
Pregnancy is quite a task for the female body. You will be drained of necessary nutrients while pregnant. This means, if you weren’t eating adequately during your pregnancy (which can happen for a variety of reasons), you may be nutrient-depleted.
Some research indicates that cellular aging may be accelerated by between 6 months and 2 years in each pregnancy. Prioritizing REST, recovery and building back your nutrient stores is crucial so you can feel like you again.
It’s a lot easier said than done (especially if you have a fussy baby).
If you are breastfeeding your baby, it’s important to eat high quality foods to replenish your own nutrients.
Here are some general postpartum nutrition guidelines – but always consult with your health care provider for custom recommendations:
1. Drink a lot of water.
Think about water like an internal shower for all your organs. A typical recommendation is drinking half your body weight in oz, but during the postpartum period you should increase this even more. And, If you’re breastfeeding, you need even more water to stay fully hydrated. Titrate up slowly over time to get to those optimal levels.
2. Prioritize protein.
Equally important is your protein intake. Somewhere between 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of goal body weight is a good target range. (So, if you weigh 170 pounds and your goal is 150, you should be consuming 120–150 grams of protein each day). Keeping your protein levels high is one of the best ways to recover after birth.
3. Food quality matters.
Stick to whole foods; whole fruits and veggies, complex carbs like legumes and whole grains, and healthy fats like avocados and coconut oil. Limit your intake of processed foods.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have treats! Just make sure the majority (about 80 percent) of your intake is nutrient dense.
4. Breastfeeding may require an extra 200 – 500 calories.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding (8-12 nursing sessions in a 24-hour period), you may need to add additional calories because it takes some serious energy to make all that milk. This will depend on how much your baby eats, and how active you are and how many calories you already consume on average. You can learn more about this topic here. These are some healthy foods to consider eating while you are breastfeeding: oatmeal, spinach, nuts, kale, garlic, fennel, brown rice, and flax seeds.
5. Be patient with the process.
Every woman’s body and every pregnancy is different. Some bodies want to hang onto extra weight during this early postpartum period and while breastfeeding – as insurance to feed that baby!
If you can take the focus away from the outcome (of fitting back into your pre-baby jeans or whatever the goal is) and instead focus on your habits, how you feel about yourself, and the JOY and miracle of life that you’ve created, it will make this a much more enjoyable process.
As your body recovers from the hard work it has done to bring your beautiful baby into this world, don’t forget that postpartum nutrition is an important part of the healing process. You need to be nourished just as much as that new baby!
By: Michelle Stiff, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, Pre and Postpartum Fitness Specialist, Wellness Elevate for Women
Check out this article for some nutritious postpartum recipes: Five Healthy Recipes for Nursing Parents