Pregnancy and childbirth are perhaps the toughest challenges the female body goes through.  Many of us are guilty of wanting to quickly get back into pre-pregnancy clothes and embark on diets to support this, but, is this approach right?

Nutrition needs for mum after birth are equally or arguably more important than in pregnancy.  Nutrition in the early days post birth may help support the healing process and replenish lost nutrients.  It may help with energy levels and is also important in those wishing to breastfeed (this uses hundreds of calories of energy each day)…..and eating well might even help shift a few pounds naturally!

There are 3 main macro nutrients that we need after birth and these should make up the bulk of our meals.  These are carbohydrate, protein and fat:

  • Complex Carbohydrates are essential for energy. Good sources of carbohydrate rich foods include root vegetables and wholegrains (oats, rice, wholemeal pasta etc). These should make up around 25% of each of your meals
  • Protein is essential for healing and repair and is vital to help your body to produce breast milk. Good sources of protein rich foods include lean meats, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, quinoa and dairy products.  These should also make up around 25% of each of your meals
  • Good Fats are essential to health. They are important in brain health, for hormone regulation and are a vital component in breast milk.  Good sources include oily fish, cold pressed unheated olive oil, avocado and nuts and seeds.  A small amount of these daily is plenty – around 25g of nuts is a portion!

The rest of your diet should be made up from fruits and vegetables.  These provide you with essential quantities of fibre to help keep your digestive system working well and to provide you with all the vitamins and minerals that are needed for the body to work optimally such as iron, magnesium, vitamin C, B vitamins etc.  You are aiming for 5 different coloured vegetables and 2 different fruits every day.

The foods that are best avoided are the processed foods that don’t give us nutrients.  These are foods like crisps, biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets.  They are likely to make you feel more tired.

Drink plenty of water.  Breastfeeding can be dehydrating but even if you aren’t feeding, hydration may help boost energy levels and help the digestive system.

Lastly, don’t under estimate the important of sleep  –  you’ll be tired and sleep deprivation negatively impacts our appetite hormones…go grab a powernap instead of that coffee and cake!

Janet Padfield