I thought long and hard about what to put in this blog... what do we as new mums really want to read about? For some, it is as simple as what we should be eating and what we shouldn't (if anything), and weight issues.
I have done some training in nutrition while doing my fitness qualifications but by no means would I call myself or my knowledge comprehensive on postpartum dietary requirements. My usual advice is along the lines of 'if you are hungry eat and eat well!'
I spoke on this matter to a lovely friend from years gone by, Sophie. Sophie is a dietician who currently works in eating disorders but has a wealth of knowledge of in all areas of food. She's also a Mum to a lovely 4 year old boy!
We chatted for a while and both agreed that the most important thing postpartum is to get enough energy. If you are breastfeeding then this helps make sure you produce enough milk. If there isn't enough energy (calories) then the baby will just take what it needs from you but in turn that can make it harder to recover from the pregnancy.
It takes on average 2 years after birth for your nutritional state to get back to pre pregnancy levels so having depleted energy sources makes this process harder. There are loads of different guides about how many calories to have while breastfeeding but ideally 300-500kcals more than usual is fine and is best from all the food groups.
Make sure that you don't cut back on fats (like cooking oil, cheese, oily fish, etc) and also get plenty of calcium so milky drinks are good or calcium fortified non dairy milk is good if you don't want dairy.
Make sure you try and have a couple of meals a week either with lean red meat, beans, lentils or fortified breakfast cereals too. That can help make sure you get enough Iron as it's not unusual for women to become anaemic if they've had a high blood loss. Anaemia can be commonly mistaken for tiredness but if you're feeling particularly tired, have paler skin than is usual for you, weakness or dizziness you should always get it checked out.
This is not an ideal time for weight loss because the body is already trying to repair itself but everyone is different and some people will naturally lose more weight after having a baby.
There is so much in the media about what we should and shouldn't do, or how our bodies should react but everyone is different and our bodies will recover in their own time.
Eating regularly and having enough food can be the biggest challenge especially if breastfeeding and trying to look after a baby (even more so if you already have other children). Making food ahead of time is ideal, bulk cooking, using ready meals if necessary or frozen foods.
Sophie says "I'd always tell people to be kind to themselves rather than worrying about things not being "perfect"."
Babies are really good at getting the nutrition they need and having a healthy happy Mum is just as important. If that means using formula instead of breastfeeding or having a stash of ready meals to use if needed then, then that is fine.
Thank You Sophie for taking the time to speak to me and sharing your thoughts on postpartum nutrition!
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