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Postpartum Diet Plan: Healthy Foods for Eating After Giving Birth

Postpartum nutrition is all about recovery, healing, and helping you cope with the aftereffects of birth. Bringing down inflammation and preventing infection around the birth area is an obvious priority, but pain relief, ease of bowel movements, and milk flow can also be helped by dietary factors. Good-quality, sustaining foods help support energy and mood, and provide you with vital antidepressant nutrients, such as zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium.

If breastfeeding, this is doubly important, because your recovery and health can be affected as you provide your baby with the nutrients it needs to thrive and grow. Milk production can require as much as 500 extra calories a day in energy, and that needs to come from nutrient-dense food.

Many women go for the strategy of weight loss y reducing carbohydrates in their diet in the postnatal period. But carbohydrates are very necessary for newly given birth women. Diet is not just important for breast milk production but also for mental health, hormone regulations, and many more physical needs.

In this article, we are going to discuss foods and a diet plan that will balance your calories need for the physical and mental demands of caring for your baby.

Postpartum Diet Guidelines

1. Take a Wide variety of Foods to Fulfill Nutrients Needs

Focus on healthy sources of nutrients during the postpartum period. Some basic nutrients:

  • Protein
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fiber-Rich Carbs
  • Nuts and Seeds

We will also discuss healthy sources of these nutrients in detail in this article. Your diet plan should be according to your health conditions. For health conditions like Diabetes, your diet should follow a pattern in order to optimize blood sugar control. For more information, visit the USDA Choosemyplate website.

2. Stay Hydrated

Health specialists recommend staying hydrated if the mother feeds his breast milk to the baby. Moms should drink a minimum of three liters of water daily. Moms should hydrate themselves according to their urine color. If the urine color is pale yellow, it’s a sign of proper hydration. But the dark yellow color urine indicated dehydration, and you should drink more water to overcome dehydration.

3. Take an appropriate amount of calories

Evey women want to lose weight after giving birth. But it is very important to take an appropriate amount of calories to keep up your energy level and milk supply. According to diet planners and CDC(Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), a breastfeeding mother should take calories approximately 2300-2500 calories per day as compared to non-breastfeeding women who consume 1800-2000 calories a day.

Ideally, 1 pound per week or 4 pound per month weight loss strategy is ideal. Abrupt weight loss should be alarming for your health and every breastfeeding mother shouldn’t practice this plan.

4. Parental Vitamins

A breastfeeding mother should take postpartum vitamins to overcome the needs of vitamins in the body. If non-breastfeeding women want to enhance their healthy by taking supplement vitamins, consult the doctor before taking vitamins.

5. Limit Alcohol Consumption while Breastfeeding

Alcohol consumption is not a good practice for breastfeeding moms. Every mom should try to limit the consumption of alcohol while breastfeeding days. If necessary to take alcohol, take a 3-4 hours break after alcohol consumption to feed breastmilk to your baby.

Postpartum Diet and Hormones

To recalibrate hormones postpartum, there are several ways. It is important to keep in mind that it should not expect it to happen in a day or two. It does take time. Doctors explain that usually estrogen dominance in comparison to progesterone. It takes almost a year to have a baby. So it should take some time for your body to find its new normal. In weight loss, the estrogen hormone plays a very crucial role. Estrogen is the main cause of weight gain if it is in excess amount in the body.

Due to not proper sleep, an excessive amount of cortisol, commonly known as Stress hormone is produced. In the postpartum period, hormone timeline varies in every woman due to sleep patterns, stress, or diet. Doctors further explain that, due to these changes, hormones influence our food choice: ghrelin, our “Hunger” hormone, and leptin: the “I am satisfied hormone”.

A healthy diet planner recommends the following:

  • In postpartum duration, moms should take proteins from different sources with moderate carbohydrate consumption. It helps to prevent elevated blood sugar abruptly. Due to this, it prevents your pancreas from being overwhelmed to produce insulin.
  • Should eat less processed foods and focus on foods that are rich in proteins fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
  • Should take parental vitamins for up to one year. It helps to support hormone and mineral level balance.
  • Must consume some time in healthy activities like exercise, walking, yoga swimming, etc.

Postpartum Diet and Mental Health

A key macronutrient named carbohydrates during the postpartum period is very necessary because carbs increase serotonin secretion. Serotonin is a chemical substance and acts as a messenger in a body, commonly known as a neurotransmitter. It helps to maintain mental health. You can also eat food that is high in tryptophan if you can’t eat foods containing serotonin. Tryptophan converts into serotonin if carbohydrates are present to do this work.

On contrary to serotonin spectrum is protein. Protein decreases serotonin secretion. That’s the reason, it is very necessary to take balance moderate carbohydrates with protein. Certain foods that contain a balance of carbohydrates and proteins, every mom should know. We will also discuss foods that every mom should eat in the postpartum period.

Best Foods to Eat in the Postpartum Period

1. Fennel

Fennel contains phytoestrogens, which means that it supports the hormones that maintain a healthy milk supply. Foods that can do this are called galactogogues. Foods that are high in phytoestrogens, such as soy, are not recommended after birth, but the levels in fennel provide gentle and balanced support without overloading the baby’s delicate hormones. The antioxidants in fennel also help prevent infections, making this an excellent recovery food.

The vitamin C content, along with the bioflavonoids rutin and quercetin, work hard to keep the blood vessels intact, helping to calm post-birth bleeding, encourages wound healing, and prevent
hemorrhoids. These nutrients are also anti-inflammatory, so they help to relieve swelling and discomfort, while vitamin C in combination with the sulfur in the fennel produces collagen, promoting the healing of all the body’s tissues.

Fennel has been used traditionally to treat digestive complaints, such as gas and bloating, to help shed excess fluid, and to regulate blood pressure, all of which may be problems after birth.
A galactagogue food, traditionally used to bring on milk supply.

  • Antioxidants vitamin C, quercetin, and rutin help prevent infections, reduce inflammation, and support healing.
  • Vitamin C and sulfur help healing through collagen generation.
  • Supports digestion, fluid, and blood pressure regulation post-birth.

Practical tips:

Sliced raw fennel adds a pleasing, fresh anise taste to salads. It can also be braised and served as a side dish, added to soups, or included in juices to boost its cleansing power.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts supply some of the extra energy a mother needs to look after a new baby, while also encouraging healing and recovery after birth. The mixture of beneficial oils, good quality protein, and complex carbohydrates in walnuts help to keep up the energy, mood, and milk supply at this time. The effectiveness is accentuated by the B-vitamin, zinc, magnesium, and manganese content. A lot of protein is supplied to the baby in breast milk, so a mother’s healing can be reduced if her dietary intake is low.

Walnuts are a natural mood food because they are instrumental in producing the “happy” brain chemical serotonin. The hormone melatonin, present in walnuts, helps us fall asleep easily and sleep well when we do—when your sleep is being broken on a nightly basis, quality is essential.

  • Contain balanced carbohydrates, protein, and fats, supplying sustained energy for milk supply and a demanding schedule.
  • The B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and manganese allow for the best possible energy to be obtained from all the foods you eat.
  • Protein and nutrients encourage serotonin production, helping to combat any postnatal depression.
  • The hormone melatonin enables a new mother to snatch the best-quality sleep when she can.

Practical tips:

Snack on raw, unsalted walnuts when breast-feeding or looking after the baby to promote good blood sugar balance and to avoid energy lows. This will also help to keep calorie intake regular, ensuring a consistent milk supply.

3. Bananas

Bananas provide good levels of potassium, the mineral needed for fluid balance, and to enable the muscle contractions that shrink the uterus back to normal size. A breastfed baby will take large
amounts of its mother’s potassium for its developing nervous system and muscles. A mother who is left deficient may have headaches, fatigue, or muscle cramps.

Bananas also deliver a healthy dose of vitamin C, which along with tryptophan and vitamin B6, helps to lift mood, promote sleep, and combat postnatal depression. These nutrients also encourage regular and easy bowel movements at a time when hemorrhoids are common. As well as softening stools, the fiber inulin in bananas helps keep the body’s beneficial probiotic bacteria at healthy levels. This is vital for immune health during recovery, and for keeping infection at bay.

  • High potassium content supplies a mother’s needs and is also required in breast milk for the baby’s brain and muscle function.
  • Vitamins C and B6 and tryptophan help produce serotonin for good mood and sleep.
  • Support healthy bowel movements to help prevent hemorrhoids.
  • Contain the fiber inulin, which promotes healthy digestive bacteria for immune health and the prevention of infection.

Practical tips:

Bananas with raw nuts are the perfect snack because the added protein slows down the sugar release of the bananas. Bananas that are less ripe release their sugars into the bloodstream more slowly, supplying a more controlled form of energy.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes help strengthen immunity. Including them in the diet when breastfeeding results in more disease attacking antibodies being passed to the baby. Sweet potatoes provide calcium in balance with magnesium, enabling these two minerals to work at their most efficient in our bones and nervous system. We often receive these minerals in unbalanced amounts; dairy foods, for example, are high in calcium but relatively low in magnesium.

While breastfeeding, the body’s mineral levels need to be as high as during pregnancy, because the baby will take calcium in breast milk for use in bone development. If you have known problems with bone or tooth density, it is especially important to keep up your calcium levels. Even a nonbreast-feeding mother may have lost calcium bone stores while pregnant. Sweet potatoes are also an
excellent source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which will help rid the body of harmful toxins.

  • The vitamin C content also helps provide collagen, which contributes to bone mass.
  • Provides calcium in balance with magnesium for the most effective support to bone growth.
  • Calcium is needed in breast milk for the baby’s bone growth; if it doesn’t come from the diet, it is taken from the mother’s bones.
  • Vitamin C helps generate collagen, which supports the bone structure.

Practical tips:

Use in the same way as white potatoes or any root vegetable. Eat sweet potatoes with a little oil, such as olive oil or butter, because this will enable your body to absorb their fat-soluble nutrients.

5. Apricots

Apricots help maintain bowel regularity. Pectin, the fiber in apricots, helps soften stools and remove toxins that may enter breast milk from the body. After childbirth, bowel movements are not always easy and the problem can be exacerbated by dehydration. It is particularly important to obtain plenty of water from vegetables and fruits, such as apricots because their natural sugars will help to draw water into the body cells.

The beta-carotene content in apricots is converted to vitamin A by the body, which heals and strengthens skin that has been torn, cut, or stretched. It is also needed in breast milk for the baby’s immune system and the development of his or her sight, taste, and hearing. Vitamin A, along with the vitamin C content of apricots, is needed to utilize iron to take oxygen to tissues that require healing and to replace any blood lost during childbirth.

  • Help ease bowel movements, and, therefore, eliminate toxins, through good hydration and the fiber pectin.
  • Vitamin A helps heal skin after pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Vitamin A content in breast milk supports the baby’s immunity and sensory abilities.
  • Vitamins A and C enable iron to oxygenate the blood for healing and to replace any blood loss.

Practical tips:

Make into a puree by blending with boiling water. Keep in the refrigerator for a few days as a healthy sweetener for oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal. Add cinnamon to enable the slow-release sugars to work even more effectively.

6. Lentils

Hearty foods, such as lentils, help a new mother to lose her pregnancy weight safely. They provide constant energy at a time when restricting food is ill-advised. When recovering from birth, and while breast-feeding, prioritizing the high energy needs of these processes is more important than worrying about losing the weight gained during pregnancy.

The B vitamins, zinc, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein in lentils help their energy to be released extremely efficiently, resulting in a steady blood sugar balance. The zinc content of lentils also supports wound healing and immunity. If breastfeeding, the iron, and folate (folic acid) will help to keep the baby’s blood circulating.

  • The magnesium and folate in lentils are also needed for brain and nerve function.
  • The dense nutritional package that supports sustained energy for healing, recuperation, and breast milk production.
  • A consistent supply of slow-release energy prevents cravings for sugary foods with low nutrient content.
  • Contain zinc for immune system support and healing.
  • Contain iron and folate for the baby’s blood.
  • Contain magnesium and folate for the development of the baby’s nervous system.

Practical tips:

A breastfeeding mother who tends to have gas after eating lentils may find this affects the baby, too. Lentils can be more easily digested if soaked overnight. Throw away the soaking water with its problematic starches before cooking.

7. Spinach

The dark green color of spinach demonstrates its high levels of protective carotenoid antioxidants, including vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The carotenoids that protect the plant as it photosynthesizes, or draws energy from sunlight, also protect the fatty areas of our bodies. After birth, this means the healing of damaged skin and tissues, helping bring down inflammation and creating new tissues as the womb and abdominal skin return to normal.

Breast milk contains carotenoids at higher levels in the first few days of production. The reason for this is not completely understood, but it is believed to help a newborn’s transition from the womb to the harsher outside world. Lutein remains high for the longest, possibly to protect the baby’s vulnerable eyes from exposure to light. The folate (folic acid) in spinach also supports the growth of both mother’s and breastfed baby’s new tissues.

  • The vitamin K enables bone growth and, because the baby cannot make this, he or she has to rely on its presence in milk.
  • Antioxidant carotenoids help heal post-birth damage.
  • Supplies carotenoids for breast milk, protecting a new baby against light exposure.
  • Folate supports healing and repair.
  • Vitamin K is passed to the baby for steady bone development.

Practical tips:

Eating plenty of green leafy vegetables is one of the foundations of health. Vitamin C and folate are easily damaged by cooking, so lightly steaming is a more nutritious solution than boiling the leaves.

8. Plums

Along with berries and apples, plums rank in the top twenty foods on the ORAC table. These superfoods have the very best postnatal immune and healing potential. The ORAC (oxygen radical
absorption capacity) scale measures the antioxidant capacity of plants and identifies the foods we need to consume regularly in order to neutralize free radicals and help prevent diseases. After birth, when the body cannot afford to waste its energy on dealing with infections, these needs are at their highest.

Eating plums, and other chart-topping ORAC foods will help reduce the impact of milk production and the body’s necessary healing work. Supporting your immune function in this way will also make the need for antibiotics less likely, which, if you’re breastfeeding, can lead to oral thrush for your baby. Plums contain high levels of the potent antioxidant chlorogenic acid and also the soluble fiber pectin, which helps to keep the bowels healthy and toxins removed from the digestive tract.

  • A high antioxidant profile helps prevent inflammation and infection, helping the body to use its energy for healing and producing milk.
  • Help lower the likelihood of antibiotic use by supporting immunity.
  • The fiber pectin eases bowel movements and prevents the absorption of toxins.

Practical tips:

Like apples and rhubarb, plums can be stewed to make a naturally gentle laxative. The result is delicious added to muesli, oatmeal, or yogurt and will keep things moving without discomfort.

9. Watermellon

Watermelon is high in the carotenoid lycopene, which gives it its red color. This protective nutrient is passed to the baby in breast milk. Eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables ensures that the full spectrum of antioxidants is made available to both mothers and breastfed babies, lowering the risk of infectious disease and inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, eczema, and mastitis. The lycopene in watermelon specifically protects fatty areas of the body, including the brain, heart, and liver.

L-citrulline, an amino acid in the fruit, is converted by the body to L-arginine and helps reduce high blood pressure. This action is heightened by the potassium content of watermelon, which encourages levels to normalize in the stressful period after pregnancy. The potassium and slow-release natural sugars help take watermelon’s high water content into our cells for hydration. This is a crucial health concern during postpregnancy because so much fluid is lost in birth, and especially so while breast-feeding, when the body has to produce at least an extra pint of fluid a day.

  • Antioxidant carotenoid provides protection to fatty areas of the brain, heart, and liver post-birth; a breast-fed baby also benefits.
  • L-citrulline and potassium help normalize high blood pressure.
  • High water content, potassium, and natural sugars help hydration.

Practical tips:

Cut or juice watermelon immediately before eating to retain its vitamin C content. The antioxidant carotenoids are better absorbed with some oil present—add to a salad with an olive oil dressing, or enjoy after a meal.

10. Cranberries

After pregnancy, the kidneys and bladder can be susceptible to infection. Cranberries can help prevent these conditions, or soothe them if they have taken hold. During the six weeks after birth, the kidneys have to work especially hard to help the body lose all the excess fluid it has been holding onto. The bladder is also recovering from being squashed by an expanding womb. These states can increase the risk of infections, including cystitis, which affects about 12 percent of women after childbirth.

Cranberries contain hippuric acid and antioxidant proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), although they will not necessarily cure them once established. Anyone who is prone to cystitis should drink a preventive glass of cranberry juice a day to ward off infection. Cranberries rank as one of the top foods on the ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) antioxidant index.
For this reason, they can help to heal the bladder and urinary tract tissues that may have been damaged during pregnancy and birth.

  • Help prevent cystitis and bladder infections in women who are susceptible or had a catheter fitted after childbirth.
  • High antioxidant capacity promotes the healing of tissues that are inflamed or damaged after pregnancy and labor.

Practical tips:

Cranberries are bitter, so the juice drink is usually sweetened with sugar. For a healthier alternative, buy unsweetened cranberry juice from health food stores and mix it with apple juice. One or two glasses a day should have the desired preventive effect.

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