We often hear about prenatal nutrition and the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients to support mom and baby’s health, but we don’t talk about the nutritional needs during postpartum. The postpartum period is considered to be 6-8 months after delivery but some don’t return to their pre-pregnancy state for up to 12 months after the baby and placenta are delivered.
Postpartum nutrients are so vital for the healing and recovery process post birth for mom. If a mother is breastfeeding or pumping, her dietary needs will be increased due to more calories being burned to fuel milk making. Breastfeeding and/or pumping moms will also deliver those much-needed nutrients in breast milk for a thriving and growing baby.
Nutrients For the Postpartum Period
Some important nutrients to increase after birth and while you breastfeed include protein, iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, choline and fluids. Protein is needed for the recovery, growth and repair of our body during the postpartum period.
Iron and folic acid help to promote the replacement of blood cells that are lost during childbirth. Folic acid makes new red blood cells while iron is used to carry oxygen to tissues. Low intake of either can lead to anemia and fatigue.
Calcium helps to keep our bones and teeth strong and to reduce bone loss which can lead to osteoporosis. Vitamin D supports healthy bone development and the absorption of calcium. Research shows that you may lose 3-5% of your bone mass when you nurse due to losing calcium in breast milk which is why it is so important you eat plenty of foods with calcium and vitamin D. Choline is also needed in higher amounts, especially in breastfeeding women to help support baby’s brain development.
Fluid Needs During Postpartum
An increase in fluid intake, 3 liters during pregnancy to 3.8 liters during lactation, is suggested to eliminate constipation, reduce water retention after delivery, and to carry nutrients throughout the body and to the baby.
With a newborn, it is almost impossible to create meals and snacks on a whim. During pregnancy, in either the second or third trimester, it is a good idea to think ahead and create meals and snacks to freeze for those sleepless nights when your baby arrives!
Tip: Make a list of recipes you want to prepare in advance or use the recipes included below! We recommend doubling the batch and storing it in the freezer.
Time to stock up on tupperware and have a pen handy to label meals with the name and date it was frozen. Below you will find 7 foods to include in your postpartum snack routine to help you recover and feel your best.
Oats are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. They are recommended postpartum for its rich carbohydrate, fiber, protein, and iron content. Oats are also rich in phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, and zinc. Lactation consultants recommend oats to modify your breast milk composition to promote infant health as well as to boost your milk supply. In addition to their nutritional value, oats are versatile and easy to prepare! You could also explore ready to eat oats in granola in this gift box.
With a newborn in tow, time is of the essence. The next time you need to grab a quick bite, try these honey oatmeal protein balls! They are easy to make ahead of time and easy to freeze.
Fresh is always best, but when it’s not available, freezer-dried fruit is just as good because it retains vitamin C. Vitamin C is usually associated with boosting our immune system but it doubles as an enhancer in our iron absorption. Vitamin C captures iron found in plant and animal foods, and stores it in a form more easily absorbed by the body. Fruits high in vitamin C are citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries.
Fruits are also a natural laxative and aid in digestion which is super helpful for mom’s first few bowel movements and helps to relieve postpartum constipation. Some of the more notable fruits for their laxative properties are bananas, raspberries, guava, figs, and prunes.
Fruit smoothies are one of my favorite ways to pack in a bunch of vitamins and minerals in a tasty treat. You can even make batches ahead of time and freeze them in plastic bags. When ready, put the plastic bag in a bowl of warm water and your frozen fruit smoothie will defrost into a nutritious meal or snack! Check out this recipe!
- Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a delicious spread filled with everything you need postpartum. It not only contains plant based protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates but it is rich in vitamins and minerals such as niacin, magnesium, and folic acid. Niacin is beneficial to our digestive system, skin, and nerve functioning. Early studies have found that niacin may also prevent postpartum depression. Magnesium has been shown to reduce anxiety and postpartum depression as well as relieve muscle tension and improve sleep. Folic acid reduces the risk of anemia and renews our body.
Peanut butter is not only a great postpartum snack but recent data has shown that exposing the baby to peanut butter through breast milk decreases the risk of the child developing allergies. My favorite peanut butter can be found in this bundle.
With only 5 ingredients, you can make this quick and easy peanut butter granola bar to take with you on the road for any newborn doctor appointments or long drives if you like to use the car as a way to soothe the baby.
- Assorted Nuts
Assorted nuts serve as one of the best postpartum snacks due to their nutrition content and easy accessibility for new moms. Filled with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, it’s no wonder assorted nuts are included in the Postpartum Gift Box. Healthy fats are important for both mom and baby. For new moms, healthy fats reduce inflammation, promote mood, alleviate depression and anxiety as well as help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. Healthy fats are needed to nourish our bones and boost our immunity, which are much needed after having a baby. These healthy fats, which are high in omega 3s are important because they pass through breast milk and support the baby’s brain and eye development and nervous system. Next time you need something fast, grab a handful of unsalted assorted nuts.
For a nutrient dense mixture that can last up to a month in proper storage, this muesli is a great topping, snack, or cereal to grab when you only have a few minutes to spare!
It shouldn’t be a surprise that fish is on the list as it’s considered the best animal protein to consume! Fish, especially salmon, is rich in protein, vitamin B12, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids are thought to help prevent postpartum depression. Pregnancy and breastfeeding depletes the body of omega 3s so it is important we replenish it in our diets, to avoid any malnourishment. Fish is a great source of natural vitamin D which we want enough of in our diet because we can’t accurately measure how much vitamin D passes through the breast milk to the baby. Vitamin D is essential for babies to prevent rickets, a softening and weakening of bones. Another way for a baby to get vitamin D is from sun exposure, but to avoid sun damage, a baby’s sensitive skin should seek shade instead of sunscreen or direct sun beams. The protein content in fish helps in wound healing and is essential for the brain, eyes, and heart. Fish has also been found to prevent cancer and to fight inflammation. Some of the best fish to consume are salmon, skipjack, sea bass, and halibut.
If you don’t like the taste of fish, these salmon cakes mask the fishy flavor yet give you all the nutrients!
- Flax Meal
Flax meal might look like a small addition to your postpartum snack but it is jammed packed with a ton of nutrition for such a small seed. It is a great source of healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, and fights inflammation and supports muscle recovery. Healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids are important to support the body’s recovery after childbirth.
Flax meal also has estrogenic properties that can help increase a mother’s breast milk supply! If you find yourself in need of making more breastmilk, one simple trick is to sprinkle flax meal (ground) on top of salads, yogurts, oatmeal, or you try these flaxseed lactation brownies!
- Bone Broth
Our last postpartum snack is bone broth! Bone broth is rich in collagen and gelatin which will help repair connective tissue such as skin, ligaments, and tendons. Bone broth improves our immune system by strengthening the gut lining to prevent inflammation and changes in the gut flora that could lead to toxins penetrating the tissues beneath the lining. Bone broth contains the amino acids, glycine and proline which are needed for soft tissue and wound healing. It has also been said to decrease fatigue and weakness which is just what you need to get you back on your feet!
If you are interested in making your own bone broth from scratch, check out this turkey and chicken bone broth recipe!
I hope these foods and recipes help in the preparation for your bundle of joy! It is important that us moms take care of ourselves so we can then take care of our families. Nutrition is one of the most important things we can do to take care of our bodies.
Postpartum Snack Gift Box
That’s why we created a healthy, nutritious Postpartum Snack Box for postpartum moms to help nourish them during recovery. Each snack was selected for its specific postpartum nutrient. It’s the perfect gift for any new mom! Click on the button below to purchase!