The postpartum period can be a challenging one. Adjusting to all the new changes to your life and your body is taxing to say the least! And while nutrition may be the LAST thing on your mind, it still remains as important as ever, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Instead of giving you a long list of vitamins and nutrients, here are five KEY foods to think about incorporating to support your post-labor recovery, build your strength and give you the energy you need to power through the “fourth” trimester.
Wild Salmon - Nature may not have a “perfect” food, but wild salmon is pretty high up on that list! It is loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which provide a plethora of health benefits to the postpartum mama. Omega-3 fatty acids help to rebuild cellular tissue and repair cellular damage. Studies have also demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid intake combats depression, which a plus for fending off the “baby blues”. DHA, a subtype of omega-3 fat acids, is crucial for the development of your baby’s nervous system and cognitive development, and the amount of DHA you consume in your diet is expressed in your breastmilk. Other great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, trout, sardines, avocado, olives, nuts/seeds and coconut oil. Make sure to continue to eat no more than 12 oz of fish (or 2 large servings) per week due to mercury concerns.
Beans and Legumes – Beans and legumes really ARE magical for the postpartum mama. They are a great source of lean protein, folate and fiber – the latter is especially important for fending off constipation – a common postpartum concern! Beans and legumes are also loaded with iron. Eating plenty of iron rich foods will help prevent iron depletion post-birth, which is quite common due to the iron demands of pregnancy and blood loss immediately after birth. Make sure to eat beans and legumes with a source of vitamin C, such as bell peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits or strawberries to maximize iron absorption.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens – If spinach makes you think of Popeye’s massive biceps, then you’re on the right track! Spinach and dark leafy greens pack a punch for essential nutrients and minerals in high demand during the postpartum period - such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin K. Throw greens in everything from your morning egg scramble or smoothie, to soups and stews – these delicious leaves are as versatile as they are nutritious.
Eggs – Consuming protein is incredibly beneficial towards healing and building strength during the postpartum period. Protein helps to build and repair muscle, skin and other body tissues, as well as delivering oxygen throughout the body, which promotes the health of all your cells! Eggs are rich in healing protein (one egg packs in a whopping 7 grams!) as well as 13 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc and choline. Plus, eggs are an easy-to-cook option for the time-pressed postpartum mama. Go for DHA- fortified eggs to boost your intake of this important omega-3 fatty acid.
Oats –Oats are truly a postpartum superfood! Oats are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron and folate. Plus, oats are a great source of fiber, which helps keep you full and promotes healthy digestion. Oats and oatmeal are galactogogues – which means they promote healthy breastmilk production. Oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates, helping to meet your elevated carbohydrate needs in the postpartum period. Getting adequate carbohydrates in the form of whole grains is particularly critical for keeping your energy up and balancing your blood sugar, all of which is ideal during those first few weeks of altered sleep!
Don't miss Sarah's complimentary Postpartum Nutrition workshop hosted by FPC at the studio next Wednesday, May 2 from 5:30 - 7:00PM for more information. SIGN UP NOW.