Guest Blog Post by Julie Keta, RD, WHC from Flourish True Nutrition & Women’s Health Coaching
New Mama-hood can feel like you’ve become the CEO of an extra large corporation overnight. Pregnancy can feel like a monster mountain, then the marathon of L&D comes, and the next thing you know YOU have also been appointed MAMA-ger of the most precious gift of life. Talk about responsibility.
It’s no surprise that your new gig leaves little room for a ‘lunch break’. I get it, the thought of food preparation in the early postpartum days can be non-existent.
The truth is, supporting your body with the nutrition it needs in the postpartum period is so key to help you heal and thrive as you get to know your little love better.
Stay tuned for my top 5 ‘Nourish HACKS’ to help you restore and revive!
HEY-HEY-HYDRATE! We are often reminded to drink MORE fluid during pregnancy to support all the miraculous changes our bodies go through, but did you know that this tip to keep up the sip carries over into the ‘fourth trimester’? Fluid balance changes to support breast milk production (87% water!) for lactating Mamas1, and drinking enough fluid during the day can also support smooth bowel moves — something that can feel a little more challenging after birth. Thankfully, we do get about 20% of our fluid needs met through eating water-containing foods daily2, but we still need to work at closing the gap by serving up our fav bevvy! Recommendations for Mamas suggest drinking ~9 cups of fluid daily, and if breastfeeding that number jumps to ~13 cups daily3.
To help you sip smartly during your day:
keep a glass or bottle of water/milk/fav tea close to where you snuggle with baby or watch Netflix
Including warming soups in your eating pattern can add fluid to your day while providing nourishment
Taking a water bottle to bed (bedside table that is) can serve as company during 3 am (or 1 am AND/OR 5 am) wake ups with babe – take a swig or two before you hit the pillow again
Add berries, squeezed lemons/limes/oranges or a splash of your favourite juice (I love pomegranate!) to your glass for a punch of flavour
Last but not least, peek at your pee. If the colour of your urine is pale yellow, you are likely well hydrated2. If it’s darker in colour, chalk it up to experience and head to the kitchen for a glass of goodness.
2. ASK/ACCEPT support.
Being a new Mama is anything but familiar. You may have had experience with babies before, but then you suddenly have your own and it’s a different story. The new story you’re writing takes your full energy, and there can be little left for thinking about what to eat in the early days. New Mama Tip: If food is offered to you, welcome it with open arms. Between the little sleep that you may be getting, feeding baby, and just learning all the newness that comes your way food offerings feel like you’ve struck gold. Sometimes asking for help is hard, but when the going gets tough some days, don’t feel like you need to go it alone. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it just might take a village to raise a Mama too. Family, friends, support groups you’re involved in will likely be more than happy to drop off a quick meal to make life easier. Having your partner or best friend organize a meal train in the early postpartum can take the pressure to add one more thing to your daily to do list away.
3. COMMIT to fuel. Postpartum recovery is no easy feat. Nourishing your body with deeply healing foods is essential. Tissues need to remodel, regain function, and evolve. If you breastfeed, producing that magic milk requires many calories and nutrients
4. Not to mention the hormonal/emotional ebb and flow that your body and mind encounter during your transition to Mama-hood. All of these changes that take place require one important thing…FUEL from the food you eat. Aiming to include regular meals and snacks in your day can go a long way to support post-birth recovery and nutrient repletion after the 9 months of pregnancy, the marathon or major surgical intervention of birth, and to support lactation. Choosing foods like meats, fish, eggs, legumes, greek yogurt can add a needed protein punch to meals along with iron and B12 which are ideal in the postpartum period for repletion. Slowly digested carbohydrates like quinoa, wild/brown rice, oats, whole grain breads, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables5 can provide sustainable energy, keep moods level, and give a boost of fibre that can help keep you feeling fuller longer and bowels regular4,6. Nutritious unprocessed added fats like avocados, nut/seed butters, oils(try olive/coconut/macadamia) not only taste delicious, but also support feelings of satisfaction between meals, and provide the much need extra calories that Moms require during the ‘fourth trimester’, and if lactating.
Try your best to get a mix of nutrients at meals and snacks. This combination will help to give you a balanced boost of nutrients needed to fuel your recovery, optimize energy levels, mental and hormonal health.
4. KEEP calm and snack on. I often have new Mamas wonder if having a snack postpartum is OK? Yes, yes, YES! Yes, you can snack. Yes, you can eat after 7pm. Yes, if your stomach is grumbling, please answer the call. Remember that it takes energy to heal what your body went through during childbirth, demands of lactation also up your needs further, and eating nutrient dense foods helps replete needed nutrients that were in high demand in pregnancy. Help your hunger guide your intake, and when you’re feeling that satisfied sense of fullness, that’s your cue to stop eating. My favourite quick options to reach for:
Small tortilla, 1/2 to full banana and 2 Tbsp of peanut butter (I’m also all for adding 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips to the mix!)
1/2 cup of greek yogurt topped with your favourite fruit, 1-2 Tbsp of nuts and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
Avocado-feta toast; toast your favourite slice of bread, smash half an avocado on top, 1 Tbsp of feta, drizzle of balsamic reduction (pre-bottled will do just fine)
5. STICK with self-compassion.
After you’ve grown a human being for 9 months, diet culture can tell us all about how quickly your body should ‘bounce back’. Research shows that many women experience some type of dissatisfaction related to their bodies during pregnancy and the postpartum period7. On any day of the year we can find unrealistic expectations being pushed on our bodies. Wherever these tricky expectations come from, they can impact the lens in which we view our bodies through. I encourage you to acknowledge the intense feat that your body accomplished over nine months, and honour the time it needs to rest, recharge, and recalibrate. That recalibration may also LOOK different, and this is absolutely normal. Appreciate the way your body serves you day in and day out and speak it out loud. Let’s side with celebration, not expectation.
If you need help with any of your nutrition and health goals in new Mama-hood, Julie is here for you! Julie is based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. She currently provides virtual care only to all Mamas of Ontario. Book your free discovery call at Flourish True (www.flourishtrue.com) to see if Julie’s services are a good fit for your needs!
1Bardosono S, Prasmusinto D, Hadiati DR, Purwaka BT, Morin C, Pohan R, Sunardi D, Chandra DN, Guelinckx I. Fluid Intake of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women in Indonesia: A Cross-Sectional Survey with a Seven-Day Fluid Specific Record. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 22;8(11):651. doi: 10.3390/nu8110651. PMID: 27879652; PMCID: PMC5133054.
2 Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2019, November 6). How Much Water Do You Need. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-much-water-do-you-need#:~:text=You%20typically%20get%20about%2020,of%20water%20that%20is%20lost.
3Health Canada (2006, June 29). Dietary Reference Intakes. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/dietary-reference-intakes/tables/reference-values-macronutrients-dietary-reference-intakes-tables-2005.html
4Nutrition Working Group, O’Connor DL, Blake J, Bell R, Bowen A, Callum J, Fenton S, Gray-Donald K, Rossiter M, Adamo K, Brett K, Khatri N, Robinson N, Tumback L, Cheung A. Canadian Consensus on Female Nutrition: Adolescence, Reproduction, Menopause, and Beyond. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2016 Jun;38(6):508-554.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2016.01.001. Epub 2016 May 14. Erratum in: J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2018 Feb;40(2):268. PMID: 27368135.
5Diabetes Canada (2021, May 2). The Glycemic Index. https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/tools—resources/the-glycemic-index-(gi)
6Haghighatdoost F, Azadbakht L, Keshteli AH, Feinle-Bisset C, Daghaghzadeh H, Afshar H, Feizi A, Esmaillzadeh A, Adibi P. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and common psychological disorders. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan;103(1):201-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.105445. Epub 2015 Nov 25. PMID: 26607943.
7Morin, Karen & Brogan, Samantha & Flavin, Susan. (2002). Attitudes and Perceptions of Body Image in Postpartum African American Women: Does Weight Make a Difference?. MCN. The American journal of maternal child nursing. 27. 20-5. 10.1097/00005721-200201000-00008.