Healthy eating after having a baby

4th trimester New baby

There’s no denying that cake, coffee and chocolate will play a large and important part in your recovery from childbirth - and you definitely should enjoy it without guilt - but there are plenty of other super important foods that will genuinely support your body in those first few weeks and months after your baby arrives. 

Breastfeeding newborn with hand resting on mums top

Best for blood loss

Blood loss is totally normal after giving birth but the amount and duration will vary for everyone. Many women find that this bleeding has an impact on their energy levels and overall health. In some cases it could also lead to anaemia (something to talk to your health visitor about if you are really struggling). 

Try to increase the amount of iron you consume. This could be in red meat or fish such as sardines, spinach, lentils and cashew nuts. Also - fun fact klaxon - vitamin c helps your body absorb iron so try upping the amount of peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits you eat too. 

Best for breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can make you feel ravenous. This is totally normal, your body needs the extra calories to support milk production. In general, you don’t need to eat anything special while you are feeding but try to balance out the sugary treats with plenty of portions of fruit and vegetables and foods high in protein and calcium. And don’t hold back on second helpings - breastfeeding can burn 500 calories a day!

Porridge or oat-based biscuits are not only a great source of iron but anecdotal evidence from mums has also shown that oats can increase milk supply in some women. 

Mum lying on sofa with young baby

Eating fish is really good for you and your baby but while you are breastfeeding the NHS recommends that you only eat two portions of oily fish per week. Oily fish includes mackerel, sardines, trout and salmon.

More information about breastfeeding can be found here

And let’s not forget about the thirst!

Do you feel like you’re drinking more water than you’ve ever drunk before but STILL feel thirsty? This is another very normal physical response to breastfeeding. The thirst is triggered by the release of oxytocin when you feed your baby and is a way of making sure you stay hydrated and produce enough breast milk. Our bodies are so clever!

Our top tip is to keep a few water bottles dotted around the house in handy places, like next to the sofa or to your bed so you don’t get stuck under a baby and unable to get yourself a drink.

Best foods for coping with sleep deprivation

Finding the time and energy to cook nutritious, tasty meals when you have a newborn baby can be really tricky. Cluster feeding, naps and baby snuggling can mean you end up eating your meals at odd times of the day. It doesn’t matter when you eat, as long as you are eating. Consider stocking up on some good quality ready meals to keep in the freezer or if friends ask you what they can do to help, see if they can bring over a dish or two. 

We recommend stocking up on midnight snacks and just embracing the crumbs in the bed! A supply of granola bars, dark chocolate, dried fruit and nuts on your bedside table will help get you through the feeds in the early hours. 

Mixed nuts

Try not to rely on caffeine or chocolate for energy as this will only make you feel better for short amounts of time. Fruit can be a great source of slow-release energy and not only do carbs increase the amount of the happy hormone serotonin your brain releases, but they also fill you up. Carbs such as sweet potato or rice for dinner will also help you sleep better at night (if your little one gives you a sleep break!). 

A healthy and hearty breakfast such as porridge with a fruit compote or some eggs on toast is a good way of setting yourself up for the day. It may also stop you from reaching for the sugary snacks so often. 

Healthy snack ideas - things you could stock up on!

Toast with healthy toppings like peanut butter, strawberries

  • Carrot and pitta bread with hummus 
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Nut butter on toast or oatcakes
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Fruit and yoghurt smoothies
  • Vegetable/egg/fruit muffins

Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.  It’s just as important to take care of yourself as well as your baby in the first weeks and you’ll find plenty of people waiting in the wings to help so don’t be afraid to make the first move and ask for help or support however much you want to prove you are coping!

P.S. in the office we realised nearly all of us were much better at giving all this advice to other mums than listening to it ourselves 🙄and coffee and cake definitely has its place on those days!  

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