Postpartum Nutrition for Mom and Baby
There is a lot of information out there about pregnancy and the required steps that a mom ought to take in order to have a healthy pregnancy, however, there is little information about what a mom should do to take care of herself and baby after pregnancy. Great nutrition and care during your pregnancy have helped your baby develop and grow. Now after nine months, you have finally met your lovely baby. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it is important to take care of yourself and your new baby.
You need the appropriate nutrition to recuperate and get your energy back. If you decide to breastfeed, you need to have the right amount of calories and right nutrition to be able to produce breast milk. Caloric intake varies between 2,100 to 2,300, but honestly there is no magic number. It all comes down to how much body fat you accumulated during pregnancy, how much milk you are producing, and how active you are.
Let me explain what I mean by body fat. During pregnancy, your very smart body accumulates fat to be able to provide calories during and after pregnancy. After pregnancy, your body will start burning fat to give you the appropriate calories so you are able to produce breast milk. This means that breastfeeding will help you lose those pregnancy pounds. Please keep in mind that losing weight should be slow and safe. Studies have shown that gradual weight loss up to a pound a week does not interfere with milk production or your baby’s weight gain. If you are losing weight faster than this, try to eat a little more.
It’s not just calories that are needed; your body also requires different nutrients. Let’s talk about some:
- Calcium: It’s hardly surprising that the requirement for Calcium increases when breast-feeding. Aim for 4 to 5 servings of calcium-rich foods each day.
- Vitamin D: Another nutrient that is often in low supply when breastfeeding. It’s recommended that you continue the 10mcg per day that you have been taking during pregnancy.
- Omega-3’s: Supports the vital development of your baby’s brain, eyes, and nerves, which continue to grow and develop after birth. Continue to eat oil rich fish, though be aware of some fish’s high mercury content. Stick with small to medium size fish and take good quality Omega-3 supplements.
- Water: From just a few tablespoons of breast milk in the early days of breastfeeding, you may go on to produce up to 3 1/2 cups per day. The recommendations of water intake during breastfeeding is about 12 glasses per day. It sounds like a lot but you can meet this by having a drink at each meal and snack, and when breastfeeding. Keep a bottle of water handy wherever you tend to breast feed. You will be surprised how thirsty you get.
- Limit Alcohol/Caffiene: They both pass in small amounts from your body into your breast milk and need to be limited.
Just as during pregnancy, a vegetarian or vegan diet can be perfectly healthy for breast-feeding, it just needs to be well planned. The nutrient requirements will be the same as before. Make sure to include Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Omega-3 oils. These are nutrients that are at extra risk of being depleted in a vegan and vegetarian diet. If you are a vegan, you should be supplementing with Vitamin B12 and Calcium. You will have to increase your plant-based protein intake each day to make sure you have the proper nutrition for you and your baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
I’m not here to persuade you to breastfeed your baby. However, I will tell you a few of the benefits of breastfeeding.
- It will improve your mental health and lower the risk of postpartum depression.
- After delivery, breastfeeding reduces the risk of blood loss and delays the return of your menstrual cycle.
- Reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer.
- Improves bone density and decreases the risk of hip fracture later in life.
It all comes down to doing what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Make sure you are well nourished. Follow your appetite, your body will tell you when you need more food.
Dr. Carolina Padilla is the owner and founder of Integrative Primary Care, LLC. She specializes in women’s health, fertility, pre & postnatal care and breastfeeding support. Visit: www.carolnd.com to learn more about Dr. Carol’s practice or contact her directly to 860-375-5088 and book your home visit.