That’s what happened to me! Even as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, as a new mom, I found it hard to get quality nutrition during the first few months of my son’s life – especially in the first few weeks. As silly as it seems, in the first few weeks postpartum, there were many new things to think about and do. Somewhere amongst the feelings of exhilaration and exhaustion of being a new mom, I overlooked my health and wellness. Thankfully, I recognized that for me to best care for my newborn, I also needed to take care of me. I needed to do that with proper nutrition.
You see, when a woman breastfeeds (like I am!), her needs for several nutrients increase. Indeed, a woman’s needs for many nutrients – including vitamin C, choline, and vitamin B12 – increase even beyond what she needed during pregnancy!1-2
So, what can a nursing mom do to support her postpartum health and wellbeing? Here are my top postpartum nutrition tips:
Postpartum Nutrition Tip 1: Eat frequently!
It’s no secret that taking care of a baby can take lots of time and energy. Just like an infant needs many eating occasions, mom does too. Nursing moms should aim to eat when they feel hungry, ideally with a cadence of food throughout the day. Instead of pushing off hunger until baby falls asleep or waiting to eat until a full meal can be prepared, mom can grab quick handheld items like peanut butter sandwiches, fresh fruit, a handful or two of nuts, or a hardboiled egg when hunger hits.
Postpartum Nutrition Tip 2: Choose foods with carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats each provide unique benefits to a postpartum mom. They each deliver energy to mom, and they may impact a baby’s health too. Interestingly, when mom eats more omega-3 fatty acids (like EPA and DHA), more omega-3s are present in mom’s breast milk.3 While more conclusive research elucidating the health benefits of omega-3s to baby is needed, studies suggest that when breast milk delivers DHA omega-3, there might be potential benefits to baby including support of cognitive development.3-6