Ensure you stay healthy after birth so you can feel your best and enjoy the journey of motherhood, with these 11 post natal nutrition tips…
By Lucy Gornall, Health Journalist of the Year (HFMA) and personal trainer specialising in pre and post-natal fitness
We all know the importance of a healthy, balanced diet, but after the birth of your baby, it’s really key to ensure you’re fuelling yourself correctly.
Plus, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be using even more energy so will need to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. But do remember that only small amounts of what you’re eating or drinking can be passed to your baby through breast milk, so don’t worry if you find that your diet isn’t what you might class as perfect.
If you’re a new mum in particular, you’re treading new waters and the last thing you need is extra panic over food!
1. Eat Enough Calories
Having had a baby grow inside you for nine months, it’s natural for your body to look different than it did before conception. However, now isn’t the time to be starving your body of calories in order to ‘bounce back’. Your body has gone through an enormous change and still requires calories to function. Listen to your body and eat nutritious, wholesome foods when you feel hungry.
2. Curb The Caffeine If You’re Breastfeeding
As when you were pregnant, it’s advised that you consumer no more than 200mg of caffeine a day.
According to the NHS, caffeine could reach your baby through breast milk, keeping them awake. As if you weren’t tired enough, this could exacerbate the problem!
In case you were unsure, one mug of filter coffee contains 140mg of caffeine, a mug of instant coffee contains 100mg and a mug of tea contains 75mg. Don’t forget that chocolate, coke and energy drinks also contain caffeine.
3. Should You Avoid Alcohol?
The NHS state that the occasional drink is unlikely to harm your baby during breastfeeding. In fact, they say that one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week should be fine. However, try to leave a few hours between drinking and breastfeeding.
If you’re not breastfeeding, the usual alcohol guidelines apply. Women should aim to have no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
So, what’s a unit? A small 125ml of wine, half a pint of beer or a single 25ml measure of a spirit
Just bear in mind that while a nice glass of red can chill you out, alcohol can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling more anxious than usual.
4. Watch Your Fish
Aim to include two 140g portions of oily fish in your diet each week. This can include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. Oily fish is full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and potentially lower the risk of certain diseases, plus these fatty acids are important for the development of your baby’s brain and vision.
However, if you are breastfeeding, the NHS state that swordfish, marlin or shark should be limited to one portion a week due to high mercury levels. Other fish do not need to be limited.
5. Maintain Your Five A Day
And try to aim for five as minimum! This can include fresh, frozen and canned fruit and veg, as well as one 150ml of unsweetened juice. Aim to ‘eat the rainbow’ as a multitude of colourful fruit and veg means a greater variety of minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
6. You CAN Eat Peanuts
Worried your baby might be allergic? The NHS state that there’s currently no clear evidence that eating peanuts whilst breastfeeding affect’s your newborn’s chances of developing an allergy. In fact, unless you’re allergic yourself, then you can freely enjoy peanuts. Nut butter on toast could be a delicious snack option!
7. Supplement With Vitamin D
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, ensuring you have enough of the sunny vitamin is key. This year in particular, thanks to lockdown, everyone in the UK was advised to take a supplement all year round, on account of spending more time inside.
According to the NHS, if you’re breastfeeding, a vitamin D supplement containing 10mcg is advisable. It is also recommended to give your baby a vitamin D supplement of 8.5 µg to 10µg per day from birth, including breastfed babies, unless they are topping up or drinking 500ml or more of infant formula a day, as infant formula has vitamins added to it.
Try: Wellbaby Vitamin D Drops 30ml, £4.95, vitabiotics.com
8. Eat Plenty Of Protein
Aim to have protein at every meal to help support your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Often, breakfast can be a hard meal in which to incorporate protein. If eggs are somewhat of a faff to cook first thing, perhaps some Greek yogurt with fruit and muesli could be a simpler option.
Other protein sources include meat, chicken and fish whilst plant based sources include nuts, soya, pulses and seeds.
When it comes to eggs, ensure they are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion). This means they have a very low risk of salmonella and can be eaten raw or partially cooked without too much worry.
9. Worried About Hair Loss?
You might notice hair loss after giving birth, which is usually down to hormonal imbalances. This is usually nothing to worry about and your normal hair growth should resume between 6 to 12 months after birth. This is another key reason to keep up a healthy protein intake. The British Nutrition Foundation recommend an average of 0.6g of protein per kg of bodyweight, per day.
10. Keep Up The Calcium
Eat dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, however if you’re vegan, opt for tofu, brown bread and calcium fortified dairy free milks.
It’s advised that breastfeeding mums should ensure around 1250mg of calcium a day. To put this into perspective, half a tin of sardines provides 260mg, an ounce of Parmesan cheese provides 331mg and 100g of Greek yogurt contains around 110g.
11. Stay Hydrated
A good rule of thumb when it comes to hydration, is to check the colour of your wee. If your urine is dark, then it’s time to drink some more fluids. Ideally, your wee would be a clear yellow colour.
Aim to drink around eight cups of water a day to avoid constipation, support breastfeeding, maintain muscle and joint health and cleanse your body.
You may need more if you’re breastfeeding or if you’re exercising and sweating more than usual. As is often the case, listen to your body. Thirsty? It’s time for a drink!
Information correct at date published. Copyright © Vitabiotics Ltd.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional regarding any medical condition. While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in the blog and to describe best generally accepted current practices we cannot accept any liability for errors or omissions or for any consequences from application of the information given