Eating healthy during pregnancy is important, but a well-balanced diet is equally important postpartum. The biggest complaints of women postpartum are exhaustion and changes in mood. Fortunately, eating the right foods can combat these conditions.
Super foods that fight depression and fatigueare the best foods for new Moms, their energy levels, their memory, and caring for their babies. Women may need a multivitamin and/or mineral supplement also. Although a vitamin and mineral supplement cannot replace a healthy diet. Talk with your doctor or health care provider about taking a supplement, and follow his or her advice. Tell your healthcare provider about any supplements you are already taking to protect herself against taking too much.
Nutritional Needs while Breastfeeding
When a woman is breastfeeding, she has a higher need for some vitamins and minerals. She needs a total of 500 extra calories each day to stay healthy and to produce nutritious breastmilk. Milk production is independent of what she eats the first 4 weeks because it derives the calories it needs for production from the fat accumulated during the pregnancy.
However, if she does not eat properly from the beginning, she will find herself very fatigued. The baby gets what the baby needs and the Mom is the one who suffers. Another important aspect of nursing is that she will find herself very thirsty. The best advice is to drink to thirst. She must listen to what her body needs. The body takes water from her system to make the breastmilk. If she does not drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluids per day, she may become constipated.
When a woman sits down to nurse, she should have water or juice so that she gets her daily requirements. No foods are universally restricted from her diet. Your baby will let you know! Gastric disturbances may be displayed by the baby if she consumes a particular food. If the baby exhibits a diaper rash, it may also be due to something ingested.
Weight loss will be healthiest and easier with a smart, balanced eating program. The food pyramid can serve as a guide to both balance and moderation from choosing from all the food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meats/beans.
In addition to eating from all five food groups and eating according to the recommended serving size, there are some other guidelines that will help a woman attain her pre-pregnancy weight again.
- Make each serving size 80% of what you would normally have.
- Eat until you feel just 80% full, then stop. (*It’s okay to leave food on your plate.)
- Choose foods with the highest nutritional value for 80% of your daily calories, which leaves 20% for a smalldaily treat, or foods of lower quality.
- Decrease the amount of ‘empty calories’. Empty calories are the calories from added sugars and solid fats, in foods like soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, cheese, whole milk, and fatty meats. Look for choices that are low-fat, fat-free, unsweetened, or with no-added-sugars. Alcohol is also a source of ‘empty calories’.
Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is best for moms and their babies for several reasons. Besides providing nourishment and helping to protect the baby against becoming sick, breastfeeding may help her lose the weight gained in pregnancy. Women who breastfeed exclusively for more than three months tend to lose more weight than those who do not. Those who continue breastfeeding beyond four to six months may continue to lose weight.
On average, women lose eight to twenty pounds in the first two weeks following childbirth. Then, the weight loss slows and plateaus. Some women who breastfeed need to maintain an extra five to ten pounds above their pre-pregnancy weight to support the demands of lactation. For other women, breastfeeding may help them to lose some of the weight gained, as it requires up to 500 additional calories per day for lactation. Either way, women should not worry if they do not lose all their pregnancy weight while breastfeeding, and they should be reassured that if they continue to exercise and monitor their diet they will reach their weight goal in time.
While a woman is breastfeeding, her need for fluids increases. She may notice that she is thirstier than before. She needs to drink enough water and other fluids to quench her thirst.
A common suggestion is to drink a glass of water or other beverage every time she breastfeeds. Some beverages, such as soft drinks and fruit drinks, contain added sugars; women should limit their intake of these beverages.
Breastfeeding women should use caution when drinking beverages containing caffeine or alcohol. These substances pass from her bloodstream into the breastmilk and to the baby. Drinking a moderate amount (12 ounces or less) of coffee or other caffeinated beverages does not affect the baby.
A woman can continue to breastfeed and have an occasional alcoholic beverage if she is cautious and follows these guidelines:
- Wait until the baby has a routine breastfeeding pattern, at least 3 months of age.
- Wait at least four hours after having a single alcoholic drink before breastfeeding.
- Or, express breastmilk before having a drink and use it to feed the baby later.
Breastfeeding provides many benefits. A woman should not stop breastfeeding altogether just because she would like to have an occasional drink.