Congratulations! Your new little bundle of joy is here and your life is now focused on taking care of that baby. This means taking care of yourself, too. Getting sleep, exercising, staying hydrated, and, of course, eating right are all keys to you staying healthy and happy so that you are at your best for your infant.
Pregnancy vs. Postpartum Diets
When you were pregnant there was an entire list of foods that you were supposed to avoid. Some because they were dangerous to the baby growing inside of you and some because they would make your pregnancy more uncomfortable than it needed to be. This included caffeine, alcohol, undercooked fish and sushi, certain types of cheese and other dairy products, raw shellfish, sprouts, and cold cured or undercooked meats for safety’s sake. For your comfort, avoiding the types of foods that cause gas in everyone like beans, broccoli, cabbage, certain fruits and whole grains, dairy products, and fruit juices was recommended. (Source).
The list of foods that people will tell you to avoid when you are a new mom trying to play it super safe, and are nursing, doesn’t look that much different. If you are relying on formula for your infant’s nutrition then the criteria changes. The trick is balancing your diet to make sure that you are getting everything needed to stay strong and have the energy to be a mom, with the needs and comfort of your baby.
Balanced and Healthy Diet for New Moms
New moms should focus on eating a balanced diet based on whole foods and the nutrients that help to build your body up and repair it. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, skim and low fat dairy products, leafy greens, iron-rich foods and vitamin C. (Source). Avoid snacks that are full of sugar and sodium in favor of high fiber and low fat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products to satisfy cravings. (Source). Focus on good fats, like avocados, that carry other health benefits including helping to lower your cholesterol. Eat smaller, frequent, meals, which will help control the desire to snack and maintain the energy you need to wake up in the middle of the night to feed your baby.
The added benefit of maintaining a diet void of processed foods is that it will help you to bounce back to your pre-baby weight faster. This will also contribute to better healing of c-section scars and help your skin maintain its health and elasticity, which can be enhanced by using NewGel+ C-Section Strips after the staples or stitches are removed.
If you are not breastfeeding then your postpartum diet will focus just on your needs as a new mom. You can add into your diet moderate amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and favorite foods that you avoided when you were pregnant. Keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol are not beneficial to maintaining a regular sleep pattern and that alcohol has empty calories.
If you are breastfeeding the rules change, though. In some countries beer is recommended to increase milk production, though we are not endorsing it. If you do drink alcohol make sure that you wait 2-3 hours after consumption of one drink before pumping or nursing, or that you pump and dump to avoid passing alcohol along to the baby. (Source). Caffeine also is passed through breast milk and it may interrupt the sleep patterns of babies and make them fussy, so you will want to keep your consumption to a minimum. In addition, there is a list of foods that you may want to avoid when breastfeeding that is at least as long as the list to avoid when you are pregnant. These recommendations are based on what has been learned through trial and error about what makes babies unhappy or colicky.
Almost every source for information on what foods to avoid include chocolate, citrus fruits and fruit juice, dairy, gassy vegetables, nuts (especially peanuts and peanut products), shellfish, tomatoes, wheat, beef, dairy and egg white. This is not to say that all of this should be eliminated from your diet, just that any of these may cause a reaction in your infant as the food affects the breast milk passed from you to them. Note that these are foods that tend to cause reflux in adults, as well as colic in infants. (Source). If your baby is being fussy and colicky, try to remove one item from your diet at a time and see if that makes a difference, so you can isolate what they are sensitive to without impacting your own nutrition too drastically.
According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, breastfeeding moms require extra calories, up to 600 a day. They recommend that you build your diet as a new mom around the following, and not worry about the restrictions of your pregnancy diet:
- 2-3 protein servings a day
- At least 3 servings of vegetables that include dark green and yellow colors
- 2 or more servings of fruit
- Whole grains from bread, pasta, cereal and oatmeal
- Staying hydrated by drinking water instead of juice, soda or teas to quench your thirst
- If you are a vegetarian, make sure that you are including zinc, iron and protein in your diet and if you are vegan include a vitamin B12 supplement
We like their advice and recommend that you talk to your health care provider about what is right for you.