How can you get your post-partum nutrition right and eat to boost energy as a new mum?
What does every new mum have in common (and some not-so-new mums too)? Fatigue. We are just. so. damn. tired. Which makes it so much harder to eat right. Our bodies crave short, sharp boosts of energy, so we grab the nearest, easiest thing – and it usually contains caffeine, or sugar, or both. Sound familiar?
Don’t panic – I’m a realist, so some caffeine and sugar is a-okay in my book – just go BIG on quality (think organic chemical-free coffee, 70%+ chocolate), and small on quantity, and enjoy each and every sip/bite! However, you can only do so much to minimise the fatigue (we all know mum-naps are in short supply) and relying on caffeine and sugar to get you through every day will only lead to crashes. Save these treats for the really tough days!
So, what should we be eating after we’ve just put our bodies through possibly the biggest challenge they’ll ever experience? Check out below for the key areas of post-partum nutrition, and some tips for what you can enjoy during this amazing-yet-energy-zapping period of your life.
Post-Partum Nutrition Tip #1 – Protein & Fat
Just like post-workout snacks, including healthy protein and fat is critical for postpartum recovery, energy to get through long nights (and days), and fuel for breastmilk if you are breastfeeding. In fact, it is particularly important in the production of breastmilk, since a large proportion is made up fat.
Find your healthy fats in avocados, nuts, eggs, oils (extra virgin olive, coconut, avocado, walnut, macadamia, flaxseed etc). Healthy protein sources include:
- Yoghurt – full fat, Greek, no flavouring – add your own!
- Lean meats and fish – be mindful of tuna and other fish sources of mercury if breastfeeding
- Beans – great vegetarian option
- Nut butter, nuts and seeds
- Hummus – the sesame seeds and tahini (from chick peas) provide great sources of protein
- Veg – cauliflower, broccoli and spinach are great sources
- Protein powders – go for a good brand like SunWarrior or Raw – useful in smoothies and protein balls!
Post-Partum Nutrition Tip #2 – Dealing With Cravings
Craving sugar? Caffeine? Beer? You may find your body craving certain foods and drinks post-partum. After both births, I craved beer, when it normally wouldn’t be my drink of choice! I allowed myself a little indulgence a few days a week (I usually couldn’t manage a whole beer though). And you should too, but be mindful of what it is your body is craving and why. If it’s sugar and/or caffeine, find some healthy swaps and alternatives to get you through each day.
Ways to beat your post-partum cravings:
- If you’re craving sugar, add cinnamon to your breakfast or snacks; cinnamon is known to help reduce the craving
- If you’re reaching for the chocolate, try a date with almond butter – the sweetness is super-satisfying, but the added fibre, healthy fat, protein and vitamins and minerals make it a much healthier option. Just stick to 1 or 2 though!
- If you want to chug coffee like it’s going out of fashion, try some of these alternatives – strong peppermint tea (eg fresh leaves steeped overnight) will give you a big kick in the morning; green tea contains some caffeine but offers other benefits too; dandelion root tea…
- If you are going after cola, then try having a glass of coconut water a day instead. This will hydrate and replace electrolytes, and hit the sweet spot. This was my go-to in the mornings during the morning feed!
Post-Partum Nutrition Tip #3 – Hydration
I can’t stress how important this is. If you are breastfeeding you need approximately 2.5 litres of fluid a day; a little bit more if you are undertaking high levels of exercise, sweating a lot or are in a hot climate. Otherwise approximately 2 litres is a good amount. I say ‘approximately’ since size and stature influence this too. Remember, if you have just recently had your baby, then your body is flushing out a lot of excess fluid from the pregnancy, so it’s especially important to keep your hydration up to assist with this process!
- Water – flavour with fruit, mint, cucumber slices etc to make it more exciting
- Coconut water – great source of electrolytes
- Coffee & tea – these count towards your fluid intake, but remember they are also diuretics, so limit them to 1-2 cups per day
- Soft drinks – these don’t provide any nutritional value, so try to avoid or limit to 1 glass a few times a week
- Alcohol – whilst this is another source of fluid, it is generally quite dehydrating. Have an extra glass of water for each alcoholic beverage to balance things out
*Don’t forget, breastfeeding requires more ‘extra calories’ than being pregnant. It can zap you further of your nutrients and energy, making good post-partum nutrition for mum even MORE important. Be mindful too of how much caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks) you are consuming, as small amounts can reach bub.
Need some extra help to boost your energy and immune system, and get back on track after having your bundle of joy? Then get in touch NOW to book your postnatal consultation.
And don’t forget to check out my FREE eBook for some delicious, quick and easy lunch recipes that will help boost your hormones:
“Nutrient-Boosted Lunches for Women – in 10 minutes or less”