When it comes to childbirth recovery, there is no better time to nourish and care for yourself. Keep it balanced and simple with a few of these eating tips.
BY: CRYSTAL KARGES, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Childbirth is one of the most strenuous experiences, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that your body has been through. Creating a baby inside your body is nothing short of miraculous, and your body deserves gentle nutrition in the postpartum phase to promote optimal healing and recovery.
As a new mama, one of the most crucial components to recovery is nourishing your body well through food. While self-care seems like an unattainable dream while caring for a newborn, remember the foundation of a healthy family starts with you.
Keep these 4 tips in mind during the earliest days of childbirth recovery:
1. Get the essential nutrients.
The 3 main macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates, and fats are vital for every mother recovering from childbirth, whether or not a woman chooses to breastfeed her newborn. By focusing on building meals and snacks around these 3 macronutrients, you will ensure that your body and mind are receiving adequate nutrition for optimal functioning: fueling your body, keeping you energized, promoting intestinal health, protecting your immunity, repairing muscles, and maintaining hormones and mental health. As a new mother, each of these functions is absolutely crucial and making your health a priority should be non-negotiable.
2. Keep it simple.
Simple is key, especially when you are running on minimal sleep and counting on a pot of coffee to get you through the day. The key to feeding your body and nourishing both you and your baby during this time of postpartum healing is to minimize food preparation while getting in whole food sources that will nourish you. Focus on the main macronutrients that your body needs, and build meals and snacks in ways that combine key components of good nutrition: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
3. Plan ahead.
As overwhelming as things may feel during these newborn days, remember that good nutrition and health does not need to come from slaving in the kitchen or cooking for hours on end. Planning ahead is helpful, so you can ensure you have staples on hand for putting together a quick meal or snack. Breastfeeding does put additional energy needs on the body, with lactating mothers needing an additional 500 calories each day. Whatever your decision is for feeding your baby – whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding – you still need to be intentional about keeping wellness a priority and nourishing your body consistently.
4. Make it a variety
Mix and match your favorite carbohydrate/protein/fat foods to create your own simple snacks and meals throughout the day. There might be snacks that need to be eaten while you’re feeding your baby, and that is perfectly okay too! Good nutrition that optimally feeds you and your baby does not need to look picturesque or be Instagram-worthy to deliver the nutrient dense punch your body craves in this postpartum phase.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself during this delicate healing time.
Taking intentional time to feed your body adequately is a form of self-care, of which you are always deserving. Caring for your body through good nutrition ultimately nourishes the vessel that your precious little one depends on.
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.