Many women spend the weeks leading up to their little one’s arrival prepping and nesting. But it’s also just as important to prepare yourself for the next chapter after your baby is here. Your needs are going to be different. Although you may no longer be growing a little human inside your womb, your body is still working to grow a human on the outside. For those who are breastfeeding, your nutrient needs are actually higher now then they were throughout pregnancy. And even if you’re not breastfeeding, enduring labor and delivery is an athletic sport and your body will need to recoup. Refueling on necessary nutrients will help your body regain energy to heal postpartum. At this time, your uterus is shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size, connective tissues are re-adapting, and your skin is regaining elasticity. Therefore, continuing your prenatal nutrient-dense diet is just as important postpartum and you still may need larger portions as it’s crucial to honor your hunger. Here postpartum-specific nutrients to add to your diet now.
Skin elasticity breaks down throughout pregnancy, so collagen is essential to help rebuild tissues so the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, and uterus can heal. Bone broth in particular provides many vitamins and minerals essential for the body’s healing process, including the amino acid glycine, which your body uses to make collagen. You can add bone broth to your diet by preparing soups and stews. You can also get collagen from slow-cooked meats or in supplementation form.1
Iron remains an important nutrient postpartum to replete blood stores and combat anemia, which can cause feelings of fatigue, altered cognition, and depressive symptoms.2 Slow-cooked meats, beans and legumes, oysters, and cooked spinach are rich iron sources.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your DHA Omega-3 fatty acid stores are delivered to your baby throughout pregnancy and afterward through breast milk. So it’s important to continue to include DHA-rich foods into your diet postpartum to decrease your chances of postpartum depression and minimize that ever so real “mom brain.”3 DHA is found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut, oysters, anchovies, eggs, and grass-fed beef.
For those who plan to breastfeed, your diet plays a large role in the nutrient concentrations that are found in your breast milk. This includes your B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, choline, DHA, and minerals including iodine and selenium. Source diverse nutrients by continuing to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, eggs, meats, beans and legumes, fish, and nuts and seeds in your diet. A nutrient-dense diet for you equals a nutrient-dense diet for your baby.4
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1 Real food for pregnancy. Realfoodforpregnancy.com.
2 Yefet E, Suleiman A, Garmi G, Hatokay A, Nachum Z. Evaluation of postpartum anaemia screening to improve anaemia diagnosis and patient care: A prospective non-randomized before-and-after anaemia screening protocol implementation study. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):7810.
3 Levant B, Ozias MK, Davis PF, et al. Decreased brain docosahexaenoic acid content produces neurobiological effects associated with depression: Interactions with reproductive status in female rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008;33(9):1279-1292.
4 Picciano MF. Pregnancy and lactation: physiological adjustments, nutritional requirements and the role of dietary supplements. J Nutr. 2003;133(6):1997S-2002S.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.