Written by guest blogger Amanda Michaelson
Bodies are truly unbelievable! The first 12 weeks after childbirth are often referred to as the 4th trimester. Is it a time of immense physical and emotional change for both parent and baby. As a mom, you are healing and adjusting to having a new addition to your family, (maybe even for the first time), while your baby adjusts to being outside the womb. Nutrition plays a large role in healing and finding your strength.
Here are my top tips for you to support yourself through the first 12 weeks of your postpartum journey. As I always say to my clients, take what you need, leave what you don’t.
Water is essential! A birthing parent’s baseline hydration needs are approximately 2L a day. However, while breastfeeding and healing the need for hydration goes up. Aim to get an extra liter in daily making your target around the 3L mark. I recommend having a large insulated water bottle, tumbler or mason jar nearby at all times so you can easily reach your water goal.
Keep things interesting by stocking your cupboard full of herbal teas to have hot or cold. Pre-cut lemon, limes, grapefruit and orange slices in the freezer for a bright vitamin c boost.
It’s important to aim for protein at every meal because it is the most satiating macronutrient! It takes time to digest protein therefore keeping you fuller for longer. It also plays a key role in keeping your blood sugar balanced. Protein acts as building blocks for your cells which is especially important after childbirth to help you feel strong. Both animal and plant-based protein can be enjoyed such as salmon, beef, eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken, beans and soy products.
Collagen can be very helpful for muscle and tissue repair. It can be found in bone which is incredibly healing and nutrient dense. Bone broth is different from chicken soup because it’s cooked for an extended period of time to extract all of the minerals and marrow from the bones. Collagen can also be consumed in a powder format often labeled as ‘collagen peptides’ this product can be stirred into a coffee or a tea or even used in a smoothie as you would a protein powder. Collagen is an excellent way to boost your protein intake with 10g of protein per scoop.
Along with protein, healthy fats should be Included at every meal! Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, pumpkin seeds and cashews help you feel satiated, fight inflammation and provide energy to aid in healing and milk production.
Healthy fats make your food taste delicious and can aid in the protection against postpartum depression.
Eat the rainbow:
Fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are necessary to the healing process. Soups and stews are an amazing and comforting way to get in an excellent dose of veggies and nutrients. They are also very convenient. Try making double and triple batches that can be prepared prior to giving birth and stored in the freezer!
Make your vegetable soups into a complete meal by adding a protein source such as hemp hearts, chickpeas or rotisserie chicken, some dark leafy greens and a drizzle of olive oil. Aim to have half of your plate filled with delicious colorful vegetables. Enjoy fruit as a snack paired with a healthy fat or a small serving of protein to keep your blood sugar balanced to help prevent crashes in your energy levels.
Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are also an amazing way to get your veggies in while helping you maintain a healthy and happy gut!
Healthy carbohydrates are an important source of energy! Focus on whole grain carbohydrates. Whole grain carbohydrates are superior to refined carbohydrates because of their nutrient density. They are filled with both fiber and b vitamins.
A great, cozy breakfast to encourage milk flow is oatmeal. Steel cut or rolled oats are both delicious options and can be batch cooked and warmed up as needed. Make sure to add a protein source, a healthy fat and a fruit of your choice to make a complete meal.
Some other whole grain carbohydrate options include quinoa, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Not sure where to start? Pick one of these items that resonate with you the most and start to implement slowly but surely. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Remember, baby steps lead to big changes. You got this!
Amanda Michaelson is a holistic nutritionist in Toronto. Amanda offers 4 and 12-week nutritional coaching packages, as well as group wellness programs.
To learn more about Amanda’s nutrition coaching programs visit https://www.amandamichaelsonnutrition.com/