In those early days and weeks after welcoming home your baby, your own nutrition is often the last thing on your mind. You’re often so caught up in that endless sleeping-feeding-pooping cycle (theirs, that is), that your needs get pushed to the side.
However, we’re here to remind you that looking after yourself during this period is just as important as caring for that precious bundle in your arms. Nutrition is incredibly important during the postpartum period, not only to help your body recover but also to supply you with the energy needed to care for your little one. Life with a newborn is mentally and physically exhausting, so giving your body the proper fuel to help you through those long days and sleepless nights is key.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you feel like there’s another thing being added to your to-do list, so don’t forget to ask for help! Get your partner in the kitchen or see if family and friends can help out with a meal train or by bringing a dish with them when they come to visit the baby.
The best foods for postpartum recovery
Here are some great options to incorporate into your meals and snacks that are packed full of good stuff to help aid your recovery.
Oats are a postpartum powerhouse. Oats are not only packed full of beta gluten which supports digestion and heart health, but they are also rich in antioxidants, protein and iron. Oats also have the added benefit for breastfeeding mamas in helping boost milk supply.
2. Bone broth
Not only are soups and stews that are made from bone broth easily digestible and warming, they are also rich in collagen for tissue repair. And they’re packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals that can help with brain function and fatigue, as well as support joint function, bone density and skin and protect against and postpartum hair loss.
3. Brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts are a good source of vitamin C, which is vital for tissue repair and healing after birth. Vitamin C supports the production of collagen, boosts immunity, as well as your ability to absorb iron. The good news is, if you’re not that into brussel sprouts, you can opt for other vegetables like red cabbage and snow peas – or even fruits like guava, oranges, strawberries and kiwi.
4. Cocoa powder
Yes, you read that right; cocoa powder (or even better cacao) is an excellent source of zinc. Alternatively, chickpeas or pumpkin seeds are also great sources of zinc.
Eggs are an affordable superfood that are not only protein-rich but they’re also abundant in B12, folate, choline, omega-3 fats and yes, even vitamin A, D, E and K. Everything you need to heal your body after birth.
6. Cultured or fermented foods
Cultured or fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi or even sauerkraut are probiotic-rich foods that can help you maintain a healthy gut, improve digestion and soothe inflammation.
7. Nuts & seeds
Not only are most nuts a source of protein, they are also versatile snacks and great to add to other dishes to give you that extra hit of goodness. Walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are sources of fatty acids. And you can find B vitamins in Macadamia nuts, almonds and pistachios.
8. Salmon and sardines
Salmon and sardines are anti-inflammatory and nutrient-rich sources that help heal your body and rebuild tissue. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both salmon and sardines can increase breast milk production and DHA helps develop your baby’s nervous system.
9. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are an easy to digest superfood, rich in vitamin A, potassium and fibre.
10. Red meat and leafy greens
Red meat is great for replenishing iron that is lost during childbirth. Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy and can sometimes last for up to 12 months after birth. Leafy greens are also fantastic for folate, vitamin A, C and are a great plant-based source of iron; they are even calcium-rich.
Make the freezer your friend!
Don’t feel like you need to be cooking fresh meals all the time – you’ve definitely not got the time for that right now! Plan ahead and stock your fridge with nutritious meals that can be ready in a few minutes! And don’t be afraid to try meal delivery or subscriptions (there are even dedicated postpartum ones these days for this very reason).
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when you’re navigating early motherhood, so don’t forget to go easy on yourself! Remember, you don’t need to consume everything on this list every week to get enough nutrients. Instead, it is good to be aware of what your body needs to recover and choose from the various options. Always listen to your body and give it the fuel it needs to get you through this postpartum period.