Giving birth is hard on the body, and one of the best ways to take care of yourself and ensure that your body smoothly transition into postpartum mode is by eating varied and nutritious foods. That’s right: food is medicine, and after birth, there are healing powers in every bite you take — that is, if you eat smart.
Do you want to kickstart your milk supply or avoid the discomforts of postpartum constipation? Or perhaps, you just want to recover from a c-section and up your energy as quickly as possible. The foods that you choose will depend on your goals. So we’ve put together a food guide to help you get the nutrients you need to stick to your postpartum plans.
Here are 6 postpartum situations, and what you should eat to help you get on the right track after giving birth.
1. Kick-start your milk supply. To start making milk and make lots of it, you want to focus on lactogenic foods and spices that can help increase your milk supply. Foods such as oatmeal, flaxseed and garlic are great to get that flow going and are easy to add to your daily meal plans. Read up on additional lactogenic foods here.
2. Make your breast milk as nutritional for baby as possible. Here’s where variety is key! Infants need it all: protein, fat, carbohydrates, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. So if you want to give baby the nutrients that he needs, variety is key. Opt for healthy fats, like avocados, lean proteins, like chicken or a low-mercury fish, and whole grains, like brown rice. For lots of fiber and iron, choose leafy greens like kale and spinach. Though these nutrients will help with your little one’s development, remember that all that nutrient-rich food is for you too! When breastfeeding, your body needs the extra calories.
3. Recover from c-section. Eating protein-rich foods throughout the day will help you have more energy to recover, as well as facilitate tissue repair. If you’re pressed for time, protein shakes are a great alternative not just for protein, but for a variety of nutrients that are key for recovery (like vitamin C and calcium. Other protein-rich foods that are easy to add to your diet? Cottage cheese, bone broth, and Greek yogurt will help you heal faster and enhance good bacteria balance to prevent any post-surgical infections.
4. Reduce scaring and heal from stitches. Foods with Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and Zinc have been known to help healing wounds and scars. Vitamin C is especially crucial because it promotes the formation of collagen, which itself helps restore skin cells. Bell peppers, strawberries, oranges and other citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C. Both beta-carotene and zinc boost the immune system and enables skin tissue to heal more quickly. So don’t forget your carrots, sweet potatoes, seafood and red meat!
5. Boost your energy level. Staying hydrated is actually a great way to keep your energy up. But after birth, it may not be enough. So opt for the superfood chia seeds and foods that have a lot of B12, like seafood, liver and eggs. Try to avoid processed and sugary foods because they only provide a short-term energy boost followed by a blood sugar crash, which actually make you feel very tired. Nuts, legumes, sweet potatoes, oats, and brown rice are all low-glycemic carbohydrates that will provide the body long-lasting energy.
6. Fight postpartum constipation. One word: fiber. It helps you hold on to water, which softens stool, and makes it easier for food to travel down the intestine. Fiver can also speed up digestion and stimulate bowel movements. Incorporate leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, legumes and oatmeal into your diet to try and get things moving.