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Do I Need Postpartum Supplements?

Author: Julina Halim

Perhaps a better place to start is to first understand whether you are meeting your nutritional needs in this extraordinary period in your life. 

You’ve done everything right to deliver this baby: prenatal exercises, breathing, eating right, and reading all the books possible. However, none of these may have prepared you enough for how you feel now: exhausted, sore, and your body doesn’t feel like the one you used to know. 

The reality is, your body has gone through massive changes from the day you conceived, and it needs time to heal. This is also an opportunity for you to reset and build a new, stronger body and fitter. 

Your postpartum nutrition needs to support physical healing, new demands with a newborn, and your emotional needs. 

The good news is, we now know about the gut-brain connection through the vagus nerves: what’s good for your body will also be good for your brain. 

We can’t stress enough how vital a nutrient-dense food plan rich in protein (especially collagen), vitamins & minerals, and good fat is to your recovery. In particular, foods high in omega-3, B vitamins, Vitamin D,  and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium will also help support your energy level and emotional wellbeing.  

Let’s take a look at these two dishes:

(source: Recipes and nutrition facts can be found at eatthismuch.com)

A meal with simple fish chowder is already giving you more of the nutrients than a turkey sandwich would. Complete the meal with a serving of brown rice and barley, and you are getting more fiber and nutrients from wholegrain.

(Per serving)Turkey Sandwich with Wholegrain BreadSimple Fish Chowder with Tomato & Celery (1)Brown Rice and Barley(2)Simple Fish Chowder served with Brown Rice and Barley (1)+(2)
Total Calorie177145216361
Carbs27g11g46g57g
Fat3g1g1g2g
Protein10g23g5g28g
Fiber4g6g4g10g
Omega-30.1g0.2g0g0.2g
Calcium108.2mg151.9mg19.3mg170.3mg
Iron2.2mg2.9mg1.2mg4.1mg
Magnesium55.3mg74.5mg77.8mg152.3mg
Zinc1.6mg1mg1.2mg2.2mg
Selenium25.4𝜇g39.5𝜇g4.7𝜇g44.2𝜇g
Vitamin D0𝜇g1𝜇g0𝜇g1𝜇g
B Vitamins
Folate34.1𝜇g53𝜇g12.4𝜇g65.4𝜇g
Niacin3.6mg4.3mg2.6mg6.9mg
Riboflavin0.1mg0.2mg0mg0.2mg
Thiamine0.3mg1.5mg0.2mg1.7mg
B60.2mg0.6mg0.3mg0.9mg
B120𝜇g1𝜇g0𝜇g1𝜇g

Get your nutrients from whole foods as much as possible

Real food is what our bodies understand as the source of fuel and nutrients.  

Many traditional cultures offer an extensive range of postpartum recipes that have helped to nourish and heal mothers for centuries. These recipes are all based on foods’ natural healing powers and what’s available in season for the region. 

It is often believed that this is not only a time for the mother to rest and heal; it is also a time to reset the woman’s body to “correct” any imbalance she may have had before the pregnancy.

There are times when supplements may be needed; for example, when you cannot eat well, have digestive issues, or suffer other health challenges. 

A few concerns with supplements include risk of contamination, source of ingredients, and potential allergens; sometimes, the actual amount of nutrients present may be lower than listed or close to/above the Upper Tolerable Intake Levels (ULs).

Do choose your supplements carefully and always talk to your doctor. 

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