Your prenatal meal plan supported your changing needs and the baby’s growth. Post-birth, your nutritional needs will be to:
- heal and repair muscles and connective tissues
- support emotions
- sustain energy
If you are breastfeeding, you will have some additional nutritional needs. Also, your body burns between 200 to 500 extra calories a day when you breastfeed. In a well-nourished mother of healthy weight that had a successful birth, a nutritionally balanced diet and the fat deposited during pregnancy are usually sufficient to meet the needs.
You should focus now on having nutrient-dense foods, meaning foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds for the energy they provide.
A 2020 study concluded that there is a relationship between a good nutrition pattern and the healing of perineal wounds. It suggests that a diet with ample calories and high in protein, vitamins, and minerals in the puerperium mother will accelerate new cell regeneration so that the puerperal perineal wound heals faster.
Here are some nutrients that are particularly important in your healing journey:
Your Protein & Collagen
Protein is the building block of every cell in the body, and collagen is a protein that is in every part of your skin, muscles, fascia, and joints. Protein and collagen are essential to your healing.
Good protein sources are eggs, lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and seeds. When you can, go for organic, free-range, or grass-fed options to minimize exposures to unwanted substances.
Be extra careful with your choices of fish and seafood. While fish and seafood are very nutritious, many contain some mercury that may have adverse effects on the brain and nervous system for both the mother and the baby. Learn more from FDA’s Advice About Eating Fish.
To help boost collagen production in the body, make sure you include vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables in the meal.
Food fats vs. Bad Fat
Not all fats are created equally.
Food fats are not only essential to have healthy cells, it is also vital for your emotional well-being and fat-soluble vitamins. Good fat sources are fish (yes, again), olive oil, avocado, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, grass-fed meat, and dairy.
You will still find a lot of sources recommending low-fat dairy. More and more evidence suggests that milk fat may be good for you. Besides, whole milk is also a rich source of protein and many other nutrients.
Trans fat, on the other hand, is what you want to stay away from. Trans fat intake during pregnancy and early postpartum has been found to have an adverse effect on the mother’s long-term health. It contributes to postpartum weight retentions for the mother and future childhood overweight/obesity for the baby.
Foods you want to stay away from including fried foods, pre-packed baked goods and pastries, shortenings, frozen dough (pizza, roll, cookie, etc.), non-dairy creamer, and some vegetable oil and margarine.
Choose anti-inflammatory foods
In other words, choose whole fruits, grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds on top of your choice proteins. These foods will provide you with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed for your healing. Avoid processed foods and foods with added super or overly seasoned.
In so many ways, science is helping us to re-understand traditional postpartum care in many cultures around the world. New mothers are served broth and soup made with locally grown poultry or meat and dishes made especially for them in many of these. We now understand the value of these whole and minimally processed foods.
Many of these practices are also derived from what the regions have to offer locally. Learn more about these and how we can benefit from them in today’s context; check out our e-book Tea for Two: Postnatal Confinement Tea Collection