Nourish Your Body
A mother's body has undergone many changes during pregnancy, as well as with the birth of her baby. She needs to heal and recover from pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to rest, all mothers need to maintain a healthy diet to promote healing and recovery.
The weight gained in pregnancy helps build stores for your recovery and for breastfeeding. After delivery, all mothers need to eat well so that they can be healthy and active and able to care for their baby. Whether they breastfeed or formula feed, all mothers need to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Most lactation experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers should eat when they are hungry. But many mothers may be so tired or busy that food gets forgotten. So, it is essential to plan simple and healthy meals that include choices from all of the recommended groups, especially macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
Consider foods from these categories, emphasizing the food intake that nourishes the body and mind:
Grains. Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Vegetables. Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
Fruits. Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
Dairy. Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
Protein. Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine--choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
"Play Foods" (***Monica - I changed from desserts, but feel free to switch back if you think that works better! :)) Incorporating those foods you love and enjoy (that may not fit in the above categories) is important to the pleasurable aspect of eating and nourishing your body. So whether you are craving ice cream, dark chocolate, a fresh baked cookie or some of your favorite chips, know there is a place for every food in your daily diet. Keep in mind that food and the eating experience should be both nourishing and pleasurable, and completely restricting foods you crave and enjoy can set you up for binging in the long run. Honor your body's cravings and incorporate your favorite "play foods" into your meals/snacks as part of a balanced meal. Check in with your body and listen to your hunger/fullness levels to determine what is an appropriate amount to eat.
Although most mothers want to lose their pregnancy weight, extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can be hazardous to your health and to your baby's if you are breastfeeding. It can take several months for a mother to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy. This can be accomplished by concentrating on a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, balanced with proteins and carbohydrates.
Along with balanced meals, breastfeeding mothers should also increase fluids. Many mothers find they become very thirsty while the baby is nursing. Water, milk, and fruit juices are excellent choices. It is helpful to keep a pitcher of water and even some healthy snacks beside your bed or breastfeeding chair.
Consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if you want to learn more about postpartum nutrition. Certified lactation consultants can also help with advice about nutrition while breastfeeding.