Eating healthily will speed up your recovery from labour and birth and give you the energy you need to keep up with the demands of being a new parent. Consultant dietitian Sarah Keogh dishes up the best foods for new mums.
There is no end to the information available on what to eat during pregnancy. We know what to avoid, what to add in and all the advice we did and didn’t want for the whole nine months!
Now that the baby has arrived, it is like mum has been forgotten about altogether and the only thing we hear about is what the baby needs.
Let’s face it, we do worry more about feeding our babies than we ever did about our own diets, but that doesn’t mean you should just ignore your needs and think you will have the energy to cope with all that is in front of you. We take a look at some of the key foods for mums to eat – whether you are breast or bottle-feeding as well as some of the quick snacks that will give you a nutrient boost while you are up to your ears in nappies, relatives and the never-ending pile of washing.
What do I need to eat?
Let’s face it, most of us get to the end of our pregnancies with more weight than we ever wanted to see, but this is really not the time to start crash dieting. You are going to have a lot of sleepless nights and busy days and you will need all of the energy you can get. Getting some good nutrition will help keep your energy levels up and will start your weight heading in the right direction, so leave the crash diets for those with no kids!
Breastfeeding mums have the additional issue of eating for two even after they have had the baby. Following the healthy eating guidelines will help you to get everything you need but do focus in on some of the superfoods below.
Many mums become low in iron during pregnancy, but loss of blood at the birth, especially if you have a Caesarean can also take its toll. Being low in iron will leave you feeling extra tired as well as run down and irritable. Stave this off by choosing red meat like beef or lamb at least three times a week.
Chicken and turkey legs have more iron than the breast, so they are also good options. Chickpeas and red lentils are excellent sources of iron and other beans and eggs are good to include. You need iron-rich foods every day – and don’t be afraid to have them twice a day.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones, for you and for your breastfed baby. Dairy foods like milk, yoghurt and hard (not soft) cheese are all good sources. You need three servings of milk, cheese or yoghurt every day to get the right amount. Breastfeeding mums need five servings. If you avoid dairy, do speak to your dietitian about a calcium supplement. You will pick up some calcium from green vegetables, tinned sardines, sesame seeds and fortified soya milk but it may not be enough, especially for breastfeeding mums.
Many women have problems with constipation at the end of their pregnancy, but this can persist for a few weeks or months afterwards as well. A sluggish digestion will affect your energy levels as well. Not only are seeds rich in fibre they are also packed with vitamins and minerals making them a great topping for cereals, yoghurt and salads or as a snack in between meals.
Do make sure you look after yourself, so that you can look after your precious new bundle.
More like this:
Eating for two
Three food rules for new mums
Cut the crap and embrace healthy eating