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It is essential that new mothers pay just as much attention to their health in the postpartum period as they did during pregnancy. Eating well and getting sufficient rest is important to ensure that you regain your strength after the birth of your baby. This is not the time to worry about losing your pregnancy weight and you should instead focus on eating nutritious food.
Why is it Important to Eat the Right Food After Delivery?
Eating the right foods can help you cope with the umpteen transformations that have occurred in your body over the last nine months. It will help your body to heal itself from the wear and tear and will help you regain your strength and energy after the birth of your baby. Only then will you be able to look after your baby well. If you are breastfeeding, eating healthy becomes more important because what you eat will be passed on to your baby through your milk.
Foods to Include in a Post Pregnancy Diet
When planning your meals during the breastfeeding phase, ensure that you are including a variety of foods with just the right amount of calories and fat. You should make it a point to include items from the five main food categories in all your meals. The five categories are:
Wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and other cereal grains come under this category. Whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal are some items to include in your daily diet. Khichdi, pulao, paranthas, and chappatis are some of the items you can choose from. One food to consider is whole-wheat bread. It is rich in folic acid, something your baby needs to develop well in the first few months. In addition, it also has iron which guards against anaemia and fibre which ensures your digestive system remains healthy.
All kinds of vegetables should figure in your daily diet. Alternate between red, dark green, and orange coloured vegetables as well as legumes such as peas and beans. You can add fenugreek seeds to your vegetable recipes to make them extra nutritious. A food which helps lactation, and also helps in weight-loss, fenugreek seeds also impart a unique flavour to food.
There is no specific type of fruits to eat after delivery, so be sure to include all in your diet. You can opt for fresh, canned, or dried fruits. Try purees and juices when bored of eating them whole or cut up.
Make milk and milk products an integral part of your daily postnatal diet. If you are worried about the calories, go in for fat-free and low-fat products like buttermilk, and yoghurt.
Fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans are rich sources of protein and make sure to include at least one of these in meals and snacks. Lean meats and poultry are good choices too.
It is also important to consume copious amounts of water to prevent dehydration and keep up your milk supply. Water also helps keep your energy levels up. Fruit juices and milk can be chosen instead of water for some variation.
It is best to eat food that is easy to digest such as soups, stews, porridge, and juices because this is what the baby will also have to digest when you are breastfeeding. Dairy products, dried fruits, and nuts are helpful in producing breast milk while spicy food is best avoided when breastfeeding.
Due to the healing properties of turmeric, you should try adding it to as many meals as possible. A warm glass of milk with some turmeric stirred into it is considered extremely beneficial and is part of the recommended postnatal diet for Indian mothers. It is also important for you as a new mother to increase your daily intake of fluids as you can become extremely thirsty while nursing your child.
Post Delivery Diet Tips
It is a fact that the quality of breast milk does not change irrespective of what you eat. But if you are not eating nutritious foods, then your body will draw on your reserves of these nutrients to make up for the deficit.
Here are a few tips to ensure a healthy diet:
- Do not avoid fats: Especially ensure you consume omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in fish and can help baby’s brain and eye development. But be sure to restrict yourself to two servings of fish per week owing to the danger of mercury toxins found in fish.
- Proteins are important: Increase the amount of protein you eat, as it makes you feel fuller for longer periods of time and also regulates blood sugar.
- Healthy snacking: Snacking regularly on healthy options like nuts and fruit ensures you don’t binge-eat.
- Store: Making large portions of healthy food and freezing it ensures that you have a healthy meal option even if you don’t have time to cook.
- Hydrate: Thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger, and may lead you to eat extra. Drinking extra water makes sure you are less fatigued and hungry.
What Should be Avoided in an ‘After-Delivery’ Diet?
Breastfeeding is an essential part of the mother and child bonding. It is also the best way to nurture this bond. Making a list of foods to include in your daily diet, and compiling a list of items to avoid can stand you in good stead. Here’s a list of foods to steer clear of especially while breastfeeding:
The pungent smell of garlic is not an appealing one and it is the same with the taste. So, your baby may refuse to feed if he or she doesn’t like the smell of garlic in the breast milk.
- Citrus Fruits
If your baby has been spitting up or has some sort of diaper rash, it may be due to your intake of citrus foods. Citrus foods can irritate your baby’s GI (gastrointestinal) tract which is still immature.
Caffeine in your hot cup of coffee can lead your baby to turn irritable and lead to sleeplessness also.
A lot of contrasting opinions exist about alcohol consumption during breastfeeding. However, it has been proven that if you drink alcohol, it can lead to drowsiness, weakness, and unusual weight gain in the baby. Alcohol can also bring down your supply of breast milk significantly.
Since peanuts are known to cause plenty of allergic reactions, it is best to exclude this item from your diet plan.
This can have an effect on your baby similar to how it is with caffeine. Try and avoid chocolates for a while to prevent over-stimulation of your child.
Too much spice is never a good thing and more so when you are a nursing mom. Eating spicy food can have an adverse impact on your baby’s intestines and the bloodstream.
- Oily, Gassy Food
As a new mother, you should stay away from oily food that only leads to fat accumulation in your body. The same goes for gassy foods like cereals that are ‘heavy to digest’.
- Fried Snack and Fizzy Drinks
Staying away from fried snacks and fizzy sodas is a step in the right direction when you are a new mother who is breastfeeding.
Besides eating a healthy and nutritious diet, it is important to come up with an exercise regimen that suits your pace. This will also ensure that even if you do not lose all your pregnancy weight in a jiffy, you will certainly not gain any excess weight.
Disclaimer: This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.