Preparing For A Positive Postpartum
Postpartum can be thought of as the fourth trimester, and requires a similar level of planning and preparation as pregnancy due to it being a time of great physical and emotional change. Pregnancy places a large toll on a woman’s body, therefore supporting this transitional phase will help to prevent postpartum depletion.
Optimise Nutritional Status
Optimising nutritional status before and during pregnancy is the first step to avoiding postpartum depletion. Our body’s need adequate amounts of iron, folate, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, iodine and vitamin B12 during pregnancy to support the healthy growth and development of the baby, as well as supporting the mother through a healthy pregnancy. Nutrient requirements for many of these nutrients increase during the fourth trimester, particularly if breastfeeding, and deficiencies in many of these nutrients are strongly linked with postpartum depression. Continuing to take a practitioner-grade pre-natal supplement throughout the fourth trimester supports the mother’s recovery and increased nutrient needs.
Find Your Support Network
The fourth trimester can be a physically and emotionally challenging time, as you find your rhythm and settle into a routine. Having a support network can help to ease you into this period and lighten the load. Consider a meal delivery service or a meal train for the first few weeks post-birth. In the weeks leading up to birth, consider batch cooking and stocking your freezer with leftovers and pre-made meals to have on hand once your baby is born. Many women also benefit from a professional support team made up of healthcare practitioners to support their needs. This may include a midwife, naturopath, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, psychologist, pelvic floor physiotherapist etc.
Nourish Your Body
While there is a lot of focus on nourishing your body through pregnancy, the postpartum period is often neglected. Changing nutritional needs, alongside ‘baby brain’, poor sleep, hair loss and other symptoms associated with the postpartum period mean that additional nutritional support is necessary.
My top tips for nourishing your postpartum body include:
- Eat small amounts regularly to stabilise blood sugar levels to support energy production
- Ensure each meal contains a source of protein (meat, chicken eggs, beans, lentils) + complex carbohydrates (oats, legumes, vegetables) + a healthy fat (avocado, nuts & seeds, coconut oil). Protein needs increase by 5-10g per day when breastfeeding, and healthy fats are important to stabilise blood sugar levels (ie reduce energy crashes!) and support emotional stability
- Focus on warm, slow cooked and easily digested foods such as soups, stews, casseroles, bone broths, slow cooked meats
- Aim to drink 3L water daily, particularly important if breastfeeding as breastmilk is composed largely of water, and breastfeeding women lose on average 700ml water per day
- Include iron rich foods as pregnancy can deplete maternal iron stores. Rich sources of iron include organic liver, red meat, parsley, spinach, dried apricots & oats
- One handed snacks are a must for breastfeeding mothers! Nutrient dense snack ideas include protein balls, boiled eggs, smoothie, handful of nuts & dates stuffed with nut butter
Your postpartum pantry shopping list:
Quinoa – quinoa is a complete protein and can be made in large batches and kept in the fridge to add to meals
Nut butter – a good source of protein, nut butter is energy dense and satiating – perfect for breastfeeding mamas!
Coconut water – a good source of electrolytes coconut water is a good source of hydration
Ghee – rich in fat soluble vitamins, ghee is a traditional Ayuverdic food used to nourish new mothers. Ghee can be used in place of oil for cooking
Pate – a true super food, pate is a rich source of iron and fat soluble vitamins that are important for new mothers
Nursing Mama Tea
Halsa has its own beautiful range of herbal tea blended for a range of different health concerns. The Nursing Mama Tea is created with aromatic galactagogues to support the production and stimulation of breast milk by increasing the hormone prolactin. The sweet taste of licorice and heart opening properties of rose make this a particularly enjoyable tea for breastfeeding mamas.
Alice is a degree qualified naturopath with a focus on women’s hormone health throughout the lifespan.
Learn more about Alice here
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