Postpartum Care: Expert Tips on Nutrition and Fitness for New Moms

Life after birth is almost always centered around the baby, and the new mother often tends to put her own nutrition and well-being at a lower level. However, it should be noted that the health and well-being of the new mother will in fact boost the growth, well-being and immunity of the newborn as well.

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Therefore, it is of paramount importance to take care of the mother’s nutrition and eventually balance the physical state also in the daily routine.

Nutritional Dos and Don’ts:

Remember that breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and stamina on the part of the mother. Breast milk provides nutrients for the baby from the reserves of the mother’s body. Therefore, choosing low-calorie foods and restricting meals will not only make the mother nutrient deficient, but will also affect the supply of breast milk and, in turn, the growth of the baby.

Focus on including foods rich in calcium and protein in meals to help support breast milk production. Include legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains for plant-based protein. Add dairy products and dark green vegetables for calcium.

Pregnancy supplements are well taken and concentrated, but after childbirth there is often a slack in taking the same vitamins and medications by the new mother. Don’t think about suddenly stopping supplements and vitamins. Continue to stock up on iron, omega 3s, vitamin B12, and vitamin D3 during the nursing days postpartum to support the well-being of the nursing mother.

Hydration is essential for breast milk. Drink when thirsty, which is often intense during lactation. Drink more fluids if the urine appears to be on the darker yellow side, as this indicates dehydration. Postpartum hormones tend to fluctuate drastically and increasing your fluid intake can also help balance the same. Include coconut water, lemon-ginger tea, chia soups and drinks to add flavor and fun to your otherwise routine water intake.

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Never run out of carbohydrates! Postpartum it is very important to have energy not only to care for the baby but also for the healing of the postpartum body. Carbohydrates provide the body with that same energy and therefore should be included in every meal. Choose better carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and minimally processed beans.

While it’s tempting to imagine going back to your pre-pregnancy body, remember that your body spent nine months caring for and then giving birth to a baby. It is a wholesome and life-altering experience for the body, which needs the utmost care, rest, and time before you can resume exercise.

Do’s and Don’ts of Exercise:

Start slow and steady with light walking and stretching after your gynecologist gives you the go-ahead, which is usually after your 6-8 week postpartum checkup. This check-up will see the doctor check the healing of the stitches, if any, assess your general health and body stats along with discussing any health-related issues you may be facing.

Focus on back strengthening and pelvic floor exercises, as these muscles have been affected during pregnancy and childbirth. This will help relax the body and further develop it for any exercises one wishes to do.

Avoid starting directly with abdominal exercises in an attempt to get rid of the postpartum belly. Often the abdominal muscles actually need diastasis recti healing. Instead, intense abdominal exercises could worsen the condition and lead to more complications.

Learn to breathe properly during exercises. Correct breathing will not only help with better oxygenation and circulation in the body, speeding up postpartum healing, but it will also help with better muscle control and muscle toning.

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(The author is the founder of Therhappy. She is a pregnancy, childbirth and lactation specialist and a pelvic floor physical therapist.)

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