It’s no secret that pregnancy is work. Each pregnancy requires so much from our bodies – physically, mentally, and emotionally – and it changes us in each of those areas, too. The physical changes and work done during and after pregnancy require just the right nutrients to healthfully grow those tiny beings. After that work is done, it’s then important to replenish our bodies in the postpartum period after giving birth.
The postpartum period I’m referring to is a minimum of eighteen months or up to 2-3 years post-birth (as recommended by the World Health Organization in regards to the recommended spacing between pregnancies). Yes, at least 18 months. Not the pitiful little 6 weeks our society says it takes to recover, but 18 months (or more, especially if you breastfeed for more than a year) for your body to regain its strength, replenish its nutrient stores, and be “recovered” (not the same – because it grew and birthed a human being – but restored and as prepared as possible to do so again). This recovery and replenishment requires that we treat our bodies well with nutrient-dense food, along with other habitual healthy lifestyle choices.
The following is a list of 10 of the healthiest foods you can eat to support your body in its postpartum period. These whole foods really are beneficial for everyone (allergies and sensitivities aside, of course) but are particularly helpful for us women who are in the postpartum recovery period.
Note: It’s best to have less caffeine, refined sugars, and alcohol during postpartum, as these foods/drinks can deplete nutrient stores if overused or if the body is otherwise unsupported. You can crowd out (as we lovingly approach nutritional changes in the health coaching world) less healthy foods with healthy foods and more water – slowly, steadily, practically, then habitually.
The key is to have the majority of our diet consist of whole foods. Of course, every one of us that has children knows that in those first several months in particular, you largely do what is easiest while you and your family adjust to having a new baby. There is grace for all of this! I just want to encourage you to do the best you can with what you have and know that you’ll feel best when you’re eating foods that support your health and well-being.
Without further ado and in no particular order, bon appetit!
Eggs are a complete protein (containing all nine essential amino acids) and provide healthy fat, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and K. Eggs are satiating, regularly incorporated into baked goods, and great to have for any meal.
Bananas are a great prebiotic food filled with a variety of vitamins and minerals. They’re easy to toss into a purse (or diaper bag) to eat on the go, and they’re even healthier (more digestible) combined with a healthy fat, such as nuts/seeds or a nut/seed butter. If you’re dealing with constipation in postpartum, however, I recommend you eat bananas sparingly or take a break from them until your digestion is healthy and regular again.
Bone broth is arguably one of the healthiest foods for anyone to consume, and its incredibly nutrient-dense status means its easily one of the best foods for moms during their postpartum phases. You can drink it all on its own, use it as the base for soups/stews/chilis, and cook many dishes with it.
Spinach, kale, arugula, collard greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, romaine, red and green leaf lettuce, butterhead lettuce, bib lettuce, even broccoli – these are the superfood superstars of vegetables. Leafy greens are chock full of immune-boosting minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, and fiber. Aim for a variety and try to think outside the box (aka salads) so that you can incorporate them each day. You’re really not going to overdo it on these guys.
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds in particular are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin E, and fiber. Nuts & seeds are a great snack – during the daytime and during those middle-of-the-night feedings. Good quality nut or seed butters totally count here, too – look for ingredients of just the nut/seed and maybe some salt.
and all other Healthy Fats
Our bodies need healthy fats, every day, and so do our growing babies’ bodies! Long gone are the silly fad days of fat-free “health” trends. We know better now. 🙂 Avocados, coconut oil, olives and olive oils, nuts, seeds, wild-caught fish, full-fat organic dairy (shoutout to real butter), grassfed meats, etc. Yum!
Filled with fiber, iron, and calcium, oats are a fantastic food for us postpartum mamas to eat. If you’re breastfeeding, oats are also among the top ten lactogenic foods so they’ll additionally support your milk supply. Try to avoid the individual packets, which are often filled with sugar and preservatives, and go for the healthier, more cost-effective large packages of old-fashioned oats.
Turmeric contains magnesium, fiber, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. It fights inflammation, which is precisely what’s gotten it so much “health trend buzz” in the past few years. It can be consumed a few different ways – added to dishes, stirred into drinks, and even taken solely as a supplement.
This delicious, fermented, sweetened tea helps to improve digestion, support the liver in detoxifying, and improve pancreatic function. Do note that kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol due to its fermentation, but less than 1% per bottle, so there’s no concern in regards to breastfeeding unless you are particularly sensitive or allergic.
(Real) Dark Chocolate
Yes! Enjoy some good quality dark chocolate – aim for at least 70% cocoa – and reap its benefits. Dark Chocolate is high in iron and other minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and zinc.