Diet and motherhood how can you still eat healthy 

Pregnancy and labour puts an enormous stress and strain on the body, it is therefore understandable new mums don’t always feel great.

Your hormones take you on a roller-coaster ride throughout pregnancy and post-birth. Then you have a beautiful baby who needs your attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s really no surprise you are exhausted!

Suddenly you are experiencing niggling health complaints you’ve never had (or heard of) before.

Common post-natal complaints many new mums experience include weight loss and body changes. As a new mum it’s really important to take care of yourself too.

Here are some simple tips to keep you feeling great as you navigate your way through motherhood.

  • Do your daily pelvic floor exercises – this will help prevent urinary incontinence and will help you for any future pregnancies too.
  • Strengthen your core – your core muscles can weaken during pregnancy. Now you are picking up and carrying a new baby, it’s important to strengthen your core to prevent injury to your back.
  • Continue to take a good multivitamin – it’s essential to ensure you are getting all the necessary nutrients to support your health and your baby’s health. A multivitamin will assist in increasing your energy, improving your mood and regulating your menstrual cycle.
  • Take a good fish oil supplement – omega 3 is essential for your baby’s development and will help you recover from birth and improve memory, mood and your menstrual cycle.
  • Try to take some time out for yourself – as hard as this is as a new mum it will do wonders for your mood and fatigue, all of which will help you be an even better mum.

Many new mums neglect their diet as they are tired and either don’t want to or don’t have the time to prepare meals.

Here are some tips for positive nutrition during the post-natal period.

Protein

At each meal you need a protein amount that can fit in, and is not thicker than, the palm of your hand. If you are breastfeeding, increase that by a ¼, if you are doing strenuous exercise you will also need to increase that by ½. For snacks, halve the amount.

Sources of protein include:

  • Nuts – raw, unsalted
  • Grains & seeds – a good source of plant proteins. Opt for whole grains such as wholemeal bread or wholemeal pasta
  • Legumes & pulses – lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, soya, tempeh
  • Fish – high in the essential fatty acid omega 3. Deep sea fish are the best option (mackerel, sardines, mullet, salmon, tailor, trevally). Avoid large fish due to mercury accumulation (tuna, shark, swordfish)
  • Chicken – choose free-range or organic where possible
  • Eggs – choose free-range or organic where possible. Do not consume more than two eggs per day
  • Red meat – eat in moderation
  • Dairy – limit cows milk products. Include a good quality natural yoghurt

Carbohydrates

Includes vegetables, fruits, grains and sugars.

  • Choose low GI carbohydrates - asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce mushrooms, onion, spinach, tomatoes, apples, apricot, berries, grapes, oranges, peaches, strawberries, pineapple, some melons
  • Moderate GI carbohydrates can be enjoyed but in smaller amounts – corn, carrot, peas, potato, squash, sweet potato, bananas, dates, figs, mango, papaya, wholegrain pasta, bread and cereal grains
  • Limit fruit to 2-3 serves per day
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates – white bread, white pasta, sugars

Fats

Add small amounts to every meal. They will help you feel full for longer and are essential for your cells, brain and regulation of blood sugar. 

  • For dressings – olive, flax, pumpkin, walnut, safflower (best not to heat these oils)
  • For cooking – coconut, sesame, olive (not too hot for olive oil)
  • Nuts & seeds – sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pepitas, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, nut butters, tahini
  • Avocado

Food Ideas:

  • Warm oats with chia seeds, apple, cinnamon and honey
  • Boiled eggs
  • Two egg omelet with capsicum, mushrooms, spanish onion and cherry tomatoes
  • Paleo muesli with yoghurt and fresh fruit
  • Smoothie with pea protein, frozen mixed berries, spinach, coconut water and almond milk
  • Wholemeal bread toasted with avocado, tomato, salt and pepper
  • Trail mix
  • Soup – pumpkin, chicken, lentil
  • Curry with chicken, lamb, fish, lentils or chickpeas
  • Slow cooked meals – lamb shoulder, pork loin, chicken thigh, dahl
  • Fresh fruit
  • Chicken cacciatore with baked potato
  • Spaghetti Bolognese with wholemeal pasta and lots of veggies
  • Ginger and tamari chicken or pork stir-fry with basmati rice
  • Baked fish with ginger and lime
  • Hummus with veggie sticks

Tips

  • Eat small meals regularly
  • Stay hydrated, water is your best option
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Put the slow cooker on in the morning, you often have more time and are less tired
  • Try fermented foods for added prebiotic and probiotic goodness

Prepare extra when cooking and freeze it down so you always have good food on hand.

 

Jillian Foster is a Sydney based Naturopath who works from her clinic in Woollahra. She has an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy and a Bachelor Health Science (Naturopathy). She specialises in fertility, pre-conception and pregnancy care.
 
In 2014 I was blessed with the birth of my son. I adopted the same practices I recommend to my clients to conceive, carry, birth and care for my son. I will never recommend treatment that I would not do myself or for my family.