Following a healthy diet is very important during pregnancy. It is also important for new mothers to eat healthy after the baby is born. It will help you recover from labor and cope well with the new stress and pressure of motherhood.
A good diet is especially important if you are breastfeeding to ensure that your baby gets all the important nutrients required for proper growth and development. Plus, a balanced diet will help your body produce breast milk and replenish nutrients that you have lost for the benefit of your baby.
The length of time to breastfeed can vary. The American Association of Pediatrics suggests that babies be breastfed for a minimum of one year, while the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.
Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of developing asthma or allergies, respiratory illnesses, frequent ear infections, and other ailments. Plus, it will help you and your baby develop a bond.
To make sure you and your baby get all the nutrients you both need, include some superfoods in your diet during the postpartum period.
Here are the top 10 superfoods for new mothers.
Eggs are an excellent source of good quality protein with the ideal balance of amino acids. This will provide you strength and stamina to take care of yourself as well as your baby.
Egg yolks are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, an essential nutrient to keep your bones strong and help your baby’s bones grow. Plus, the choline in eggs is crucial for building the memory center of a baby’s brain.
Eat one to two eggs daily. You can have them scrambled, hard boiled or in an omelet.
Oatmeal is one of the most popular lactogenic foods. This natural whole-grain, high-fiber food is easily digestible. It is very useful for new mothers suffering from postnatal constipation, a very common condition.
Its high iron content also helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia, also very common in new mothers. Plus, oatmeal helps increase breast milk supply.
Freshly cooked oatmeal can be topped off with a spoonful of raw honey, cardamom, saffron or some fresh fruits to increase its nutritional value. A warm bowl of oatmeal will also help you relax and cope with stress.
Salmon is extremely good for new mothers due to its amazing nutritional value. It is a fatty fish containing a high amount of a fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA helps in the development of your newborn’s nervous system.
Salmon is also high in protein and vitamin B12. Plus, salmon has been found to help prevent postpartum depression.
Enjoy two main servings of salmon per week. Opt for wild salmon when possible and fresh rather than frozen.
4. Brown Rice
Healthy, whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice is something that all new mothers should include in their diet. Brown rice will help keep your energy level up and your blood sugar level consistent.
Plus, it has more fiber and other essential nutrients than white rice. It will also help increase breast milk supply and quality.
Before making brown rice, soak the grains for a few hours. This will make it easier to digest and more nutritious.
All new mothers should include blueberries in their diet. This antioxidant-rich fruit helps destroy free radicals and keep you and your baby free from many diseases.
Also, blueberries have all the important vitamins and minerals that a nursing mother needs. The healthy dose of carbohydrates in blueberries is also great for boosting energy.
Eat two or more servings of these juicy berries daily to help you cope with the new stress of motherhood.
All leafy green vegetables are good for nursing mothers, but spinach is one that deserves special mention. It is high in vitamin A, which is good for you and your baby.
Also, the folic acid in spinach helps produce new blood cells, especially important for women who experienced lots of blood loss during delivery. It helps boost milk production as well.
Spinach also has manganese that aids development of bone, cartilage and collagen, which is highly essential for mothers recovering from C-sections. It is also a good non-dairy source of calcium and contains vitamin C and iron.
You can eat fresh spinach in a salad or include it in vegetable soup. Another good option is to drink a glass of spinach juice daily.
Lactating mothers should include milk in their diet to stimulate breast milk production. Milk also contains vitamins D and B as well as protein, all essential nutrients for the overall development of newborn babies.
Plus, the calcium in milk helps replenish the calcium lost through breastfeeding. Due to its high water content, milk also keeps your body hydrated.
Drink two glasses of milk every day. To enhance the taste, you can add dry fruits to it. Also include yogurt, cheese and other dairy products in your diet.
Note: If your baby is diagnosed with milk protein intolerance, do not consume milk or other milk-based products.
Almonds provide a wide range of nutrients like vitamin E and essential fats that are important for the health of your body as well as your baby’s. The essential fatty acids including omega-3 fatty acids in almonds also help increase milk supply. These healthy nuts also provide protein and calcium for your bones and teeth.
Enjoy a few dry roasted almonds as a daily snack. To increase breast milk, soak four to six almonds in water overnight and eat them the next morning.
Fenugreek contains phytoestrogens that help increase breast milk production. It is also rich in iron, fiber, calcium and various vitamins and minerals. Plus, it contains choline and saponins that are required to ensure good development of newborn babies.
Fenugreek also helps alleviate digestive troubles like constipation and flatulence that are common among new mothers.
Both the seeds and leaves must be included in a nursing mother’s diet. One good option is to soak one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in one cup of water overnight. The next morning, boil the water along with the seeds for several minutes. Strain and drink it every morning.
Fennel is another excellent superfood for new mothers as it helps increase lactation and also aids digestion. It can also help prevent colic.
One good way to include fennel in your diet is to drink fennel water. To prepare fennel water, boil one or two teaspoons of fennel seeds in four cups of water and then let it simmer for another five minutes before turning off the heat. You can also add one-half teaspoon of sugar or honey for taste. Strain and drink this fennel water throughout the day.
You can also chew one teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals. In addition to increasing lactation and promoting digestion, it will also work as a natural mouth freshener.
Along with these superfoods, new mothers need to drink plenty of water. This is very essential as breastfeeding mothers are at higher risk for energy-draining dehydration.
To keep your energy level and milk production up, make sure you stay well hydrated by drinking water, fruit juices, vegetable juices and coconut water. Stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that can be dehydrating.