No matter how unhealthy our lifestyle is when we are younger, once we decide to start planning for a baby, we invariably adopt a healthier lifestyle and better food choices, don't we? When we become a parent, we go on a googling spree and look for health talk on postnatal diet and whatnot!
We eat healthy throughout the pregnancy to ensure that our baby's growth is not slowed or hampered in any possible way. And this needs to continue even after the child is born. Our food habits as Indians are slightly different than many other countries. So, when an Indian family moves to another country, and a child is born in warmer countries like Qatar, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain etc, it might be a challenge for a new mother to maintain the same diet and lifestyle in case of unavailability of ingredients.
A postnatal diet is also essential for lactating mothers and breastfeeding babies. This article will discuss the importance of a postnatal diet and what comprises a healthy & ideal postnatal diet plan. This article will also focus on simple ingredients and food items that ex-pat parents in middle eastern countries such as Qatar, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain etc can easily get and incorporate into their daily diet. This article is an end to your search for the best diet for postpartum recovery.
Why Is Postnatal Diet Important
Once you deliver a baby, your body undergoes many changes and is in the recuperation stage for at least 5 – 6 weeks. Postnatal diet or postpartum diet plays a significant role in this phase for the following reasons –1. A balanced postpartum diet can help you recover faster. If you have had a C-section delivery, your body needs even more nutrition to recover from the surgery.
2. Certain superfoods can promote milk production if included in your diet. Read about Healthy Foods to Increase Breastmilk Supply
3. Being a new mom is a 24/7 job and needs extra strength and stamina. A balanced after-delivery diet with proper nutrition can help with that.
4. Sometimes, breastfeeding mothers experience leaking breasts in the initial weeks and months. Keep a few pairs of Dry Feel Nursing Pads handy to avoid milk stains on your clothes.
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Best Postpartum Foods
An ideal postpartum diet is nothing considerably different from what a regular balanced meal plan would look like. However, the following MUST make it to your plate as a part of your postnatal meal.1. Green and leafy vegetables such as carrots, spinach, avocado, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers etc.
2. Seasonal and fresh fruits like banana, mango, oranges, pomegranate, apples, etc.
3. Whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, oats, brown rice etc.
Low-fat dairy like yoghurt & milk.
4. If you are a non-vegetarian, add low-fat proteins such as eggs & lean meats in your meal.
IMPORTANT NOTE – While breastfeeding in public, many new mothers prefer to cover up and nurse in public places. In hot and humid countries, it will be too uncomfortable for you and your baby to use a shawl or a stole that is less breathable. Go for Stole Style Nursing Cover made from 100% Modal fabric that can solve multiple purposes apart from being a nursing stole! Apart from these, there are some specific things you need to add to your post-delivery diet, which includes Iodine, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Choline.
What To Consider While Preparing Postnatal Diet Chart
It is essential to focus on healthy foods and a balanced meal while preparing a postnatal diet plan for yourself. Before deciding what goes into the diet chart and what stays out of it, keep the following in mind.(1)A. Lifestyle – If you have an active lifestyle and work out regularly, you want to continue after delivering the baby. The calorie requirement for you would be different from someone with a more sedentary lifestyle.
B. Breastfeeding – Nutritional needs of exclusively breastfeeding moms are different from those who do not breastfeed or partially breastfeed.
C. Dietary Choices – Diet plans for non-vegetarians, eggetarians, vegetarians and vegans will widely differ as their source of nutrition is different.
D. Availability - If you live in a region where the availability of seasonal produce is limited, your need for supplements or alternating foods that can fulfil those needs will differ too.
Sample Postnatal Diet Chart
If you have been eating healthy during your pregnancy or have consulted a nutrition expert, the chances are you will not have to make any significant changes in your diet plan. However, suppose you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes or any other condition with dietary restrictions.
In that case, it is advised to consult a nutrition expert to formulate a diet chart for your postnatal diet. Here is a sample diet for your reference. Please remember that this chart is only for reference, and every new mother has unique nutritional needs.
Mid Meal Snack
½ - ¾ cup Oats
1 Katori vegetables
1 Katori daal
Stir-fried lean cut of chicken
Sauté veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper
Fruits rich in fibre, potassium & vitamins
2 Besan cheela
1 cup curd
½ cup sprouts
1 cup daal
½ cup rice
A glass of milk or a cup of yoghurt
2 Rawa idlis
1 cup sambhar
Mix daal khichdi
1 cup seasonal vegetables
Postnatal Vitamins – Should You Take Them Or Avoid Them?
The prenatal vitamins that your gynecologists would have prescribed before conception and during the whole course of pregnancy would be a part of your post-pregnancy diet as well. This is essential for breastfeeding mothers. If you are not breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about discontinuing or adding vitamins to your postnatal diet plan.
IMPORTANT NOTE – Sometimes depression can also be triggered by additional work and your child falling sick or having health issues. Using Reusable Diapers can lead to fewer rashes and skin-related health issues.
Also, using a Laundry Detergent that is specially formulated for cloth diapers and kids' apparel can help reduce skin and health issues that can arise from using a chemical-loaded detergent.
Postpartum Diet – Effects On Hormones & Mental Health
Hormones and hormonal levels during pregnancy are different from what they usually are. And it takes a while to get the hormones adjusted and back to normal after delivery. In some cases, it takes up to a year to get the insulin, estrogenic and progesterone levels back to normal. So, foods that can help regulate these hormones are a must as part of a postnatal diet. Here are a few tips that can help you in this regard –1. Eat protein in adequate quantities.
2. Avoid sugar and carbohydrate loaded foods, as they can interfere with your insulin level and spike the sugar levels up.
3. Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
4. Avoid packaged and processed food.
70% of new moms experience baby blues, and one in seven women experience postpartum depression. You can read about Postpartum Depression Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment. Food can also play an essential role in helping you if you are experiencing baby blues or are diagnosed with postpartum depression. Consuming foods that are high in tryptophan and low in serotonin can help you. Speak to an expert to get a personalized diet plan if diagnosed with postpartum depression.
What To Avoid In Postpartum Diet
Many people believe that eating food loaded with sugar and ghee / clarified butter can help you gain strength and stamina and helps in milk production. This is a myth that you need to stay clear of. Instead, include sugar and ghee in your meal in a moderate amount and avoid deep-fried, excessively spicy food or raw foods that can cause indigestion. You can also check out the list of anti-lactogenic foods in our article Healthy Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supplyc.
A healthy diet combined with a good night's sleep, an active lifestyle, and postpartum exercises (Read about postpartum workout HERE) is the key to faster recovery and healthy life after childbirth.
Common Questions New Parents Ask
Q1 How much water should be a part of my postpartum diet?
While breastfeeding, you should consume around 10 – 12 glasses of water every day.
Q2 I am a mother of twins. Will my nutritional needs be different from singleton moms?
Exclusively breastfeeding moms need around 500 extra calories per child per day to fulfil their nutritional needs. However, consult a nutritionist to prepare the best meal plan to meet the needs of your baby and you.
Q3 Can I consume alcohol postpartum?
Keeping away from alcohol is the safest thing to do after a C-section or even after vaginal birth for at least 6 – 8 weeks. After that, if you decide to have a drink, stick to light drinking and avoid frequent drinking.