Postnatal Diet:  After Delivery Diet Food Items You Must Eat

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? 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. A postnatal diet is also essential for lactating mothers and breastfeeding babies. This article will discuss the importance of postnatal diet and what comprises a healthy & ideal postnatal diet plan.  

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 – 

  • ◾ 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. 
  • ◾ Certain superfoods can promote milk production if included in your diet. Read about Healthy Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supply
  • ◾  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. 

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. 

  • ◾ Green and leafy vegetables such as carrots, spinach, avocado, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers etc. 
  • ◾ Seasonal and fresh fruits like banana, mango, oranges, pomegranate, apples, etc.
  •  Whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, oats, brown rice etc. 
  • ◾  Low-fat dairy like yoghurt & milk. 
  • If you are a non-vegetarian, add low-fat proteins such as eggs & lean meats in your meal.      

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)

  • ◾ 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. 
  • ◾ Breastfeeding – Nutritional needs of exclusively breastfeeding moms are different from those who do not breastfeed or partially breastfeed. 
  • ◾ Dietary Choices – Diet plans for non-vegetarians, eggetarians, vegetarians and vegans will widely differ as their source of nutrition is different. 
  • ◾ 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. 

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Mid Meal Snack

½ - ¾ cup Oats

1 Katori vegetables

1 Katori daal

2 chapatis

Salad

Stir-fried lean cut of chicken 

Sauté veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper

Greek yoghurt

Or

Smoothie

Fruits rich in fibre, potassium & vitamins

2 Besan cheela

1 cup curd

½ cup sprouts

1 cup daal

½ cup rice

1 chapati

Salad

Roasted chana

Or

Khakhra

A glass of milk or a cup of yoghurt

2 Rawa idlis

1 cup sambhar

Salad

Mix daal khichdi

1 cup seasonal vegetables 

Popcorn

Or nuts

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. 

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 – 

  • ◾ Eat protein in adequate quantities.
  • ◾ Avoid sugar and carbohydrate loaded foods, as they can interfere with your insulin level and spike the sugar levels up.
  • ◾ Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • ◾ 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 on 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 any indigestion. You can also check out the list of anti-lactogenic foods in our article Healthy Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supply

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.

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