Giving birth is an extraordinary experience, but once the endorphins wear off and you’re done counting all your newborn’s fingers and toes, there’s work to be done. Not only must you begin the process of healing your body but you’re also tasked with caring for an infant 24/7. Eating nutrient-dense foods is essential for these tasks, as it will help restore your nutrient levels, give you energy, boost your mental health, and if you choose to breastfeed, help you produce nutrient-rich breast milk.
A balanced diet for most new moms includes a variety of lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. However, some foods will give you more bang for your nutritional buck.
Danielle McAvoy MSPH, RD, Territory’s Senior Manager of Nutrition offers up five powerhouse foods to power up postpartum recovery.
Choline is not a nutrient you hear a lot about, but it’s an important one for new moms, and eggs are an excellent source. Choline plays a critical role in developing your baby’s brain, and if you’re breastfeeding you need 30% more choline than before you were pregnant. Eggs are also a good source of protein and the yolks contain Vitamin D.
Give spinach the green light
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with nutrients and are the richest plant sources of iron. Leafy greens are high in Vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Calcium is an especially important mineral for new moms. Babies need calcium for their growing bones, so a mother will draw calcium from her bone stores to provide for her developing baby.
Love the lentil
These tiny legumes are an excellent source of plant-based protein, iron, and fiber. New moms need extra protein to repair and rebuild damaged tissues. Iron is important for mom and baby’s thyroid and needs to be replenished after childbirth. Fiber is key to a healthy gut and can help with the common postpartum constipation.
Go for oats
Packed with fiber and a good source of iron, oats can help stabilize blood sugar and hormone levels, and alleviate postpartum constipation. A warm bowl of oats can also help heal a stressed gut.
Get hooked on salmon
One of the most nutritious foods on the planet, salmon is packed with omega-3s, which reduce inflammation and accelerate healing. DHA, the type of omega-3 found in salmon, is also critical for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. And when you’re confined to your couch nursing for what seems like hours on end and can’t get outside, salmon is one of the few food sources of Vitamin D, which reduces the risk of postpartum depression and supports a healthy immune system. Salmon also contains vitamin B12, which can help with energy production and keep you from feeling so tired all the time. Though it’s low in mercury, experts recommend eating no more than 2 servings of salmon per week.