5 Pillars of Postpartum Nutrition

By Lizzy. Swick, RDN
April 8, 2022

The food a woman eats during and after pregnancy not only nourishes her developing baby but also supports her changing body and promotes healing after delivery. I'm Lizzy Swick, a registered dietitian who specializes in pre-and-postpartum nutrition and I worked with Hannah Bronfman to develop the menu for her Meals for Mama program. Hannah understands firsthand how important it is to get the right nutrients from real food for both moms' and babies’ well-being. Our postpartum nutrition philosophy is based on the following key principles:

1. No Extremes

Your body has been through A LOT  in the past nine months. This is not the time to eliminate important foods or entire food groups from your diet. You want balanced meals with plenty of protein, fat, and carbs to help your body heal and sustain the energy you need to take care of your baby while nourishing yourself. While all the Meals for Mama are gluten and dairy-free, some moms may want to include wholesome dairy foods like yogurt or cottage cheese and whole-wheat grains like farro or barley in their diets. These foods have valuable nutrients and minerals necessary for postpartum healing.  

2. Nutrient-Rich, Real Mostly Plant Foods

Whole foods help moms heal from the inside out. Research shows that a plant-forward, anti-inflammatory diet that includes a variety of foods is best. Animal protein is highly nutrient-dense and can play a vital role in recovery, but most of those nutrients can also be found in plant foods.

3. Abundant

New moms need to eat every two to four hours during the fourth trimester in order to get the nutrients required for healing. Smaller meals may be helpful early on, but after a few days, larger meals with ample calories are necessary to support recovery and milk supply. Remember, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re still eating for two. 

4. Easy to Digest

Postpartum meals should ease the physiological resources needed for digestion, so your body can focus on milk production and recovery.  New moms should eat mostly warming foods, like well-cooked meats, broths, stews, soups, and cooked fruits and vegetables.

5. Pleasurable

Eating should always be enjoyable, regardless of if or when you’ve had a baby. Every meal should be an appealing combination of flavors, textures, and colors. Our bodies are more than birthing and feeding machines requiring fuel. Pleasure is as important to your well-being as nutrition and exercise.

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