After giving birth, losing those pregnancy kilos might be on top of your to-do list. However, the most important thing to do for your body postpartum is to make sure it gets the necessary nutrients to help you keep up with the demands of the little one.
“As a new mom, you are recovering physically from labour and delivery, and adjusting to life with the new member in your family. All of this can leave you feeling cranky and fatigued. Taking a few steps in your diet and daily routine can help boost your energy levels and mood”, says Sue Scharf, dietician at NHC Health Centres (note to editors: please refer to company as indicated
Breast-milk contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs, no matter what you choose to eat. A poor diet is more likely to affect you than your breastfed baby.
Adopting a healthy diet, with nutrient-rich foods throughout the day will help maximize the little energy you probably have. Scharf recommends that new moms include foods that are rich in iron and protein in their daily diets. Your body needs regular, balanced meals and snacks to keep blood sugar levels stable: eat something small and balanced every 3-4 hours.
Here are some foods that will help you sustain your energy levels throughout the day:
- Lean beef – it is rich in iron and vitamin B-12. The body needs this B vitamin to make blood cells and maintain a healthy nervous system. A deficiency of iron can drain your energy levels, leaving you fatigued and feeling down.
- Legumes – beans, especially dark-coloured ones like kidney beans, are a great source of energy and protein. They are high in fibre and iron. They also improve the sustainability of meals and snacks.
- Blueberries – they are antioxidant-rich and filled with vitamins and minerals. They will give you a healthy dose of good carbohydrates to keep your energy levels high.
- Whole grains – incorporate healthy, whole-grain carbs like brown rice, whole wheat cereal and low GI breads in your diet to keep your energy levels up. Carbohydrates found in these grains, in controlled portions ensure that your energy levels are maintained the entire day.
- Oranges – a great source of energy, fibre and Vitamin C, this citrus fruit is full of natural slow-release sugar.
- Almonds – the best snacks for new moms. Almonds do not only elevate energy levels but metabolisms as well. They are also a good source of healthy fats and calcium. YET do not have more than 8 at a time, as even too much of a healthy fat can cause body-fat-weight gain.
“You might find it easier to just grab fast foods when you’re tired and in need of a quick energy boost, but try to resist the urge. If you are craving something with a lot of sugar, rather grab some dark chocolate (or fruit). It contains lower amounts of sugar, fat and less caffeine than coffee” says Scharf.
Dehydration is a major cause of energy drain, and moms who are breast-feeding are especially at risk. Make sure you drink at least eight cups of liquid every day. Water is the best source of hydration, but you can vary your options by drinking diluted pure fruit juice (dilute: 1/3 juice: 2/3 water) and low fat milk. Be careful not to drink too much coffee or tea, keep your intake low or switch to decaffeinated variants. Rooibos tea is caffeine-free.
Besides eating the right foods, you also need to make time to get some rest. Try to make sleep a priority – excessive fatigue is not due to just a lack of sleep, but also a lack of uninterrupted sleep.
“Taking care of an infant feels like a round-the-clock job, with little time left to yourself. However, it is important to also take care of yourself physically, to ensure that you do not burn out while adjusting to life with a new baby. Do some form of exercise that you really enjoy: skip on the spot, use a mini-trampoline, do some calisthenics with a video. This way, you will be feeling well enough to experience all the joy that comes with motherhood”, says Scharf.