Being a new mom is both wonderful and difficult! All of a sudden you have an immense amount of responsibility, exhaustion, and love. It’s easy to get immersed in caring for your new baby, and neglect your own needs. However, proper nourishment is essential postpartum, and even more so if you are breastfeeding. With a little intentionality (and help) you can change from being overwhelmed with nutrition to confidence. Here are my top 5 nutrition tips for new moms!
#1 Be patient with your body.
Body changes happen in pregnancy and postpartum. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to “bounce back” after baby. It doesn’t happen like that, and you aren’t doing anything wrong if it doesn’t feel that way for you.
Be patient with your body. It is meant to change over time. Although these changes can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable, try to accept them and allow your body to change as it needs to in its own time.
Jumping into a new restrictive diet to lose your “baby weight” will likely cause stress, guilt, improper nourishment, and will eventually fail you. Instead of having appearance-based goals, ask yourself “how can I care for my body?”. Reframing your mindset to caring, instead of changing, will help you respect your body’s needs for nourishment and joyful movement.
#2 Listen to your hunger.
Some women feel even more hungry postpartum, especially if breastfeeding. Hunger is a normal biological response to the need for food! It’s a sign that you need nourishment, and honoring your body’s needs is important.
When you’re busy and tired it can be difficult to respond to your body’s needs right away when you become hungry. However, food provides energy. Eating enough is required for your body to function well, replenish stores postpartum, and produce milk. Doing your best to tune in and listen to your needs can be helpful in ensuring you are well-nourished. Try keeping quick meals and snacks available and near you when hunger strikes.
#3 Focus on nourishment.
Nourishing your body every few hours is helpful in providing yourself with enough energy and nutrients. Some may thrive with three meals and others may need snacks in between as well. Again, listen to your hunger.
At meals, strive for nutrient-dense, quality foods coming from the main food groups: protein, fat, fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy. It’s okay if you may not have all the food groups represented at each meal. Try for at least three to vary nutrient intake and satisfy needs. Pairing protein, fat, and carbohydrates at meals and snacks provide satisfying and sustained energy for your day. Lastly, don’t forget to add fun to your meals, to eat the food you enjoy, and not worry about being perfect!
#4 Help yourself with simple planning and prep.
Spend a little time to map out a plan for your nutrition needs, meals for the week, and what prep may be needed. Be flexible and realistic. This might mean planning to cook meals just three times per week, and planning to eat leftovers or dine out on other nights.
Create a list of meals and snacks you know you can make quickly, and have these foods on hand. Batch cook veggies, meats, and grains to eat throughout the week or freeze for later. Consider making ahead crockpot freezer meals, or making a double batch of a recipe to freeze. Keep quick snacks like fruits, hummus, yogurt, guacamole, fresh veggies, and cheese (and other options you love) on hand. You can make meals out of foods like this with little prep. You do not have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals on Sunday. Even just 15 minutes can help set you up well for the week.
#5 Ask for help, delegate, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Don’t feel ashamed about not being able to do it all. In many countries and cultures, the woman’s mother lives with the family for weeks to months to assist the new mom. You’re not a bad mom for needing help!
Ask others to help you with specific needs, such as making meals, cleaning, grocery shopping, giving you a break, or even just someone to talk with. Talk with your partner about how you might split duties or create a schedule so you have time to help make meals. You might consider ordering ready-made meals to be delivered, too.
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s no such thing as perfect, especially when it comes to nutrition.
If you feel you need support and guidance in regards to nutrition, seek out a registered dietitian to help you!
Katie is a registered dietitian, wife, and toddler mom specializing in maternal and family nutrition. With degrees in both nutrition and exercise, she seeks to support moms in simplifying nutrition, building body confidence, and finding joy in the kitchen using a non-diet, intuitive approach to nutrition and health. She owns a private practice and also works as employee wellness and school health coordinator for a school system where she lives in Tennessee with her husband, son, and two dogs. She loves hiking, ice cream, and sweet toddler kisses.