First let me be honest with you about something: What you eat after you had a baby matters a HUGE amount because it not only impacts your own recovery and healing from pregnancy and birth but it also affects your baby.
The latter is true if you are breastfeeding of course (especially the micronutrient composition in your breastmilk is affected by what you eat) but also if your baby is formula-fed.
Why? Because if you are well, recovering smoothly, feel like you have positive energy and aren't in pain for weeks after giving birth, your baby will feel that and it will be much easier to create a strong bond with your new bundle.
The other thing I want to mention is that while there is no sure fire way to prevent postpartum depression -especially if you have a previous history with mental illness, if depression runs in your family, or if you are exposed to certain social, physical or biological risk factors- you CAN support yourself by making sure that you eat plenty of foods with certain nutrients that are known to frequently be deficient in women with PPD and postpartum anxiety.
So, mama, if you have a tendency to struggle with your mood, please, please, please make sure that you feed yourself well through food, but also through a really loving and supportive network.
(*Note: if you are diagnosed with PPD, please make an appointment with your physician and ask him or her to perform blood work for a FULL THYROID PANEL. Studies now show that women are sometimes prescribed antidepressant medications when in reality they have developed something called postpartum thyroiditis and/or Hashimoto's.)
The foods I am going to suggest to you in this article are also great to consume before and during your pregnancy, because, as you may imagine, the better nourished you enter new mamahood, the easier your recovery will be.
Please also know that I eat these foods in addition to taking my daily prenatal (for as long as I am nursing), an omega-3 supplement, a probiotic and a vitamin D supplement.
Alright, here are my favorite postpartum foods that I eat AND that I suggest (in more detail and with specific recipes) to the women in my Well Mama course.
1. Bone Broth.
Bone broth is full of incredible healing nutrients and especially collagen, which is key for connective tissue healing, skin health and even the health of your digestive tract. The collagen in bone broth is especially bioavailable and rich in different types of collagen giving you the best of the best. Collagen can also be found in whole fish soup and organ meats, and you can also choose to buy a collagen supplement (usually in powder form) to add to your smoothies, oatmeal, soups, stews etc.
Besides the fact that I love salmon, it is a rich source of Omega-3s which is key for reducing inflammation and aid proper healing. Numerous clinical studies have also shown that omega-3s combat depression as well as bi-polar disorder. Other great Omega-3 sources include mackerel, tuna (small amounts), herring, trout, sardines, fish roe, avocado, spirulina, olives, walnuts and other nuts and seeds, coconut oil and coconut butter. If you do eat fish, I always recommend sticking to wild caught, low toxin fish.
Eggs are not only rich in protein, but one large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc and choline. They are also so easy to prepare, which, in my books, is key when you are caring for one (or more) little one(s).
4. Leafy greens.
My favorite go-to's are spinach, kale, and collard greens or bok choy and asparagus. These leafy greens are not only rich in calcium and iron specifically, they also help your body detoxify properly and fend off constipation.
5. Brazil nuts.
Brazil nuts are not only super tasty they are also packed with selenium which is another nutrient that many women and especially postpartum mamas are deficient in. I love having these as a snack in the afternoon when I crave something crunchy.
6. Beans and lentils.
I always recommend to stick to easy to digest foods and warming foods for the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth. Warming foods are often more healing than a cold, raw salad and much easier to digest. Beans and lentils work great for that purpose in addition to being packed with folate which is important for mama and baby health.
I seriously cannot imagine a life without avocados. I am obsessed and to tell you the truth, I probably eat one whole avocado by myself almost every day. They are just so yummy while also being so great for your new mama health. They are rich in folate, potassium and healthy fats, which are key in keeping you full longer.
A single celled algea known to be a powerful blood purifier and liver detoxifier, it also cleanses breastmilk from dioxines (those nasty environmental pollutants we absorb from food, drinking from plastic bottles and household and body products). It's best to start with chlorella slowly because some people report an increase in stomach gas or upset. If you ust don't tolerate it well, you can also swap it for spirulina.
Did you know that your carbohydrate need is higher while breastfeeding than while pregnant? Personally I have noticed that if I reduce my carbohydrate intake, my breastmilk supply goes down.
That is why I make sure to eat enough healthy carbs. Oats are my go to because they are easy to add to my breakfast. I love making overnight oats or warm oatmeal in the morning depending on the temperature outside.
10. Anti-inflammatory Spices.
My personal go-to's are ginger, curcumin/turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, sage (*be careful with this one because it affects the milk supply in some women), and rosemary.
If you are currently a nursing mama, please also make sure that you drink enough water and consume enough calories.
It is completely normal to be more hungry while you are breastfeeding than even during pregnancy. You are burning up to 600 calories extra every day. Personally, while nursing both of my sons, I experienced an increase in appetite and I had to make sure that I ate enough in order for my blood-sugar (& mood;)) to stay stable and in order to maintain a good milk supply.
I hope you enjoyed this list :)
Make it yummy, mama.