During pregnancy, women often focus on eating the right things, getting all the nutrients
they need, and living the right lifestyle to ensure that their growing baby gets everything they
need to be healthy. Mothers focus on nourishing themselves so that they can create the ideal
environment for their babies to grow and develop. However, after the baby is born there is
usually a drastic shift in focus from nourishing the mother to nourishing the baby exclusively.
Part of this is largely practical – new babies need a lot of care and attention. New moms are more
often than not however, denied the same thought and care. Too often in Western cultures the
focus is put entirely on making sure the new baby has everything they need without also focusing
on the needs of the new mom.
Here are 5 reasons why proper nutrition is important not only during pregnancy but after
childbirth as well:
Throughout pregnancy, there is an incredible demand placed on your body to provide all
of the vitamins and nutrients needed by your growing baby. Many women enter pregnancy
already lacking many of the vitamins and nutrients that their bodies need to function optimally,
so their nutrient stores are already sub-optimal going into pregnancy. Now, we all know that
babies in the womb rely on their mothers for the maternal transfer of nutrients. What might not
be as well-known however, is that regardless of your nutritional status, your baby will often find
a way to get these nutrients whether you have enough of this nutrient to go around or not. This
means that if your diet is lacking in calcium, for example, the fetus will pull calcium from your
bones in order to ensure that they get what they need. Even for women who have eaten a healthy
diet before and during pregnancy, they will often be left in a state of depletion after giving birth.
Going into the postpartum period in a state of nutritional depletion will make the sleepless nights
and long hours spent caring for baby even more trying, and puts you at risk for hormonal and
thyroid issues. Also, due to blood loss during childbirth, many women lose valuable stores of
iron. Making sure you’re eating iron-rich foods such as beef, pumpkin seeds, beans, and lentils
will help replenish your iron stores. Iron deficiency is a huge contributor to fatigue, and will
make the postpartum experience feel that much more exhausting.
Additionally, this transfer of nutrients doesn’t necessarily stop after pregnancy. If you
breastfeed your baby then you will be passing nutrients to your baby through your breastmilk.
This is one important reason why there needs to be an increased focus on nourishing mothers not
only during pregnancy, but also postpartum through proper nutrition and supplementation.
Focusing on proper nutrition will help ensure that you are not being depleted and are topping up
your levels of vitamins and minerals while you are passing these to your baby through your
After pregnancy, our bodies go through a huge hormonal shift. This shift from pregnancy
to postpartum can take a toll both emotionally and physically, but this process can be made
smoother with proper nutrition. Adequate nutrition is essential for proper hormone balance, so a
healthy postpartum diet is important not only for replenishing your own nutritional stores but
also for easing this hormonal transition. Eating healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, eggs,
and fatty fish will help regulate hormone production, as healthy fat is needed by the body for the
proper synthesis of hormones.
Adjusting to life with a newborn can be a wonderful time for a new mother, but can also
come with emotional ups and downs. This is often closely tied to hormone balance but can also
be associated with lack of sleep and simply adjusting to all the changes associated with
welcoming a new baby. These changes put stress on your body and are yet another reason to
focus on adequate nutrition. Proper nutrition is needed for the production of neurotransmitters –
including serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone). There are also many studies linking a deficiency
in Essential Fatty Acids to incidents of depression. A postpartum diet that is lacking in healthy
fats such as chia, hemp, flax seeds, walnuts, and wild salmon will adversely affect your mood.
After labour, your body undergoes major changes both structurally and otherwise to
readjust to life before carrying a baby. There is often a lot of healing that needs to take place
which causes an increased nutrient demand. Adequate dietary protein is needed for cell and
tissue repair as these are essentially used as building blocks for muscle and tissue, and help
regulate a lot of the body’s normal processes. Focus on organic protein such as eggs, meat, and
fish, as well as plant-based protein sources like beans and legumes.
A healthy postpartum diet is beneficial for new moms in so many ways – from supporting
proper hormone balance and mood to replenishing nutrient stores, and providing the energy
needed to care for a new baby. The postpartum period is a time when new moms need
nourishment and support, so that they can properly care for themselves and their new babies.
Focusing on healthy fats, whole foods, organic protein, and lots of fruits and vegetables will
provide the nutrients needed to thrive during this life-changing time.