Meet Charlotte. She just had her first baby and has fallen head over heels in love with this amazing and very new little person. However, being a new mom isn’t all cuddles and happy sighs, is it? She is worried that during pregnancy she gained too much weight. Before her baby was born, she envisioned her maternity leave filled with jogging with baby in the new jogging stroller, or doing weights while baby was sleeping, and so on. Now a week after giving birth, she feels overwhelmed – taking care of the baby takes all her time and energy… and she feels emotional, exhausted, and hungry all the time. What is a new mama to do?
1) Stop worrying about the weight… at least for now. Immediately after having a baby is not the time to start a new diet and exercise regime. Right now, the focus needs to be on recovering from labour and delivery, establishing breastfeeding, and getting to know the new wee one. Eating well is always a good idea, but any weight interventions can wait for now.
2) Eat. Caring for a new baby, especially if you have never done it before, is seemingly unending. Many mamas remember skimping on eating simply because they felt as if they didn’t have time to eat. No sooner does mama sit down to eat, than baby wakes up and wants to eat too. Remember, you need food to fuel yourself, not only for breastfeeding, but for being a mom. Letting yourself get over hungry doesn’t help anyone. Keep easy foods available – whole grain crackers and cheese, lower fat granola bars or muffins, trail mix, pre-chopped fruit and veggies. Remember that a healthy balance of carbs and proteins can help you feel full longer than filling up with refined carbs.
3) Drink. You need fluids – extra fluids for breastmilk production, to ease digestion and to keep your bowels moving easily, and to feel well. Staying hydrated keeps you feeling as fresh you can. Keep a water bottle with you.
4) Take your multivitamin. Whether you continue with a prenatal vitamin for a bit, or go directly to a regular multivitamin, keep up with the folic acid to support breastfeeding and to support any future pregnancies.
5) Get enough omega-3’s! Good for you and good for baby’s brain and eye development. Aim to eat fish twice weekly – some good sources of omega 3’s and low in mercury are salmon, Pollock, herring, rainbow trout, and canned light tuna.
6) Protect your bones! If a breastfeeding mama doesn’t take in at least 1000 mg of calcium daily, the body will steal it from the bones. Need ideas for high calcium foods beyond dairy products? Check out our previous blog – Got Milk?
When it comes right down to it, adjusting to having a new baby is both thrilling and difficult. It can take some time to figure each other out. Someone once told me, the years go fast but the days go slowly. Try to relax, enjoy the happy moments, lean on your support in the harder moments. Cuddle your newborn and one day sooner than you think, you’ll look down and see that you don’t have a newborn anymore.
Do you have nutrition questions? Sarah Robert is a Registered Dietitian, mom of 3, and owner of Simply Yours Nutrition. With a passion for helping people find realistic and practical nutrition solutions, she is an excellent resource for your family – whether you need a customized nutrition consultation, help with meal planning, or support with feeding your children. Check out her website at www.simplyyoursnutrition.com and “like” Simply Yours Nutrition on Facebook for free nutrition tips, information, and chances to ask your questions.
Dietitians of Canada. Lactation:Evidence Summary. In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 210-03-19. [cited 2012-09-04]. Available from http://www.pennutrition.com. Access only by subscription.