Food and Nutrition for New Moms
Good food and rest is very important for a mother just after the baby’s birth, and is helpful in postpartum recovery and quality of breast milk (which is also dependent on many other factors besides good nutrition, but food definitely is an important part).
The food should be very easy to digest and with no spices. Chilies and similar flavorings that can cause heartburn and acidity should be completely avoided to keep the mother’s and the newborns sensitive and delicate stomach from any digestive problems and discomfort. If the baby is formula fed, the same kind of food is advised for the mother in that case too.
Home cooked food should be preferred and food prepared in a clean and hygienic environment is extremely important.
Nursing mothers require extra calories in their food, and some extra omega 3 fatty acids / DHA for the baby’s brain and eye development. There are some limits to how many extra calories and proteins to consume, to keep weight gain in check.
Extra Calories per Day – 330 to 400 [ 2 ]
Extra Proteins Per Day – (Body weight in pounds X 0.59 + 25) grams [ 2 ]
Suggested Foods for new moms:
― Whole grain foods cooked until very soft (Fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and Minerals): Broken wheat, cream of wheat, brown rice (partially unpolished ones are easy to cook and have Vitamin B1 reserves along with other important nutrients).
― Legume beans (Vitamins, Minerals and proteins): only those which are easy to digest such as Lentils, pigeon peas and soybeans. Boiled kidney beans and chickpeas can be used in small quantities in salads.
― Vegetables and fruits (Vitamins and Minerals): All seasonal vegetables, crisp dark leafy greens, and fruits. Vegetables should be cooked completely until soft in cooking oil, used in soups or added to salads, and fruits should preferably be eaten rather than drinking juices and smoothies.
― Milk and Milk products (Calcium and Protein): Milk, curd and cottage cheese. Butter, rendered butter (saturated fat), processed cheese and like should be consumed sparingly.
― Omega 3 Fats: DHA in the mother’s body is used to develop the baby’s brain during pregnancy, so to cover up the losses in the mother’s body and to give enough DHA to the newborn, moms need to consume good amount of fish, fish oils or flaxseeds and breakfast cereals fortified with DHA.
― Non Vegetarian Foods: Eggs, chicken and fish are best for new moms. Avoid fish that tend to have traces of mercury – predator fish and shellfish. Salmon and Sablefish are good sources of DHA. Red meat, partially cooked meat, partially cooked eggs, and smoked meat should be avoided.
― Cooking oils – Rice bran oil, groundnut oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil and olive oil.
― Herbs, Spices and Seasonings: Oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, mint, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon are some herbs, spices and seasonings that add excellent flavor and nutrients to food. Excess intake of chilies and peppers should be avoided. A pinch of black or white pepper can be used though, which is known to aid digestion.
― Beverages: Caffeine intake should be limited to 200 to 300mg [ 2 ] Brewed coffee and energy drinks generally have highest caffeine content among beverages. Espresso coffee and light tea have comparatively low caffeine content, and a cup or two of the same would be fine.
― Water: Nursing mothers should consider drinking water more seriously, as their newborn’s water intake is entirely through breast milk. Consuming enough water is therefore important.
The above list contains almost all of the required nutrients for new moms.
Foods to avoid: Junk Food, Spicy food, foods with high caffeine content, saturated fats, trans fats, partially cooked meat, partially cooked eggs, smoked food.
Things to avoid completely: Alcohol, Smoking (including passive), drugs
1. Feed The Belly by Frances Largeman-Roth, RD
2. Expect The Best by Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
3. Wikipedia (Information on Fish containing mercury and on fish with good amounts of DHA)