New Mum; top tips to look after yourself nutritionally

Guest Blog Post by Ruth Harvey from Pod&Pea Nutrition

Ruth can help with your nutrition whatever stage you, or your baby, are at: whether you’re trying to have a baby, you’re currently growing a baby, you’ve just had a baby, your baby is now weaning, or your baby is now a fussy eater.  She can help – being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with over 10 years’ experience in the NHS, research and private practice.  Ruth offers one-to-one private appointments, and regularly hosts group workshops (keep an eye on her page).  Our favourite is the weaning workshop.  Read more about it here.

Ruth also offers our lovely readers a 10% Little Devon discount.

New Mum; top tips to look after yourself nutritionally

Nutrition for Mums with newborn babies often falls by the wayside.  Between feeding, getting baby to sleep and changing nappies you can feel tied to the baby for the first few months and it can be hard to prepare nutritious meals with no hands free!  But it’s so important to look after yourself and give yourself time to eat.

Key nutrients you need after giving birth:

  • Calcium – our own calcium stores get used for baby when they are in the womb and if you are breastfeeding even more calcium will be needed (breastfeeding Mums need 1250mg of calcium per day – that’s equivalent to a litre of cow’s milk).
    • Sources: dairy, chickpeas, calcium-set tofu, kale, fortified plant-milks
  • Protein – after the birth you are healing and protein is important in this process
    • Sources: meat, fish, beans, pulses, tofu, dairy, Quorn
  • Iron – during pregnancy the baby relies on much of Mums iron stores to create their own.  During and after the birth we lose more iron through bleeding.  The 4th trimester is a key time to build those stores back up and avoid feeling extra tired due to low iron.
    • Sources: dried figs, dried apricots, raisins, kale, tofu, red meat, fortified breakfast cereals
  • Omega 3s – look after your brain and help protect your mental health by including sources of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet
    • Sources: oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines), chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, plus cook with rapeseed oil
  • Vitamin D – especially important if you have a winter baby
    • Sources: there are few food sources, so take a supplement 10micrograms per day

Tops tips for getting these nutrients in:

  1. If you can’t put baby down because they are windy or grizzly the first thing you need to do is get a sling!  Life-saving!  You’ll be able to use both hands and prepare some food.  Just please don’t wear baby when cooking a meal on the hob and pouring boiling water.
  2. Ask friends to bring a meal not a present when they call – something you can divide up and put in the freezer is ideal.
  3. Eat regular meals.  Don’t leave more than 4 hours between eating and if you aren’t able to prepare a meal, use nutritious snacks e.g.
    • peanut butter, humus, tuna mayo, cream cheese or avocado on toast, crumpets or rice cakes
    • yoghurt with granola with added seeds and chopped fruit
    • shop bought soup and bread
    • beans on toast
    • dried fruit such as raisins, apricots and figs – include a small handful on your cereal or eat them with nuts
    • chopped vegetables and breadsticks with dip
    • smoothie – try adding oats, spinach, yoghurt, milk and your favourite fruits (frozen fruit is ideal for this).
    • try preparing a batch of energy balls or savoury muffins like the ones on my website.
  4. Consider taking a post-natal supplement especially if you have a limited intake of meat and dairy and aren’t able to meet your calcium, B12, iodine and iron requirements through diet alone.
  5. You deserve a slice of cake or some chocolate when you want it, but try to avoid snacking on high sugar foods instead of eating meals.  These foods won’t provide you with long-lasting energy and are low in nutrients.
  6. Don’t forget to drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids to keep well hydrated.

Ruth Harvey is a registered dietitian and owner of Pod&Pea Nutrition, offering group workshops and individual consultations for nutrition during and after pregnancy, weaning and fussy eating.  For more information go to www.podandpeanutrition.org

Little Devon readers are also lucky enough to be able to receive a 10% discount too – just mention Little Devon.

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