Expert / 15 February, 2017 / Clare Daley
In the weeks after welcoming your bundle of joy into the world, you may find yourself eager to lose your pregnancy weight and fit back into your pre-maternity jeans, sharpish. However, it’s important to remember the incredible journey your body has been through and the changes you may see and feel once you’ve given birth. Initially, your focus should be on supporting your body’s recovery from the pregnancy, as well as supporting your energy levels and mood. It may be that you are breastfeeding as well, in which case you will need to consider ‘nutrition for two’.
Nutritional strategies that may be particularly important in supporting energy levels and mood include overall diet, B vitamins, vitamin D and omega-3s. The first few weeks and months of motherhood can feel overwhelming so it’s important to find time to look after yourself, as well as your beautiful new baby. Postpartum depression is the most prevalent mood disorder associated with childbirth. No single cause of this has been identified, however the increased risk of nutritional deficiencies incurred through the high nutritional requirements of pregnancy may play a role in the onset of depressive symptoms.
Sleepless nights can make reaching for sugary snacks a temptation. However, these will give you a quick burst of energy and then leave you feeling more drained than before. To help with energy levels try these tips:
Supplements to consider
Even with a balanced diet it can be difficult to obtain optimal levels of all the nutrients needed for health, due to what we call the Nutrition Gap. The Nutrition Gap describes the difference between the level of nutrients the average person is obtaining from a reasonable Western diet, and the levels that may be needed for health. Nutrient shortfalls are caused by a number of different factors, including our food choices; food growing/processing and preparation methods which affect nutrient content of the food we eat; the ability to adequately digest and absorb nutrients and lifestyle factors which give rise to extra nutrient needs. In view of this, you may like to consider continuing with your pregnancy multivitamin/mineral in the post-birth period. Ensure that it includes a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, including all the B vitamins which are important for energy production.
In addition to your pregnancy multi, there are a few other supplements you might want to consider which are safe to take whilst breastfeeding:
Deconstructed Black Forest Gateau – 200 ml plain yoghurt, 20 almonds (preferably soaked overnight), 10 frozen cherries, 2 teaspoons cacao powder. Blend thoroughly. Serve and drink immediately (alternatively the yoghurt can be swapped for 100 ml coconut cream plus 100 ml water).
Beetroot Smoothie – 1 raw red beetroot (peeled), 5 walnuts (preferably soaked overnight), 40 g of frozen blueberries, 40 g frozen raspberries, ½ avocado, 300 ml filtered water. Blend thoroughly. Serve and drink immediately.
Article by nutritional therapist, Clare Daley from Cytoplan