Postpartum care: Experts tips on nutrition and fitness for new moms

Life after birth is almost always focused on the baby and often the new mother tends to lay lesser importance on her own nutrition and wellbeing. However, it must be kept in mind that the new mother’s health and wellness will in fact boost the newborn’s growth, wellbeing and immunity too.

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Therefore, it is of primary importance to look after the mother’s nutrition and eventually balance fitness in the everyday routine as well.

Nutritional dos and don’ts:

Remember breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and stamina on the mother’s part. Breastmilk sources nutrients for the baby from the mother’s body reserves. Hence, choosing low calorie foods and restricting meals will not only make the mother nutrient deficient but also impact the breastmilk supply and in turn the baby’s growth.

Focus on including high calcium and high-protein foods in the meals to help support breast milk production. Include legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains for plant-based proteins. Add dairy products and dark green vegetables for calcium.

Pregnancy supplements are well taken and focused upon, but postpartum there is often a slack in taking the same vitamins and medications by the new mother. Do not look at suddenly discontinuing the supplements and vitamins. Continue to stock up on iron, omega 3, vit b12 and vit d3 during the postpartum breastfeeding days to support the lactating mother’s wellbeing.

Hydration is essential for breastmilk. Drink to thirst, which is often intense while breastfeeding. Drink up more fluids if the urine appears to be on the darker yellow side as it indicates dehydration. Postpartum hormones tend to fluctuate drastically and upping fluid intake can also help balance the same. Include coconut water, lemon ginger tea, soups and chia drinks to add flavor and fun to the otherwise routine water intake.

Never go carbohydrate-free! Postpartum it is very important to have energy not just to tend to the baby but also for the postpartum body’s healing. Carbohydrates provide the body with that very energy and therefore must be included in every meal. Choose better carbohydrates in the form of minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.

While it is tempting to imagine returning to the pre-pregnancy body, remember your body just spent nine months nurturing and then birthing a baby. It is a wholesome and life altering experience for the body, which needs utmost care, rest and time before it can resume exercise.

Fitness dos and don’ts:

Start slow & steady with light walks and stretches after you have a go ahead from the gynecologist which is usually after the 6-to-8-week postpartum checkup. This checkup will have the doctor check the healing of any stitches if present, evaluate your general health and body statistics along with discussing any health-related issues you may be facing.

Focus on back strengthening and pelvic floor exercises as these muscles have been impacted in pregnancy and childbirth. This will help ease the body and build up further for eventual exercises that one may want to take to.

Avoid starting directly with abdominal exercises in a bid to get rid of the postpartum belly. Often the abdominal muscles in fact need healing of the diastasis recti. Intense abdominal exercises could instead make the condition worse and result in further complications.

Learn to breathe correctly during exercises. The right breathing will not only help with better oxygenation and circulation to the body, accelerating postpartum healing, but also help with better muscle control and muscles toning.

(The writer is Founder of Therhappy. She is a Pregnancy/Childbirth & Lactation Specialist and a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.)

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