One of the things that we commonly see patients coming in to see us for is that they don’t feel like they’ve healed well postpartum. They’re dealing with abdominal muscle separation, they’re dealing with core muscle weakness, maybe they’re having bladder leakage or pain with intercourse. They just don’t feel themselves in their body.
There are some simple tips that you can do to help promote healing in the postpartum time frame with some nutritional changes.
Much of our postpartum healing can come down to what we are eating. The postpartum time is not a time to be restrictive. Whether breastfeeding or not, we need to fuel our bodies because there is a lot taken out of our body when we are pregnant. We need to replenish our bodies and make sure that we have enough fuel there for ourselves and for our baby if we are breastfeeding.
1. Make sure that you are getting in enough protein.
Protein should be something that you consume in every meal. We need amino acids to help rebuild and repair and heal our tissue. If you have three main meals a day, you should be getting about 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal. This could be about a scoop of the average protein powder, maybe about four ounces of chicken breast or maybe a bowl of yogurt.
2. Add in collagen.
Collagen is the building block of all of our connective tissue. The belly and abdominal area get really stretched out during pregnancy, so we need the tissues to return back and to smooth out. We want to make sure that we have enough collagen present for our bodies to pull from to rebuild connective tissue. Your best bet may be to add collagen through a powder or supplement. You can also add bone broth to your diet every day to help rebuild the damaged tissue. One brand is Great Lakes Collagen. It’s very easy to add some to yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal and more.
3. Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acid.
Fatty acids are the fuel for our brain. it’s critical to both the development of your baby’s brain and helping your brain. Increasing your intake of fatty acids can help to clear that postpartum brain fog that you’re feeling. It’s also been shown to help the fatty acids have been shown to help stabilize mood, which is very helpful during this period when our hormones are adjusting. Some sources of fatty acids are salmon and walnuts, or a supplement.
4. Load up on fruits and vegetables.
This is a good time to pack in fruits and vegetables, with no need to limit intake. We want to make sure that we get a variety. One way to look at it is to ‘eat the rainbow,’ because that’ll get us a whole host of different micronutrients, different vitamins and minerals that we get from fruits and vegetables. Go for all sorts of different colors- blueberries, dark, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers… All of these are great options to kind of help us fill back up our stores of vitamins and minerals.
5. Make sure to get plenty of fluids throughout the day.
With a newborn, you may not have a lot of time. Most women, if they’ve delivered in the hospital, go home with one of those big pitcher containers with a straw in it. We highly recommend that you fill that up in the morning and try and drink it throughout the morning. Refill it again at lunchtime and drink it again. If you didn’t come home with one of those bottles, have some type of refillable container that you can use to keep fluid with you throughout the day. Water is the best fluid to drink. If you want to flavor it a little bit, we recommend flavoring it with sliced fruit. We’d recommend staying away from any artificial flavoring postpartum.
6. Eat consistently throughout the day.
It’s really easy when you’re taking care of a newborn, especially if you throw a toddler in there as well, that you give into cravings. Or, you may find yourself at three o’clock in the afternoon and you have not consumed any fluids or any food throughout the day. You’re like, “Wait a minute, how did that happen? It’s three o’clock and I haven’t really eaten anything…” That can happen to a lot of people. Trying to be consistent to ward off cravings can be really helpful. This is not a time where we want to try and fast. Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day, every two to three hours, is really helpful during this time. This will help you keep feeling full and keep your energy levels up. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s going to help with your milk production and help with body healing.
7. Keep healthy snacks on hand.
One thing that helps with eating consistently is having some meal options prepped and ready for you. If you have a friend or family member who is asking you what they can do for you, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m fine. I don’t need any help,” have them get you some healthy snack options that you like. Get those snacks prepped and ready in your fridge and in your pantry at home. We don’t need to take a lot of time to eat healthy, we want to make sure it’s ready to go. Cut up some fruits and vegetables that you like to have on hand in little containers, so you can just grab and go. Have a container and nuts around so it’s easy to grab. A pre cooked or organic rotisserie chicken is a great easy meal. You can use it for dinner and then you can use the leftovers the next day with a salad. In order to eat healthy and feel good, we want to have nice simple options there and ready for you.
This is a time to enjoy your food, fuel your body not be stressed or obsessing about counting calories or making sure that it’s the exact right thing. We don’t want you feeling limited and depleted. We want to make sure that you’re fueling appropriately so that your tissues heal. We want to make sure that those food options are available for you so that you feel like you can take care of yourself and take care of your baby.
If you have questions or wondering about how you and your body’s healing, we are here to help so don’t hesitate to reach out.