The lists of the best foods to have after giving birth are a dime a dozen. Every day, we’re bombarded with this guide or that guide on what to eat after giving birth and they are all usually unrealistic.
Scrolling through them, one or two things will usually stand out that you might think to yourself that you might be able to incorporate into your diet and lifestyle, but let’s face it, most of us usually don’t.
Here is a little of the 10 foods that you should be eating as a postpartum mom and 10 that you shouldn’t that is more realistic. Many of these items should already be in your pantry, making it super easy to either incorporate or discard from your daily routine.
Eating afterbirth doesn’t have to be complicated. The best foods for both the recovering mom and the newborn baby are rooted in simplicity and the best part is that they won’t break the bank. Eating healthy has a bad rep for being expensive but truth of the matter is that it doesn’t have to be. By eliminating one “bad” food, there is then more room in your budget for better choices that will leave you feeling more energetic and happier.
20 Lose Weight By Easily Making Your Own Ghee
The consumption of ghee has be around for centuries but it recently exploded in popularity after Kourtney Kardashian claimed that: “a teaspoon a day does you good”.
As much as the Kardashians can be outrageous, this claim at least is very true, especially for postpartum mamas.
Pronounced “gi” with a hard G, ghee is basically the liquid you get after you boil down butter. You can find the exact preparation method online but take note that you need to use the highest quality butter that you can get your hands on (organic, unsalted, etc.)
Drinking ghee after delivery is very beneficial, but the fact that it helps to lubricate your joint and make them strong again is just a myth as this is something your body does on its own.
What is true is that ghee enhances postpartum weight loss, strengthens the immune system and promotes optimal gut health.
19 Skip Burgers, Pizza And Lasagna
As much as ghee is a recommended food, all other fatty foods definitely are on the no-no list. It might be tempting to have a greasy burger and fries after giving birth but you will thank yourself later by skipping it.
The same goes for all other heavy foods like pizza, lasagna, fried chicken, subs, etc. Being bloated is the last feeling you want to be experiencing postpartum. Especially in the first few days following delivery, these kinds of foods can take longer to digest.
Instead of consuming three heavy meals during the day, it’s also best to have more frequent smaller meals. You could for instance focus on having: breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner, and another snack before bedtime.
For each meal, put the emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies. Replace greasy fries with steamed vegetables or at the very least oven-roasted carrots and sweet potatoes.
18 Try Kombucha (It's Sweetened Tea!)
Dubbed the “Immortal Health Elixir”, kombucha is believed to have been around for more than 2,000 years. It’s basically a sweetened tea that is fermented with scoby, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It sounds kind of weird when described but then again, the process for making kombucha isn’t that different from milk, yogurt or kefir.
For centuries, kombucha has been touted for its incredible list of health benefits. Just recently, it has been touted as “treating” cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even AIDS. However, it’s not so much that kombucha treats diseases but more so that it promotes health by improving digestion, improving pancreas function, detoxifying the liver – all of which can be incredibly beneficial during the postpartum period.
Anyone with a high sensitivity to alcohol might want to keep in mind that kombucha contains less than 1% alcohol. However, this means that you would literally need to down several glasses in a row just to maybe get some kind of a feeling, making it sense for breastfeeding.
17 Cut Out Citrus And Tomatoes
When it comes to avoiding food, everything can be debated. Some will argue that breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t cut any foods out to avoid losing out on the nutrients, but others will claim that such and such foods can cause a slew of negative symptoms in the baby.
At the end of the day, every baby is different and you need to figure out what works best for your child. Some breastfeeding mothers will find themselves able to eat anything they want without adverse effects, but others will search high and low for answers. For the latter mommies, cutting out citrus fruits is often the answer.
Oranges, pineapples… even tomatoes and strawberries can all contribute towards a pretty bad diaper rash. They can also have for effect to irritate the stomach lining and trigger reflux in your baby.
Cutting out acidic foods doesn’t only extend to breastfeeding moms though. Moms who have had a caesarean delivery may want to cut these foods out also as they can cause gas and increase pain during the healing process.
16 Heal Faster With Turmeric
Although this isn’t a ready-to-go food, turmeric is an ingredient that any postpartum mama should consider adding to her meals.
Known as the “Queen of Spices”, turmeric is filled with vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium and fiber. On top of boosting immunity, it also reduces inflammation, which can be particularly helpful after giving birth.
It may not seem like much to just add a pinch or two of turmeric to your meals, but it can actually help to manage weight as well as prevent the risk of weight gain. Instead of adding it to your meals, you can also choose to have a teaspoon of turmeric powder diluted in a glass of water after a meal.
As it contains fiber, it also promotes digestion. It’s particularly amazing for nursing moms who experience bloating and gas symptoms.
15 Skip The Cocktails But Make One Exception
Speaking of drinks, it goes without saying that alcohol is to be avoided after giving birth. As tempting as it might be to finally have a couple of drinks, it really is better to wait a little while longer.
One or two drinks might be fine but even if you are not breastfeeding, having three or more drinks in one night can reduce the amount of white blood cells, thereby weakening the immune system and producing a nutrition deficiency. During the postpartum period, it’s important to rest as much as possible and give your body the time it needs to heal.
With all this being said, even for a breastfeeding mother, an occasional glass of white or a bottle of beer is totally fine. In fact, many moms swear that having a Guinness beer has for effect to boost their milk supply. It might not work for everyone, but just remember to wait enough time before breastfeeding.
14 Not Hungry? Drink A Protein Shake
All too often, moms will experience a lack of appetite after giving birth and it’s totally normal. Some moms are lucky if they can get in at least five bites at dinner after going all day eating practically nothing. Even despite breastfeeding, which is supposed to increase hunger, some mommies will still find themselves with a complete lack of appetite.
So how do you get those nutrients in when you just don’t feel like eating anything? Incorporating a shake might be a good idea.
All you need is a cup of water, a cup of frozen berries and a scoop of protein powder. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your body required 20% more protein, so having a quick protein shake is a great way to boost your daily intake without forcing yourself to eat.
Try to choose a quality plant-based protein powder and stay away from additives geared towards body builders and athletes (i.e. extra caffeine, creatine, etc.)
Other great ways to get that protein in there? Try 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup cooked beans, ½ block tofu or 2oz Swiss cheese.
13 Avoid Coffee A Little While Longer
After avoiding coffee all throughout pregnancy, many moms relish at the idea of giving birth and finally having that cup of black deliciousness. Unfortunately, it’s not always the best drink to have postpartum no matter how tempting the short term boost might seem.
This mostly applies to breastfeeding mamas and the good news is that even then, it highly depends on each person. Some moms will find themselves having to cut all the good stuff from their diets in an effort to appease a colicky baby and others will go on to drink 2-3 cups daily without noticing adverse changes in their baby’s sleep patterns.
So all this to say that it really depends. In the beginning especially though, it might be a good idea to ease back into having coffee and seeing how your baby reacts.
12 Lose Weight Faster With Chocolate
When you’re sleep deprived, your body craves more sugary, high-calorie and unhealthy foods. Just one night of decreased sleep is enough to boost these cravings, so can you imagine night after night of waking up with a newborn?
Losing the baby weight can be hard but managing craving is even harder. Although some might advise that breastfeeding women may want to avoid dark chocolate in the evening, a square or two of dark chocolate is still better than indulging in late night sugar cravings such as ice cream.
Dark chocolate is high in minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, which is a great pick-me-up after giving birth.
11 ... But Avoid All Other Sweets
Just like with the fatty foods, you should also be avoiding all baked goods. Cakes, cupcakes, donuts, pastries… no matter what a friend or family friend brings you, try to skip it! It may seem harmless to have some but your body will most certainly not thank you later.
Women who has gestational diabetes need to be particularly careful with their postnatal diet. Gestational diabetes usually resolves very fast but after having it during pregnancy, up to 10% of women will go on to have type 2 diabetes and up to 50% will have a chance of developing it in the next years. Scary percentages, but the importance of watching what you eat even post-delivery can’t be stressed enough.
Eat nutritious foods after giving birth is not only important for the baby if the mom is breastfeeding, but also for the mom’s own recovery.
10 Eliminate Junk Cravings By Snacking On Almonds
A handful of almonds keeps the doctor away… okay, that isn’t exactly the real expression but it may as well be! Loaded with omega 3 essential fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium, potassium, as well as vitamins B12 and E, almonds are amazing for a postpartum woman’s health.
On top of lowering cholesterol, consuming almonds on a daily basis can help to lessen belly fat, reduce cravings and even lessen gut inflammation! Just the benefit of possibly reducing belly fat should be enough to entice most postpartum mamas.
Some will say to just have 12, while others will recommend up to 23, but don’t worry about diligently counting the amount of almonds that you have. Straight after giving birth, it’s not time to calorie count, so listen to your body instead.
To mix things up, you could also dip veggies into almond butter as a snack.
9 Seriously Consider Giving Up Dairy
A major point of contention is dairy. Giving up dairy has many proven health benefits and it's no surprise that it would be beneficial for both a postpartum mama and her baby.
On top of clearer skin and better respiratory health, eliminating dairy has for effect to improve digestion and lessen bloating. The last two points especially are important for a woman who has just given birth.
Especially after a C-section, many women will feel gas pain discomfort, causing them to feel quite bloated. This is a major reason for which a light diet is recommended but the reasoning applies no matter if the delivery was a vaginal or a caesarean one. Following delivery, it's important to focus on easily digestible foods to boost the healing process.
Not every mama chooses to breastfeed but those who do and choose to go dairy-free might also see a beneficial effect on their babies. Symptoms of a dairy allergy in breastfed babies include eczema, irritability, wheezing, congestion, ear infections, and constipation. Another major giveaway is green stools laced with mucus or blood.
8 Prevent Constipation With Oatmeal
As we all know, that first poop after giving birth can be killer. Filled with iron, calcium and fiber, oatmeal can do wonders for the body as it helps to prevent constipation.
But avoid the pre-packaged little pouches of oatmeal as these usually contain unnecessary sugar. Opt instead for steel cut oats or at the very least, the quick cooking oats with no additional flavoring.
Oatmeal is also one of the top ten lactogenic foods, which means that it can help to increase a woman’s milk supply. Another bonus? It’s usually high in iron, which can be even more beneficial for moms who experienced higher than usual blood loss during delivery.
Can't stomach a bowl of oatmeal? Make lactation oatmeal cookies instead!
But as much as oatmeal is amazing for mom, it’s not always so great for the baby as it can cause gassiness.
The key word here is “can” because more often than not, something else in mom’s diet is usually the culprit for a baby’s gassiness.
7 ... But Avoid Bananas
Pooping after birth is a hot topic and rightfully so… for many, it’s really hard! Especially with stitches and hemorrhoids, that first postpartum poop can see frightfully impossible.
With that being said, bananas are a fruit that brings on a lot of confusion. Do bananas help relieve constipation or are they best avoided? It depends.
Bananas can help prevent constipation as they’re a good source of insoluble fiber, which absorbs water and helps to moves things along in your digestive tract. However, if you are already constipated, then bananas tend to do quite the opposite and are best avoided.
Another major factor with regards to bananas and constipation is ripeness. An unripe banana causes constipation, but a ripe one is supposed to help go to the bathroom. Ideally, bananas shouldn’t be eaten before they get a couple of brown spots on them.
Rather than risking constipation with bananas, eat instead: prunes, yogurt, rye bread and flaxseed.
6 Eat Two Eggs Daily To Keep Fatigue At Bay
If you don’t like salmon or fish, then another great way to get those omega-3’s in there is with some eggs. Gone are the days of eggs being bad for cholesterol. The research is now showing instead that a moderate consumption of two to three eggs per day is actually quite healthy but more importantly, cholesterol levels in relation to heart disease vastly depend on each person.
After giving birth, omega-3 fortified eggs is a very good choice and the best part is that it can help ward off postpartum fatigue – not to mention the fatigue from interrupted sleep at night.
Plus, you don’t even need to have two eggs for breakfast. You could instead boil a few eggs in advance and then eat one as a snack during the day or if you’re on the go with the baby.
5 Exclude Gassy Foods - For Both You And Baby!
The word “diet” gets a bad rep. It used to be that dieting meant not eating, but fortunately the meaning of the word has since been altered to now mean a healthier way of eating. With this being said, if you experience gas after giving birth, then you’re not alone. It’s a common postpartum complaint and one that can be quite bothersome –and embarrassing!-- when you’re trying to take care of a baby.
Everything from constipation to pelvic floor damage can be a culprit for bloating but diet plays a huge factor as well. Many foods contribute to bloating but the main offenders are usually: beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, prunes, peaches and pears.
It’s also worth cutting out these foods if you’re breastfeeding but also if baby is very uncomfortable. If the only symptom is a foul odor, then it’s usually better to keep eating a balanced diet without cutting these out to ensure that baby gets the most nutrients possible.
4 Gravitate Towards Whole Grains And Brown Everything
After giving birth, you might be focused on losing weight as much as possible. Relax mama! The weight will gradually come off on its own and there is no need to stress about. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, the importance of eating balanced meals during the day can’t be stated enough.
Instead of white rice, the usual white pasta, white potatoes and all the other usual carbs, opt instead for whole wheat and brown-everything as much as you can. This means: whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, brown rice, along with buckwheat and the aforementioned oatmeal.
Whereas the traditional carbs like fries and white pasta can leave you sluggish, eating whole grains can actually give you a much needed boost in energy.
Keep in mind that even wheat products may not sit well with each breastfed baby. Not the same things are right for every mom or child.
3 Go Light On The Spice
As much as you should consider sprinkling turmeric on all your foods, all other spices should be off the table -- and we’re not talking about your favorite Italian seasoning. It’s the spicy spices that you should be worrying about… anything that adds heat to your food needs to get the axe for a little while.
It’s always best to err on the safe side in the very beginning and not only for the baby if you’re breastfeeding. The same goes for a mother’s postpartum self-care as unfortunately, spicy food can give rise to heartburn.
It’s unfair to say that every postpartum woman should eliminate all spicy foods from her diet. As with all other foods that are on the countless “do not eat postpartum” lists, it’s one of those that vastly depends on each woman and her baby. With regards to a nursing infant though, it would be best to possibly cut out the food based on the baby’s reaction and re-incorporating it a little while later.
2 Ward Off PPD By Eating Salmon Weekly
If you don’t buy salmon because it’s too expensive, then you might want to rethink your stance. Buying salmon doesn’t have to be outrageous as you can often get it on sale.
Having salmon once a week have shown to be extremely beneficial, especially for any postpartum mama. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to enhance brain function and keep depression at bay.
Postpartum depression is a nasty beast that afflicts up to 15% of women postpartum and luckily, eating the right foods can help. If you find that nothing helps and you also experience insomnia, sadness, a change in appetite, then it’s important to talk to your doctor right away.
If you don’t like salmon or fish in general, then you can consider taking an omega-3 supplement instead.
1 Give Cold Food A Rest
As we already covered, sleep deprivation can increase cravings for sweet foods and many moms find solace by having ice cream frequently… sometimes on a near daily basis – I speak from experience.
Aside from how ice cream should probably be cut out because of the aforementioned dairy element, there is also the matter of it being a cold food. The idea of cutting out cold foods postpartum may sound a little on the outlandish side but bear with me for a second. Postpartum beliefs and practices among non-western cultures vary greatly but most of them are in accordance with foods to avoid postpartum and cold foods are high on the list.
Maintaining a hot-cold balance is believed to restore a mother’s balance more quickly after giving birth, thereby helping her heal faster. After giving birth, a mother is considered to be in a cold state because of the blood she would have lost during the delivery. As such, the aim is to keep the mother as warm as possible.
Only warm foods and drinks are encouraged with the objective of helping the mother recover faster.
Sources: FitnessSpell.com, WomensHealthMag.com, Kellymom.com, ScaryMommy.com, Babycenter.com, MomJunction.com, KourtneyKardashian.com, Health.com, Parents.com, Parenting.com, and Healthline.com.