Many women think that a good nutritional diet is only important during pregnancy and not after childbirth. However, a good balanced and nutrient-rich diet is equally important for a new mother to help her recover from the delivery and gain enough strength to be able to take care of the little one. After all, only a healthy mother can take the best care of herself and the newborn child.
How much should a new mother eat?
After the childbirth, new mothers usually need around 1800 to 2200 calories per day (for your reference- 1 medium banana has around 100-110 calories, 1 chapati has 120 -150 calories). If you are breastfeeding, you may need 500 more calories. If you have any medical issue, you are underweight or you are breastfeeding more than 1 baby, then you may require higher calories. The best option is to talk to your doctor about your requirement and make a diet plan.
What nutrients does a new mother need?
A mother’s body undergoes many changes both physically and emotionally during the postpartum period. The body needs to restore a lot of important nutrients in order to regain strength and fitness.
At every meal, new mothers should fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half should be filled with whole grains such as whole wheat roti, brown rice, daal/ pulses or oatmeal. Processed and packaged foods and drinks should be avoided as much as possible because they are high in salt, sugar, fat and preservatives.
In addition to this, new mothers also need:
Protein: Protein-rich foods like eggs, milk, paneer, fish, lean meat, beans and soy products should be consumed more to help your body recover faster from childbirth. You should aim for at least 3-4 servings each day or even more if you are breastfeeding.
Iron: Iron helps in making new blood cells and prevent anemia. Red meat, shellfish and poultry are good sources of iron. However, not everyone can eat shellfish or meat every day so other good sources which you can include in your diet are Spinach, Collard, Kale, Lentils, Chickpeas, Soybeans, Tofu, nuts and seeds.
Water: New mothers should drink 8-10 glasses of water every day, whether they are nursing or not. They can also consume fluids in the form of fresh fruit juices, soup, green tea and milk.
What foods should be avoided by a new mother?
Some foods can pass to the baby through breast milk. Therefore, the new mother should avoid:
Alcohol: Doctors recommend to completely avoid any kind of alcohol until you are breastfeeding the baby.
Caffeine: New mothers should not consume more than 1 or 2 cups of tea/ coffee as caffeine gets passed through breast milk.
Tobacco: tobacco consumption in any form should be completely avoided by new mothers. It hampers the process of recovery and repair in the body. Nicotine and its byproducts pass into the breast milk and can cause the baby to have restlessness, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and diarrhea.
Fish: Some fishes have high mercury content like swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Mercury is a toxin that can harm your baby. So you should avoid them.
If you have just delivered a baby and you are confused about what to eat and what not, you should consult an expert nutritionist and dietician at RxDx Multispeciality Clinic and get a customized diet plan made for yourself.
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