SuperFoods To Combat Common Post Natal Complaints
If you are postnatal the chances are your currently surviving on cold tea, soggy shreddies & eating pureed parsnips? (I'll never know why I always made so much puree?) Now, lets be honest, trying to keep up with your hungry newborn or weaning your baby is hard, you are probably just about functioning, albeit in a haze of nappies, washing & overwhelming fatigue! Stumbling to the local Costa to meet your new NCT friends for coffee, where you all inhale the largest piece of carrot cake whilst discussing how to lose your baby weight and the joys of constipation & fatigue!
Therefore, I do appreciate, preparing healthy, nutritious meals comes a long way down the to-do list for many new mums, especially when sometimes finding the time to get dressed is a challenge! (I taught early morning postnatal spin classes where mums & babies used to come in their PJ's!!)
However, postnatal cooking doesn't need to be time consuming or complicated, just continue to eat a good-quality diet just as you did during your pregnancy. Generally, it is recommended to have an extra 500 calories if breast-feeding, or if you are anemic or recovering from a cesarean delivery, you may require special nutritional management so check with your GP or midwife.
So what foods are great for helping combat these common postnatal concerns & what lifestyle changes should mums realistically try a make?
Constipation is a common and unpleasant post-natal complaint. The following advice can help relieve it:
- Get some form of daily exercise, such as walking.
- Make sure you have adequate dietary fibre. Bran muffins, high-fibre cereals, and lots of fruits and vegetables are good fibre choices. (Be sure to increase your fluid intake as you increase your fibre intake.)
- Drink to fulfill your fluid needs. 8 glasses a day is generally recommended-drink even more if you are breastfeeding.
- Drink four ounces of prune juice on an empty stomach followed by several cups of hot water, decaffeinated tea, or other hot beverage.
- Avoid the regular use of laxatives. If you use a laxative more often than every third or fourth day, you may have problems moving your bowels without the use of the laxative.
- Try fibre-containing stool softeners such as Meta-mucil, Fiberall, and Fibercon. They can help relieve constipation without the problems associated with laxative use.
Dealing With Fatigue
- Let your family and friends help you by doing laundry and other household chores :)
- Avoid caffeine to improve your rest and sleep.
- Restoring Your Iron Reserves - Some women learn they are anemic after childbirth. If your doctor prescribes an iron supplement, you need to help your body absorb it. To do this, eat a meal that includes a food rich in vitamin C when you take your iron supplement. Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli. It also helps to include a food that contains iron.
- Egg yolks can be an excellent source of iron, but you should limit your intake to three to four a week.
- Food sources of iron include lean red meats, organ meats, spinach, egg yolks (limit to three to four a week), and cream of wheat. Avoid taking your iron supplement with any significant source of calcium because calcium interferes with iron absorption. Calcium sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, and antacids. Since low-fat dairy products are of significant nutritional importance, don't cut these out altogether; include them in meals other than the ones that accompany your iron supplements.
- Protein and Complex Carbohydrates - Complex carbohydrates (Wholemeal bread, pasta, rice , potato, Quinoa) increase serotonin levels in the brain.(which helps regulate moods) The best ways to fight fatigue through diet is by eating mini-meals throughout the day in order to regulate your blood sugar.
The best mini-meals are those that combine complex carbohydrates and protein:
- High fibre cereal with milk
- Yogurt with sliced fruit topped with almonds, walnuts, or pecans
- Chicken salad on whole wheat toast
- Hummus and whole wheat pitta bread
- Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Porrige with raisins, nuts and oats
- Vitamin B3 - Niacin, also known as B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in energy metabolism. Increase your intake of foods like beef, pork, died beans, chicken, and fish like mackerel or salmon to get vitamin B3 in your diet.
- Vitamin E - This antioxidant increases energy and stamina. Fill up on almonds, asparagus, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and olives
- Zinc - Zinc is important in supporting different processes in the brain and body. Lack of zinc in your diet can lead to irritability and depression. Good sources of zinc include eggs, fish, turkey, oysters, beef, wheat germ, and yogurt.
- Vitamin C - Vitamin C deficiencies have shown to be linked to depression. Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits, broccoli, green leafy vegetables (especially kale), tomato puree, peas, raspberries, spring onions, and turnips.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown in numerous clinical studies to combat depression as well as bi-polar disorder. Add servings of omega-3 rich fish like herring, sardines, tuna, and salmon to your diet. Walnut and canola oil are also excellent sources.
- Calcium - Adding servings of calcium-rich foods may help ward off depression and anxiety. Your best bets for calcium are yogurt, cheese, sardines with bones, milk, salmon with bones, sesame seeds, or calcium-fortified juices.
- Folic Acid- Research from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts found that levels of folic acid (folate) were much lower among people suffering from depression than in people who were not depressed. Folic acid is plentiful in avocados, leafy green veggies, grapefruit, black eyed peas, orange juice, and most fruits. It is important to avoid food that will zap your energy like alcohol, fats, caffeine, white flour products, and simple carbohydrates like sugar, honey, or sugary soft drinks. Remember to include healthy snacks between meals or eat five or six mini meals each day. In addition, keep yourself hydrated as one of the largest causes of fatigue is dehydration.
So mums, to help with those common postnatal complaints remember keep it simple and choose nutritious foods which require little or no preparation. Snack on fresh fruit, raw vegetables, natural unsweetened yogurt with raisins & granola & just grill your meats and fish, so much faster to prepare than casseroles & who knows you may even be able to eat it whilst it's hot!!
Let friends and family help you by providing nutritious meals during the early months after childbirth, freeze some of them so you can pull them out of the freezer for use on stressed out or suer busy days.
Nurture yourself, (you are always looking after your family) so take a moment & sit down to eat & enjoy your meals, even if on your own. Eating on the run or standing to eat makes you feel you have not had a meal; this habit contributes to fatigue and may even contribute to overeating. It's also not very good for your digestion. Place your baby in a swing or in an infant seat so your hands are free. If your baby needs to be close to you, an infant backpack or sling is helpful. Or you may wait to eat until your baby's quiet time or when she is asleep.
Remember, foods alone can't relieve fatigue or other post natal complaints it is a good-quality diet combined with sleep and gentle exercise & great nutrition, but food is a great place to start!
Good Luck xx
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