After a long nine months of carefully evaluating every food item, new mothers can finally relax when it comes to rigid food rules post-delivery. Unlike pregnancy, no food is completely banned for a new mother to consume but care still needs to be taken to moderate the amount ingested.
A healthy and balanced diet is the best meal plan in order to provide the baby the nutrients needed for their development. Therefore, it is very important for mothers to include different sources of vitamins and minerals, vital to the health of both mother and child, in their diet.
Moreover, new mothers should also inculcate some good eating habits. Here are a few nutrition rules that will benefit new mothers and their babies tremendously:
1. Make up for lost calcium
Post-delivery the new mother experiences severe calcium loss, making it one of the crucial elements that should be included in their diet. Milk, cheeses, and other dairy products are excellent sources for calcium.For vegans, tofu, soya beans, and soy-based drinks should be considered, along with vegetables rich in calcium such as broccoli, cabbage, and lady finger. Small fish like sardines and pilchards are also good sources of calcium, and should be included in the new mother’s meal plan.
2. Protein is a must!
Inclusion of protein is crucial as it serves as the tissue’s building blocks and fosters growth. The new-born baby is in severe need of these properties and so the new mother must incorporate eggs, lean meat, fish, peanut butter, and beans in their diet.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids are important
Women, who have recently given birth and are breastfeeding, need to incorporate omega 3 fatty acids in their diet, as it is a crucial source of docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). DHA has a number of health benefits for both mother and child, which includes aiding the development of the baby’s eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more.The best source for omega 3 fatty acids is fish like rawas (Indian salmon) and pomfret. For vegetarian mothers, flaxseed, soya, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are fine sources for the same.
4. Don’t ignore iron
New mothers need to include food containing iron in order to reduce chances of anaemia in their newborns. A deficiency of iron in the body could lead to inadequate growth and development of the baby’s cognition and behavioural abilities. Thus, foods like turkey, chicken, legumes, spinach, and kale should be liberally inserted in the diet.
5. Avoid empty calories
The first few days after delivery are very hectic and it is extremely tempting for the new mother to turn to convenience food or junk food. These contain a number of empty calories that can affect insulin levels in the body which can lead to obesity. Thus, mothers should turn to healthier options that take little to no preparation like carrots, hummus, yogurt, fruits, and hard-boiled eggs.
6. Moderate caffeine intake
After nine months of avoiding caffeine, new mothers can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again, but only in moderation, as excess intake of caffeine can leak into the mother’s breast milk and reach the baby’s system. Two or three cups a day is the ideal consumption limit during this time.
7. Eat frequent, healthy meals post-partum
Energy levels drop often during this period, which is why it is advisable to eat smaller meals on a frequent basis. These can keep blood sugar at a more even level, which can help avoid fatigue.
8. Avoid dehydration
Delivering a baby causes immense fluid loss in the mother’s body and it is crucial to replenish them as soon as possible. Drinking enough water can help avoid symptoms of dehydration, which is important for breastfeeding mothers as dehydration leads to reduction in milk production in the mother’s body.