FAQ on postpartum diet

FAQs that you must read about postpartum diet

It is natural to worry about dietary restrictions after giving birth. Or, you might be wondering if there is any specific diet to follow if you are breastfeeding? Can you now have all those foods that you love but couldn’t enjoy during pregnancy? So, here is a list of some frequently asked questions regarding postpartum diet. Read on.

How soon can I start having food after delivery?

You can start eating normal food as soon as you have your baby. However, if you have undergone a C-section, you might be asked by the doctor to start on a liquid or semi-solid diet and slowly graduate to a solid diet. If you are wondering when to start on a postpartum diet, the answer is quite simple. You should start eating nutritious food as soon as you can.

How much food should I have after delivery?

You will need approximately an additional 600 calories if you are breastfeeding your child. The total calories you will now need is more than what you needed with you were pregnant. Adequate food is required for production of milk and to recover from the delivery. You will be hungry more frequently, so have small nutritious snacks like a handful of nuts and seeds, roasted makhana, or just a fruit like banana whenever hunger strikes! You should balance your diet with sufficient amounts of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole-grain bread or oats) and protein. Milk, fruits, and green vegetables provide with calcium, iron, vitamins and minerals. Avoid having packaged or processed foods or those with empty calories.

What is a good postpartum diet?

So, what is the right kind of diet after delivery? Even as new moms look to control their consumption of calorie-rich foods in order shed the extra weight they have put on during pregnancy, remember that you are now in the breastfeeding phase and hence your diet should include all nutrients that you baby needs. So, while you become conscious of your weight, make sure you are adding these foods to meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

Lactogenic foods

Lactogenic foods help in the formation of breast milk. Some examples of lactogenic foods are garlic, fenugreek (methi), fennel seeds (saunf), cumin seeds (jeera), sesame seeds (til), Holy basil (tulsi), pulses (dals) and green leafy vegetables such as spinach (paalak) and mustard greens (sarson ka saag). Many of these are available in the form of seeds and can be used to flavour water or tea, or can be used as part of regular cooking.

Protein-rich food

Protein-rich foods are important to maintain energy levels and speed up tissue repair. This is important in mothers who had C-sections or episiotomy during delivery. Some examples of protein-rich foods include cottage cheese (paneer), vegetable and meat soups, eggs, nuts and seeds, dals and meat preparations (chicken, mutton, etc.) and milk and curds.

Food with probiotics

Curd, yogurt and buttermilk made in the traditional way are rich in beneficial bacteria and can help replenish your gut flora for smooth digestion and improving immune function. These foods can also hasten wound repair. Traditional Indian fermented foods like, handvo, idlis, dosas, rice kanji, koozh or konji made of fermented mustard are some foods that are filled with probiotic bacteria.

Food with fibre content

You need to have plenty of fibre-rich foods to improve digestion and prevent constipation. Fibre is also a good source of prebiotics; a food constituent that helps the body make beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut. Porridge made of sprouted millets are a good source of prebiotic fibre.

Food with vitamins and minerals

Foods with vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc help heal wounds and scars. These foods include milk as well as vegetables such as capsicum, carrots, beetroots, nuts and beans, and fruits such as strawberries, oranges, lemons, mosambi, etc. Green leafy vegetables like mustard, radish, spinach, methi and moringa leaves are packed with iron; an important mineral that help you build your blood that you might be losing through bleeding. You can also get iron from foods like meats and eggs and you can increase iron absorption from foods by combining an iron-rich and vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable in the same meal or dish. You should also have milk, lean meats, fish, and eggs, as they are rich in vitamins and proteins apart from calcium. Calcium is important for you because the calcium from the bones is drawn into breast milk.

Hydration

Breastfeeding mothers need to double their water intake. Consume adequate quantities of water, coconut water, flavoured water like fennel and jeera water and fresh fruit juices to stay hydrated and remain free from constipation. Keeping a bottle of water close by can help the busy new mother meet her fluid requirements and not ignore thirst.

Should I follow a nutritious diet if I am not breastfeeding?

Even mothers who do not breastfeed should take adequate meals for their own wellbeing. A nutritious diet is required for bouncing back from pregnancy and rigours of the delivery process. Healthy mothers nurture healthy babies. You have to replenish your energy sources while you raise a child.

How much water is sufficient for me after delivery?

You must ensure sufficient water intake not only to support breast milk formation, but also to prevent constipation. Usually, 8-10 glasses of water should be enough, although you might require more if you are breastfeeding often or breastfeeding more than one child. You should have a sufficient amount of water if you exercise regularly. The colour of the urine is a good indicator of how much water you are having every day. It will be darker if you are not consuming the required amount

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Should I take vitamins, iron and calcium supplements after delivery?

Typically iron and calcium supplements are prescribed for a period of 3 months post-delivery. However, your doctor can guide you about the ideal supplements based on the nutritional gaps that you may have. It is important to remember that supplements are not replacements for a healthy well-balanced diet. A balanced diet should help you get all the other nutrients that a supplement might not contain.

What food items should I avoid after delivery?

  • You should avoid alcohol completely as it is harmful to the baby.
  • Avoid fast foods and deep-fried foods as they are difficult to digest. They can lead to gastric issues and may even make you feel constipated.
  • Avoid foods such as cupcakes, bakery items, snacks, chips and cookies, and soft-drinks that are high in sugars.

Overall, you should be well-nourished after delivery to make sure that you and your baby remain healthy. You should discuss with your doctor about the various nutrients you will need to support your baby during the initial years of growth and development.