Nutrition expert Vicki Edgson offers her top 10 post-baby dietary guidelines for new mothers
A healthy approach to nutrition is vital for new mothers.
Expert Vicki Edgson, a leading spokesperson for women’s health and nutrition and executive nutritionist at London's new Mermaid Maternity Retreat, opening in July 2013, explains, 'You have run the equivalent of a marathon, and you should congratulate yourself for the beautiful baby you have produced. Now it's time to take care of you both, to ensure that you produce quality breast milk if you are breastfeeding, and ample proteins for healing and repair for your own body.’
The perfect pregnancy menu
These are Vicki’s 10 top nutritional tips for new mums:
1. Eat regularlyYou need to eat regularly, as breastfeeding is a hungry job! Eat 5-6 small meals a day, rather than having only breakfast, lunch and dinner. Keep supplies of apples, pears and bananas to hand for that 'quick fix' when you suddenly feel ravenous, or are in the middle of feeding - this is far better than grabbing a bar of chocolate, which offers less nutrients and will only serve to disrupt your bloom sugar levels, leaving you more emotional, and less able to cope.
Your body after birth: what to expect
2. Eat proteinEnsure that you include some protein with every meal, both to balance your blood sugar levels, and to provide you with the building blocks for healing and repair of your own body as well as the growth of your child. Include eggs, chicken, fish, lean meat, beans and pulses, together with good sources of complex carbohydrates, to keep you nourished.
Light, nutritious egg recipes
3. Substitute white rice for brown rice Brown, red camargue and wild rice will offer you more long-lasting energy than white rice. Whole grains like oats, millet, rye and buckwheat (for noodles, blinis and pancakes), barley and quinoa will all provide you with plenty of B vitamins and minerals for energy.
Make it: quinoa with feta and courgette
4. Eat plenty of vegetablesEat plenty of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach, watercress, rocket and parsley) that contain abundant iron to prevent anaemia, and keep you fuelled. Remember that these can all be eaten raw as well as in soups and as side dishes. They also deliver nutrient-laden hydration, and ensure abundant breast milk.
Health benefits of spinach
5. Include essential fatty acidsEssential fatty acids (omega-3, -6 and -9) are all vital for the growth and development of your child's brain and nervous system, as well as the nourishment and re-hydration of your own fatty tissue (think brain, rather than excess weight around your abdomen and thighs!). Eat plenty of fish (sardines, mackerel and salmon, which may be tinned for ease of preparation) for omega-3; alternatively, seeds, some nuts (keep to small amounts to make sure that your child does not develop an intolerance through breastfeeding), avocados, and Chia seeds provide the best source of omega-3 (plus fibre and minerals) for vegetarians.
Best tinned fish choices
6. Treat yourself Have a little of what you love. No-one is saying 'don't have chocolate', but choose good quality high-cocoa dark chocolate rather than commercial milky chocolates that have so many additives and preservatives.
7. Drink herbal teaDrink plenty of herbal teas for hydration, and alternate between fennel, nettle, peppermint, white tea (choose herbs over fruit teas, as these are often high in mould and can cause wind in your child if breast-feeding). Hydration is the key to everything positive.
5 good reasons to drink herbal tea
8. Limit caffeine intakeKeep coffee and other caffeinated drinks to a minimum, as they are all diuretic, and will cause lowered production of breast-milk as a result.
9. Avoid fizzy drinksDon't drink anything from a can that you wouldn't find in nature - fizzy drinks are only water and chemicals, and really don't do either you or your baby any good.
10. Drink lots of waterRemember that fatigue is often associated with dehydration, rather than lack of food, so get into the habit of carrying water with you wherever you go - you are as important as your baby!
Try the three-week post-pregnancy workout
The Mermaid Maternity Retreat in London's Chelsea covers antenatal and post-natal programmes, including breastfeeding, parenting classes, cranial osteopathy for your baby, physiotherapy, and exercise programmes designed to get you back in shape safely and quickly. Visit www.mermaid.co.uk
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