Nutrition Series Part 3 - Postnatal
The day has finally arrived and you’ve welcomed your bundle of joy into the world. You’ve taken all the necessary steps for pre-conception care and looked after yourself throughout pregnancy - now what? This period is referred to as “post- natal” and supporting your health now, is just as important as the previous stages. It is not uncommon for new mums to experience exhaustion, cracked nipples, infection, mastitis, post-partum hypertension, post-partum thyroiditis or post-partum depression; with approximately 19% of women experiencing post-partum depression in the first 3 months after childbirth.
Although there are numerous health concerns that may affect a mum post-natal, the following are perhaps the most recognized.
This accompanies symptoms of feeling disconnected from their baby, feeling down, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion, sleep disturbances or thoughts of harm to their child.
Diagnoses can be done through your doctor, who will ask a series of questions to assess mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there are specific support networks to help.
Supporting a mother’s nervous system through diet, should be done regardless of a PPD diagnoses. Studies have shown intakes of EPA/DHA’s (Omega 3’s), reduce depressive symptoms in pregnant and postpartum women.
Sources include salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.
B Vitamins are also required for brain and neurotransmitter function. Sources include egg yolk, anchovies, broccoli, liver, eggplant, sunflower seeds and spinach.
Affecting approximately one third of lactating women, Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast tissue. Mastitis may occur at any point whilst breast feeding but often presents during the first 12 weeks. Common causes include blocked milk ducts, breast engorgement and infection. Breast tenderness, nipple pain, cracked nipples, fever and fatigue are all associated symptoms.
Diagnoses is made with your doctor, who will examine the area, looking for signs of redness, inflammation, cracked nipples and breast tenderness.
Include rich sources of zinc, to support wound healing (Red meats, eggs, sunflower seeds, mushrooms) and if prescribed antibiotics, a probiotic is recommended to restore healthy gut flora and prevent yeast overgrowth. Also avoid high doses of Vitamin C, as may cause diarrhoea in the breastfeeding baby.
Whilst many mums find they will eat on the go or end up skipping meals altogether, ensuring you eat to sustain energy, to allow for milk production and to support any post-partum health issues, is incredibly important. I recommend for all new mums, to invest in a slow cooker. Unless you have a personal chef or a family member/ friend providing you with meals, finding the time and energy to prepare and cook, is often the last thing you feel like doing. Finding simple ways to still eat well, will reduce extra pressure you may put on yourself and provide nutrients to support your own health.
Good sources of protein at least three times a week should be included in the diet. Consuming 1 gram per kilo of body weight is ideal. Sources include eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, legumes and cheese.
Breast feeding will require a higher intake of carbohydrates and including oats, wholegrains, quinoa, sweet potato and chickpeas, are all ideal. Also Including fats from nuts (if you choose to eat nuts whilst breast feeding), avocado, dairy and oily fish such as salmon.
SAMPLE MENU PLAN
Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup spinach, ½ tomato, 1 cup mushrooms
Morning Tea – Smoothie. Banana, coconut milk, honey, raw cacao
Lunch – Toasted sourdough topped with 1 can of tuna, ½ avocado, cucumber
Afternoon Tea – 1 cup of Greek yoghurt, ½ cup mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
Dinner – In slow cooker – 1 lamb shoulder, served with sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
Water – 2 litres filtered
Slow cooked lamb, served with veggies and a rosemary sauce
Ingredients: 1 lamb shoulder, 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 carrots, 1/2 pumpkin.
Cut sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots into smaller sized pieces (approx. 3-4 cm in length)
In a slow cooker, add sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin. Place lamb shoulder on top. Turn setting to low heat and allow to cook for 8 hours.
Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs butter, 2 tbs fresh rosemary, 2 tbs olive oil, ½ cup veggie stock
Remove lamb and vegetables from slow cooker. Do not wash slow cooker. Turn to high heat.
Add garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and veggie stock and whisk with pan juices.
Add butter and stir. Serve.
If you are experiencing any health concerns post pregnancy, please see your doctor.
- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist
To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist
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