What Makes A Healthy Post‑Pregnancy Diet

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Jan 7, 2015

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Your post pregnancy diet isn’t as rule-bound as it is during pregnancy, but a healthy diet is still essential – if for no other reason than to keep up your energy for those 2 a.m. feedings. You may also be interested in starting to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. It won’t disappear all at once; your body isn’t designed for that. But a good post pregnancy diet can help you shed the kilos in a healthy way.

If you’re breastfeeding

Your body burns up to 500 calories per day producing breast milk. This is good news, in terms of weight loss, and breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to eat normally, assuming they gained the recommended amount of weight. If anything, add 300-500 calories to your daily diet, making the occasional sugary or fried indulgence more permissible. (That said, it’s still best to stick to your healthy pregnancy snacks.)

Breastfeeding mothers should also make sure they are drinking enough liquids, as it’s easy to become dehydrated. (Dark yellow urine is a sign you might need more fluids.) Water is best; milk is also recommended, to help replace the calcium your body is pulling away from your bones. Soups can be nutritious meal options that also help you stay hydrated. But be wary of juices and other drinks that contain sugar; they may assist in hydration, but they also can work against your body’s natural weight loss process. Continue to moderate your consumption of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, as the caffeine can further your own dehydration and agitate your baby via breast milk.

If you’re having trouble breastfeeding

Your diet after pregnancy affects not just the quality, but also the quantity of milk you produce. If you are having trouble lactating, first, make sure you are eating healthy meals that give you the right amount of calories. Now is not the time to lose weight by skipping meals! A balanced, full diet is essential to producing enough milk for your baby.

Also check your iron levels; iron deficiency can contribute to lower milk supply. You can read more on the Indian diet and the dangers of anemia here. Calcium may also be a factor – if you’re not getting enough, your body will start pulling it from your bones in order to lactate even small amounts, which can leave your frame dangerously weak.

However, if you are still having trouble, check with your doctor and consider adding one of these lactation-promoting foods to your post-pregnancy diet:

  • Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) – has estrogen-like properties
  • Fenugreek (methi) seeds or leaves – has estrogen-like properties
  • Fennel (saunf) – promotes milk expulsion, rather than production
  • Alfalfa – rich in essential vitamins, minerals and micronutrients
  • Oatmeal – high in iron
  • Bajra (pearl millet) – high in iron
  • Gardencress seeds – high in iron

If you’re not breastfeeding

There are many reasons why you may not want to or be able to breastfeed. Whatever the reason, if you aren’t breastfeeding your baby, you may need to pay a bit more attention to your caloric intake You may still feel more hungry than usual, as your body is likely still working to produce milk. However, you will not need the extra daily calories that breastfeeding mothers require. Small, healthy, and frequent meals will keep you full and keep you from binging. Continue to avoid indulgences high in fat or sugar. And start a gentle exercise regimen – light yoga or walking can combine with diet to keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

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Written By Ratnaraje Krishna Thar

Ratnaraje Krishna Thar, PhD, MSc. MPhil Foods Nutrition and Dietetics, is a nutritionist with a strong academic and research background, and twenty five years of experience in nutrition. She has presented research papers at national and international level, and has been active in community nutrition projects in Mumbai as well as rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra. She currently serves as faculty at Sophia Women’s Research Centre, a Nutritionist at Natural Health Centre for Better Health in Mumbai, a consultant with the Bay View Advisory Services Team and Shrimati Malati Dahanukar Trust, and handles clinical cases. She is currently working on developing a Nutrition app that will provide easy access to basic nutrition information.

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