Part III: Post Natal NutritionOctober 2020
So I know it’s been a minute…well actually two months since I said I’d post about my post natal nutrition, but here it is finally. What can I say, I’ve been enjoying life with Piper. She is now 7.5months and so much fun. She is becoming more interactive everyday and my life goal has become chasing her laughs, so not much time for blog writing.
As I mentioned in my Part I, I don’t focus on pre or post natal nutrition clinically, but I thought I’d share how I am managing. Those first few months were tough, Piper had colic and I couldn’t work out her trigger (read, I also didn’t want to admit it). I completely removed dairy from my diet and had her on a herbal colic mixture. The change from screaming non-sleeping baby to what I have now is insane. There have definitely been days where I just wish I could have some cheese or greek yoghurt, but they are fleeting thoughts and I have mostly been able to find substitutes in my cooking.
My Post Natal Experience
Piper ended up being born via emergency caesarian, so my husband was on hand a lot to help me move about and with Piper. She was also born right when Covid-19 hit, and everyone was encouraged to stay home. So this meant I wasn’t able to browse the food shops like I used too, I needed Mat to go to the shops with a list. Which when I write it, it sounds easy, but he really was doing everything those first few weeks, so I was frustrated I couldn’t do something that brought me joy and some normality to my day.
Thankfully I have the most wonderful friends and family who dropped off meals for us to eat. Let me tell you, if you have a friend who has just given birth, THIS is what they need. Nourishing food. It removes just one thing from the to-do list, all she will have to think about is heat and eat. If you’re curious what would be a good dish to provide; we had quiches, curries, shepherds pie, pre-packed meals, soups and bliss balls.
Basic Post Natal Nutrition
It should be no shock to anyone, I’ve obviously been trying to eat the same way I did prior to falling pregnant (read about that here). In those first three months I was exhausted. So I definitely reached daily for more high energy snacks than I normally would. But all the mums know, when you’re sleep deprived and breast feeding – you’re HUNGRY 24/7. I would often eat fruit, but I would just as often reach for some chocolate (vegan chocolate once dairy was removed).
I have continued to eat eggs, peanut butter and other nuts and seeds whilst breastfeeding. And now that the weather warming up as we lead into summer, smoothies and salads are back on high rotation. You can get a huge amount of nutritional variety and serves of vegetables with these two dishes alone. Post natal nutrition should always be about nourishing the body. You literally have this tiny human sucking the life out of you (if you’re breastfeeding); you need to ensure you’re replenishing it.
Removing Dairy from my Diet
I am lucky enough to be breastfeeding Piper (it didn’t come easy to me – shout out to my lactation consultant!). But trying to work out her trigger, whilst healing, whilst working out how to be a mum, whilst being sleep deprived. It was hard. I have a couple of friends who’s babies were CMPI (cow milk protein intolerant), they suggested I just try removing dairy for a month. I’m thankful they did. I started slow. Removed the big guys first – cheese and greek yoghurt. Which let me tell you, as someone who LOVES mexican food, these are two greatly missed. I noticed a small difference, but it was Easter and I had dairy milk chocolate in the house. Once I finally drew a hard line in the sand, it did become easier.
Here are some swaps I have done:
// dairy milk –> rice milk (you could use any other such as almond or oat, I just like rice)
// dairy chocolate –> vegan chocolate
// cream in cooking –> a rice milk and extra virgin olive oil mix
// cheese –> I’ve just removed from my diet completely
// greek yoghurt –> coconut yoghurt
// whey protein –> organic pea protein
Post Natal Supplements
I have been taking a few intermittently, I continued taking my pre-natal vitamin everyday in the first 3 months (the 4th trimester), then sporadically since. Plus an iron supplement when I remember. I have been taking a marine collagen powder since about week 8 post-natal and adding sunflower lecithin (to try to prevent blocked milk ducts) to my smoothies or granola/yoghurt breakfasts a few times a week too.
As you can see, I’m not terribly consistent, but this is because I always try to get my nutrition from real food first.
7 months on
I had a bit of a lull in my cooking around the time Piper was 6 months. I lost motivation. We moved house. I cleaned our flat top to bottom. Then had to repeat at the house we moved into. I was still up a couple of times a night with Piper and well, I was just exhausted. When I am really tired, I don’t want to cook. So it was really basic dinners, minimal vegetables. But unfortunately, all that did was compound my exhaustion. So I did my own 21-day Reset. Having variety back in my diet was FABULOUS. Having leafy greens, fresh fruit and loads of vegetables helped me get my energy back, and with that so to my desire to cook.
Piper is now on solids, so I feel like I am food prepping a lot some days. But just like with the dairy, its only for the short term.
So the key takeaway from this is: post-natal nutrition is incredibly important in your return to pre-natal health. It is not the time to be worrying about “getting your pre-baby body back”. It should be about providing your body with all the nutrients it needs to keep going, and remember you’re also providing all the nutrients for your baby.
Until next time… x
Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Australia, Central Coast