You probably have heard a lot about eating right if you plan to get pregnant. You've probably also heard that a particular diet should be followed during pregnancy. Though the food you eat during pregnancy is essential to your baby's health, it isn't the only time that your diet matters. After giving birth, many women find themselves with decreased appetites and cravings due to hormone changes—and this can put them at risk for nutrient deficiencies if they don't make sure they're getting enough calories and nutrients from food!
Nutrition during pregnancy
If you're reading this, it's likely because you're pregnant. Congratulations!
It's important to remember that nutrition is essential for both the mother and her baby. Certain nutrients help ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery and support the health of both mother and baby postpartum. The following section outlines what nutrients are most important during each trimester:
First Trimester: To protect your growing baby from harmful viruses or bacteria in food that could cause illness or miscarriage, including salmon (which has high levels of mercury), tuna (which may contain mercury), or foods containing raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise salad dressing recipes made with uncooked eggs should be avoided until after 12 weeks into your pregnancy when the risk of contamination is lower than earlier on in the first trimester (especially if your immune system hasn't had time yet to build up its defenses).
Nutrition for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients, protein, and fats your growing baby needs to thrive, along with antibodies that help protect him from infections. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), asthma, allergies, and other illnesses later in life.
There are three phases to breastfeeding:
The first phase is when you are working on getting your milk supply up so you can breastfeed exclusively (meaning that only an occasional bottle feeding is necessary during this time). This phase lasts roughly one month.
The second phase is introducing solid foods into your child's diet while continuing to breastfeed or pump regularly until at least six months after birth (although some doctors recommend continuing breastfeeding for at least a year). This phase typically lasts six months but may be longer depending on how long it takes for solid foods to replace most of their nutritional needs with those provided by breast milk alone instead.* Finally, there's weaning--which usually happens sometime between two and five years old depending on how long both parents want their child around before they move on with life!
Food to avoid while breastfeeding
Alcohol. Alcohol passes from the mother's bloodstream to the baby through breast milk, so avoid all alcohol while breastfeeding.
Sugar. Caffeine, sugar, and other sweeteners can cause your baby to have an increase in blood sugar levels that can make your child fussy or sleepy. This may be especially true for newborns who are still learning about eating and drinking independently!
Sodium (salt). The sodium in foods like deli meats and cheese can be dangerous for your little one, who is still developing his kidneys. Limit foods with added salt, but don't eliminate them altogether—they're good protein sources!
Processed foods. Processed foods such as cakes, cookies, and candy often contain artificial ingredients that aren't very healthy for babies (and they're not exactly good for you, either!). If you want to indulge yourself with a treat once in a while, then go right ahead—just remember: moderation is key!
Postpartum nutrition supplements
Postpartum supplements are a great way to provide your body with the nutrients it needs during postpartum recovery.
Vitamin D3, 2,000 IU per day: This may help protect against breast milk insufficiency and ensures your body can easily absorb calcium from food.
Calcium citrate malate or carbonate (1,000 mg per day): This helps build strong bones for you and your baby.
Multivitamin with iron (30 mg elemental iron): Ensures healthy blood cell formation in both you and your baby and other essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, B12, zinc, and magnesium.
The diet you consume during and after pregnancy is equally important to you and your baby's health.
It's easy to forget that you aren't just feeding yourself regarding prenatal nutrition. Your baby depends entirely on your body for food, and the diet you consume during and after pregnancy is equally important to your health.
Eat a well-balanced diet. The foods you eat should contain all the nutrients needed for the proper development of your child and your own body. Ensure there are vegetables and fruits in every meal, and some protein, such as eggs, fish, or lean meats like chicken breast.
Take supplements with folic acid (vitamin B9). This nutrient is essential for preventing birth defects such as spina bifida; it can also help prevent postpartum depression by aiding in neuron development in infants' brains.* Be careful about what you eat during lactation because it may pass into breast milk, affecting how much nutrition reaches newborns.*
The postpartum period is an excellent opportunity to kick off healthy habits that will last you throughout your life. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest and exercise, and stay connected with other moms, so you don't feel alone in your journey through this exciting time.