How long is the postpartum period? Conventional medicine defines it as the first 12 weeks post-birth. But the truth is, that for many women, the postpartum period can stretch for many months and years. Our bodies go through a series of changes in postpartum and it’s important to focus on our nutrition for optimal recovery to ensure that we avoid long-lasting postpartum symptoms.
There are a few factors that women can focus on to ensure that they are promoting healing and nutrient replenishment. These are the top 3 factors that make a big difference in postpartum healing.
The best postpartum recovery foods
The first factor is ensuring that you’re eating nutrient-dense foods. Here are the top 5 foods I recommend to clients and friends to promote postpartum recovery:
- Bone Broth – Bone broth is nutrient-dense and super abundant in collagen. It is a protein building block that helps to repair and strengthen tissues in the uterus, abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Collagen is often found in the tendons and tissues of animals and when it gets exposed to heat, collagen breaks down into gelatin which the body can more easily utilize. You can sip bone broth alone or add it to soups and stews. You can also try gelatin gummies.
- Seaweed – Seaweed is a nutrient powerhouse and a great addition to a postpartum diet. It contains higher levels of iron, calcium, and iodine. Iodine is required to support thyroid health. Without enough iodine, the thyroid is unable to produce enough of the hormones that keep us feeling energized. Snack on dried sheets between meals, sprinkle it on a salad or add it to a delicious soup.
- Organ Meats – The most common organ meats consumed by humans come from cows and chickens. While organ meats may not be the most palatable, our ancient ancestors loved this nutrient-dense food. Organ meats are full of vitamin B12, folate, vitamins A, D, E, and K, and iron. Beef liver specifically is also full of choline – which is huge for postpartum (and pregnancy!). Chicken livers tend to be super high in folate, which is also helpful for postpartum.
- Eggs – Eggs are one of my favourite foods during pregnancy and postpartum. They are a great source of high-quality protein, copper, choline and DHA. DHA can pass into the breastmilk helping to support brain development and growth of the baby. It is important to source local when you can and always organic.
- Fatty fish and Shellfish– This is huge for both mom and baby! The big thing to take note of is to always source wild-caught fish that is low in mercury and other heavy metals. I like to recommend salmon, cod, sardines, etc. You can also explore shellfish, as it is full of essential trace minerals. Shellfish tend to have a lot of zinc, folate, selenium, copper and more.
Balance your blood sugar
The next thing that I encourage clients to focus on is balancing blood sugar postpartum. Oftentimes, women forget that they need to be eating often and enough to support the healing taking place within the body. Here are a few quick tips for blood sugar balance:
- It’s important to focus on nourishing yourself postpartum – be sure to eat breakfast within 45 minutes of waking up and every 2-3 hours after that. Keep snacks on hand and have ample options!
- Snacks should be focused on protein and carb or protein and fat – this helps the body process this food efficiently as fuel.
- Snacks before bed can also be helpful in the first and third trimesters to keep you asleep and avoid the need to get up in the middle of the night to eat (some of my favourite night-time snacks include yogurt, toast with nut butter or ghee, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
- Try to eat roughly 2200-2600 calories a day! Remember the body needs fuel!
The best supplements to take postpartum
The last factor that plays a large role in postpartum is adequate supplementation. During the postpartum period, it is important to focus on the following supplements:
- Plan to continue on a postnatal vitamin, like Everydae’s Mama Recovery. A great postnatal vitamin has all of the essential vitamins and minerals for healing, alongside DHA for brain health for both mama and baby.
- Beef liver is like nature's multivitamin and offers several vitamins and minerals that support postpartum healing and the recent nutrient depletion (beef liver is high in folate, B vitamins, zinc, etc.).
- A great probiotic to support the gut health of both mama and baby (there are several great brands that are great for overall gut health).
- It's also important to focus on stress, mood and anxiety support – I’m a huge fan of the Mood Support from Everydae. The postpartum period can be stressful and taxing on the body, so it is important to provide support.
Katie Braswell, of Wild + Well, is a Holistic Nutritionist based in Chattanooga, TN. Katie’s specific areas of interest are preconception health, fertility, prenatal nutrition and supplementation, gestational diabetes, breastfeeding and postpartum care (focusing on nurturing mama and baby).
**Wild + Well does not provide any medical advice and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be and nothing you read here should be taken as medical advice.**