Guest Blog: Dr Vivian Lord - Post Natal Nutrition and Recovery

20th August 2018

               

The postnatal period is an especially important time for you to support and nourish yourself.  There is often so much focus on the baby that your health can take backseat, but in reality it’s often the most important through this time!

Between the sleepless nights, not having time to cook or plan meals, and having one or more children to look after during the post natal period, you can easily find yourself skipping meals and surviving off of sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine to keep up your energy.  This can leave you feeling like you’re on a roller coaster of mood and energy swings, and struggling through insomnia and exhaustion. 

Nourishing your body after your baby arrives can help you heal and transition smoothly from pregnancy, have steadier energy and moods, sleep better at night between feeds, and overall feel more balanced and like yourself.

Here are a few simple, doable tips to support your post natal energy and wellness.

1.     Include protein in each meal and snack - Protein gives your body a long-lasting nutrient-dense fuel source compared to sugar, baked goods, chocolate and caffeine.   Protein foods include fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, pulses, and organic dairy.  Including a full serving of protein in each meal and snack will keep you well supported and energized.

2.     Include iron rich foods –Replenishing iron stores after labour is another powerful way to support your energy levels.   In addition to taking your prenatal that contains iron for the first 8 weeks and while breastfeeding, include plenty of iron-rich food in your diet.  This includes spinach, turmeric, Swiss chard, asparagus, leeks, treacle, lean organic beef, organic chicken, beans and lentils and cashews.  Tip: to maximize absorption of vegetarian iron sources combine them with high vitamin C foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits and berries.

3.     Support your body with key nutrients – Taking 1000-2000 IU/day of vitamin D depending on your levels*, 1500mg of a good quality, purified omega 3 fish oils including EPA and DHA, alongside continuing to take your antenatal vitamin for the first 8 weeks or until you wean will support your body through this time.  Nutritive teas including red raspberry leaf and nettle leaf tea can also speed up labour recovery and support your milk supply.

4.     Nourish your stress response system – your stress response system, more formally known as your Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis is an integral part of your hormonal system.   A class of herbs called “adaptogens” is particularly helpful and many of them are safe to take while breastfeeding.   Some common adaptogenic herbs include rhodiola rosea, reishi mushroom, and ashwagandha.  Adaptogenic herbs help your body adapt to change, balance your stress response, and help you feel more calm and resilient.  You will want to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner to find the right fit for your body’s needs.

And of course be patient as you recover.  You may feel pressure to get back into your usual lifestyle, exercise routine, or lose weight soon after birth.   Allowing your body to recover from your pregnancy and transition into motherhood, along with stepping back into exercise in a way that matches your body’s needs can help you avoid burnout.  Working together with a WHP is an essential part of this!

By prioritizing your health alongside that of your baby’s, being gentle with yourself, and nourishing your body with the tips I shared, you are off to a great start with your new arrival! 

* Optimal vitamin D level is  100-125 mmol/L

 

Dr. Vivian Lord, ND is a twin mum and naturopathic physician with an expertise in natural approaches to women’s health and hormones. Food as medicine is the cornerstone of her practice alongside functional lab testing, nutrient therapy, herbal medicine and ongoing coaching and support to help her clients make changes that stick.  She offers a 45-minute complimentary intro call to women seeking natural solutions for their health and can be reached at info@drvivianlord.com

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