Post-Partum Foods to Nourish Your Body
Let’s be clear, from the get-go, I don’t believe in a list of foods you are not allowed or shouldn’t have while breastfeeding. Oh, you can find lists like that in all sorts of books, online and passed around in Mommy groups. Don’t eat spicy foods, cabbage, broccoli, citrus, coffee, chocolate, dairy, wine, beer, peppers, tomatoes, wheat, and on and on and on. What you’re left with is usually a boring pile of lettuce and boneless-skinless-tasteless chicken breast. Well, I don’t buy it and never have.
I pretty much hold to the idea that if you ate it while you were pregnant, you can eat it while you are breastfeeding. Oh, there are exceptions, of course. There is that baby who has an aversion to soy or wheat or eggs. There’s that Mommy who could handle spicy just fine while pregnancy, but cannot do it during nursing. But, as a general rule, I say: DO NOT STRESS! Eat what you enjoy–as long as it nourishes your body. (Don’t load up on Pringles and Pop-tarts! That will NOT make you feel good, at all!)
All that said, there are certain foods that are powerhouses during post-partum. Your body has just given life and is now lactating to sustain that life. It helps to include certain foods that will make you feel the best, increase your energy and help you to heal faster. In addition, these things just may help increase and/or maintain your milk supply! So, win-win!
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven….a time to heal….”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3
1. BONE BROTH
You’ve heard us touting the benefits of bone broths many times on this blog. We drink it nearly every day as a part of our healthy rhythms. In post-partum, though, it’s not just a healthy little puzzle piece, it’s a powerhouse!
Broth from bones has several great healing factors:
First of all, cartilage: You’d pay a pretty penny as a supplement for the virtues found in cartilage, including gelatin, collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans, and hyaluronic acid. And think about this: your joints have been through a lot through pregnancy and birth. You’ve been stretched and pulled and pushed from the inside and out. To heal those joints, put back what the joints need–CARTILAGE!
Minerals: Bone broth is PACKED full of minerals and in a form that your body can easily absorb! It’s better than any supplement you can buy. It has calcium, magnesium, iron, silicon, sulfur, phosphorous and a host of trace minerals. Add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to the water when you are boiling your bones and you’ll extract even more minerals out of the bones.
Detoxifying the liver: Your whole body bears an extra strain during pregnancy. Your liver especially as it processes not only the fluids and toxins from your body, but that of your baby as well. In addition, you have up to a 50% increase in blood volume during pregnancy. So, your liver is working extra hard to keep up! After birth it is still working to return your body to its normal non-pregnancy state. Bone broth is especially supportive to the liver! It has traditionally been used as a liver tonic, in fact. (another reason to include it in your everyday diet!)
Hydrating: You need a lot of fluids to produce that miracle liquid in your breasts! Plus, through labor you’ve likely lost a lot of fluid via the amniotic fluid, sweat, tears, pee and blood loss. Bone broth is one of the best things you can drink to put fluid back! Better than Gatorade, juice or any other commercially available hydrating drink. And it’s cheaper, too!
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
No matter how wonderful and empowering your birth experience you can be fatigued afterwards. Think of running a marathon. It may be the best experience of your life and your biggest accomplishment, but you can still experience physical and emotional fatigue afterwards. You’ll need to rest and rejuvenate or you could face some depression afterwards. This is common after birth. It can mild–from a little baby blues and frequent sighing to full-blown post-partum depression. It’s wise to just be on your guard.
One such way is to include plenty of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. The standard American diet is way out of balance when it comes to fatty acids. We get an over-abundance of omega 6, thanks to yellow-seed based oils and animals raised on grain instead of grass. Yet it is the omega 3 that will protect you from depression and will help heal your cells! The following foods will provide you with lots of great omega 3, as well as being otherwise nutrient dense:
- Salmon, sardines, shrimp.
- Fermented cod liver oil
- Walnuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts
- Flax, chia, hemp and other seeds (soak them first to get maximum benefit)
- Eggs from pastured hens
3. Fermented Foods
While your body is going through it’s Olympic post-partum recovery, it can be common to be a bit immune compromised. In the early days of snuggling your baby you do not need to catch cold! Another concern is your digestion returning back to normal. Your intestines, stomach, gall bladder, etc. all have to move and settle back into their proper place and get used to functioning as they formerly did before a baby was bouncing on them and kicking them night and day. Healthy gut flora helps immensely in both these things. Just say no to colds and constipation!
So, include lots of healthy fermented foods full of live and active bacteria and yeast! Your body will thank you!
- Yogurt (made from full-fat dairy, with no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or colors)
- Sauerkraut (the real stuff. Learn to make it with Sandor Katz. Super easy!)
- Kefir and Kombucha
He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His
arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with
young. Isaiah 40:11
Remember that post-partum is a time to rest and heal and to focus on your baby and your own body. Let the other things of life take second place as you put first things first.