Despite the undeniable fact that our nutritional needs increase in the later stages of pregnancy as well as postpartum, more often than not, we are not meeting those increased needs. A recent study found that because of this, we are at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D, folate and iron. This same study also found that during the postpartum period, intakes of fiber, vitamin E & C also were decreased as compared to during pregnancy.
What Nutrients Are Most Important Postpartum
While all nutrients play important roles in postpartum healing, a few are especially worth highlighting:
- Vitamin D: Otherwise known as the sunshine nutrient, vitamin D plays an important role in the body way beyond bone health. In fact, studies have shown that low vitamin D postpartum is associated with greater risk for postpartum depression. We also know that vitamin D is important for immune health.
- Vitamin C: Often thought of synonymously with immunity, vitamin C is crucial for support in strengthening the body’s natural defenses at a time when they are usually lowered as a result of poor sleep and hormonal shifts.
- Iron: Delivery leads to a rapid loss of iron. Adequate levels of iron are associated with more desirable levels of energy. Foods richest in iron are those that are animal-based, and because we’re often on the go, grabbing what we can postpartum, it can be hard to get in enough iron.
This is why WeNatal was formulated in a way to support not only the prenatal and perinatal period but also the postnatal period with optimal levels of 24 essential micronutrients to support gaps you may have in reaching those essential nutrient requirements.
What Can I Do To Support My Health Postpartum
If you’ve been in that postpartum period before, you know that the ability to consume a balanced, thoughtful meal and really prioritize yourself at all can feel far fetched. For this post, we’ve partnered with Katie Duda – a certified nutritionist and gut health coach, Integrative Health Practitioner and mama of two little ones – to walk us through some supportive steps for postpartum. And if you’re interested in learning more about reading through these points, she has a podcast episode devoted to the topic of hormonal support during this period!
Lean Into Warm, Nutrient-Dense Foods. Your body experiences some major shifts in digestion after giving birth, so it is that much more important that you lean into warm foods that are easy to digest (thoroughly cooking veggies, soups, bone broth, warm chia puddings, etc.) vs. cold, raw foods. Here are a few of our favorite postpartum, nutrient-dense but doable meals.
- It can be really helpful to cook a stew like this one so that you have an easy meal to make & to grab! A simple way to make this meal also rich in fiber to support digestion is to add baby spinach at the bottom of the bowl and pour the hot stew on top. It will wilt pretty much right away! Or add a handful of sprouts on top!
- A grass-fed beef or turkey chili
- Crockpot chicken. Make pulled chicken with this recipe and switch up the sauces – from BBQ to buffalo to no soy teriyaki – to mix up the flavors!
- Bolognese. Great to make and freeze. Top it over whatever veggies you have lying around and some spaghetti squash or higher fiber pasta (we like Tolerant Foods!)
- One Pan Dinner = Two Words: Simple Cleanup. We’ve got you with this nutrient-dense meal of chicken, veggies & delicata squash.
- SEE FULL RECIPES HERE & BELOW
Protein, Protein & More Protein! Personally, I aim for 100-120g of protein/ day given my body weight and aim to get 30-40g/ meal- with breakfast being one that I will NEVER skimp on. My go to is 3 pasture-raised eggs, 1/4 avocado, organic turkey sausage, and a piece of GF toast. Protein is so key for healing postpartum and for immune support as well. Below are a few additional ways to get in some easy protein.
- Sip on a quality bone broth like Fond; one jar can have about 30 gm protein.
- Grab 3 hard boiled eggs with a higher fiber toast and grass-fed butter or olive oil. Vital Farms even sells premade hard boiled eggs!
- Quality grass-fed Greek yogurt like Maple Hill Creamery or Stonyfield
- Good Culture Cottage Cheese
- Applegate turkey with sliced apple
- Edamame: Get the frozen version and just heat and add salt!
- Grass-fed beef stick & a piece of fruit or chopped veggies
Support The Gut. Key foods to focus on to support a healthy microbiome include fermented veggies (like kimchi), spore-based probiotics, and really focusing on eating with minimal distractions as that significantly impairs digestion. The above yogurt & cottage cheese are good high protein options that are also rich in gut health supporting probiotics.
Keep Up With My Prenatal. WeNatal is my obvious choice because it has not only the optimal forms of each nutrient to ensure maximal absorption but in the optimal levels as well. I continue to take my prenatal when in the postpartum period to avoid postnatal depletion which impacts over 80% of mamas!
In addition to nutrition, Katie recommends focusing on Low Impact Workouts. Choosing lighter movement – like walking, yoga, low impact strength training – over HIIT is favorable for desirable recovery postpartum. Our sex hormones – namely estrogen and progesterone – remain elevated all throughout pregnancy, but then take a nosedive after delivery. With low sex hormones, our bodies are less resilient to stress, so it is best to stick to lower impact workouts. Personally, I stick to low impact workouts until my period returns, and then I can start to practice cycle syncing according to my hormones.
For more tips to reduce your likelihood of developing postnatal depletion, check out our recent blog by holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque!
See our full recipes for postpartum HERE!!