The fourth trimester is a period of time honored in many cultures around the world where the mother rests and focuses on eating postpartum healing foods, resting, and bonding with her baby with the help of her family and community. While this practice isn’t as common in western cultures, there are many ways that all new mothers can support their own postpartum healing and fourth trimester.
Postpartum Healing Foods For Your Fourth Trimester
While there is no one size fits all postpartum nutrition plan for everyone, the following are some of the best postpartum healing foods that will help promote postpartum healing, support breastfeeding, and replenish your nutrient and energy stores for the busy days and nights ahead.
What Are Postpartum Healing Foods?
After pregnancy your body has a lot of work to do to replenish depleted nutrients, heal your body from labor, and produce breastmilk to feed your baby. For all of these reasons consuming a variety of postpartum healing foods is essential for supporting your recovery and baby, but as any new and sleep deprived mom can attest, feeding yourself well during those early weeks can feel nearly impossible. This is why creating a postpartum nutrition plan ahead of time is so essential and can help to take the thought and energy out of feeding yourself during those early weeks.
To help get you started, the following are some gentle guidelines and some of our favorite recipes to shape your postpartum nutrition:
Choose Warm, Easy To Digest Foods
Around the world, traditional cultures consistently focus on prioritizing warm, soft, and easy to digest foods during the postpartum period. This theme of warmth can be found in the Indian Ayurvedic practice to Chinese Medicine and all the way to Latin America, where one of the primary goals is to keep the new mother and baby warm.
Aside from traditional practices, during labor your body goes through a significant transformation that requires a lot of energy, and healing after the birth of your baby. As your body begins to prioritize healing after birth, it is normal for your digestion to become quite slow as energy is sent elsewhere for healing and your inner organs begin to find their way back to their normal positions.
Since cold and raw foods tend to be harder on our digestive systems, it is best during the early postpartum weeks to focus on consuming mostly warm and easy to digest foods that will help to gently support your digestion and your body’s recovery.
Prioritize Healthy Fats
Fats play a key role in supporting your baby’s central nervous system development and are also one of the best sources of energy that we can choose to help balance blood sugar and promote satiety.
Some of my favorite healthy fats to stock in your pantry are: coconut oil, avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, olives, ghee, organic goat cheese, nut butters, seeds, salmon and sardines (high in omega-3 fatty acids).
Continue Taking Your Prenatal Vitamin Postpartum
Continuing to take your prenatal multivitamin will help you fill the gaps in your diet that are important for your postpartum recovery and will help support breastfeeding with targeted nutrients. Since mothers are often depleted of essential nutrients postpartum it is more important than ever to keep up with your prenatal routine.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Time to invest in a giant reusable water bottle because staying hydrated is so important during the postpartum period! Not only is your body going to be flushing a lot of the excess fluid retained during pregnancy and labor, it also will be creating a new liquid food for your baby – breastmilk. So make sure to keep some big water bottles filled with room temperature water at your bedside and wherever you tend to nurse your baby.
Keep Nutrient Dense Snacks On Hand
Being a new mom and especially a nursing mom requires A LOT of energy. Breastfeeding alone burns upwards of 500 calories a day, which is why keeping nutrient dense snacks on hand is so important and will help keep you from turning to junk food in ravenous hunger.
Some of my favorite snacks for new moms are ones that can be made ahead of time, are high in healthy fats and protein, and can be eaten one handed:
- Overnight oats (make ahead and keep in the fridge, serve warm)
- Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Balls (keep in the freezer, serve at room temp)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Mini frittata egg cups (can keep in freezer and heat up)
- Protein Rich Banana Blueberry Muffins
- Oatmeal Lactation Cookies
Support Regular Digestion With Fiber And Magnesium
As most new moms can attest, your digestion can be quite slow during pregnancy and in the immediate days and weeks after labor. In order to help reduce constipation and support the healing of your pelvic floor, it is a great idea to focus on adding easy to digest fiber rich foods like oats, chia seeds, prunes, and vegetable stews to your diet.
I personally find that most women (myself included) can also benefit from a magnesium supplement as a part of their postpartum nutrition plan, which not only can help support regular digestion, but can also help improve relaxation and help you get better sleep! Something all new parents are very much in need of with a newborn baby at home.
Eat A Variety Of Colorful, Anti-Inflammatory Foods (Ideally Cooked)
Eating a rainbow of colors really is the best way that you can ensure you are getting a wide variety of antioxidant rich anti-inflammatory foods into your postpartum diet, which will help to reduce inflammation and help your body to heal. Foods like dark leafy greens, bright berries, vitamin C rich vegetables, warming spices like turmeric and ginger, and healthy fats from olives, avocados, and salmon are all great foods to prioritize in your postpartum nutrition. Ideally try cooking or sautéing these foods in the early postpartum weeks to help encourage warmth in your body and support your digestion.
The Best Postpartum Healing Foods To Add To Your Diet
The following are just a few of my favorite fourth trimester postpartum healing foods that pack a lot of nutrients and energy, and are perfect for supporting the needs of new and nursing moms.
- Rolled Oats
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Bone Broth
- Organic/Grass Fed Meat
- Pasture Raised Eggs
- Healthy Fats (Avocado, Coconut, Nut Butter, Ghee, Olive Oil)
- Warming Spices (Turmeric, Cinnamon)
- Herbal Teas
- Probiotic Rich Foods (Kombucha, Kimchi, Sauerkraut)
- Low Mercery Fatty Fish (Salmon, Sardines)
- Warm Cooked Grains
- Vegetable Rich Soups/Stews
- Nut Butters
- Seasonal Fruit/Berries (Ideally eaten cooked and warm)
- Leafy Greens (Ideally eaten cooked and warm)
Foods To Consider Avoiding In The Early Postpartum Weeks
While you don’t need to avoid the following foods completely, it is a good idea to think about limiting them while you are adjusting to new motherhood and your body is recovering. The following foods tend to be stimulating and stressful on the nervous and digestive systems, which is the last thing your body needs as it tries to heal and take care of a new baby.
- Cold desserts
- Heavy, hard to digest meals
- Processed and refined oil/fried food
- Refined Sugar
- Cold drinks, meals, and snacks