Postpartum Diet Guide: Best Foods To Eat For Postpartum Recovery

POSTED ON

January 9, 2022

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You may have thought a lot about your nutrition during your pregnancy, but your postpartum diet is just as important.

postpartum diet foods for nourishing the new mother

Postpartum Diet Guide: Best Foods To Eat For Postpartum Healing

While there is no one size fits all postpartum nutrition plan for everyone, the following are some of the best foods for your postpartum diet that will help promote postpartum healing, support breastfeeding, and replenish your nutrient and energy stores for the busy days and nights ahead.

salmon served over a bed of asparagus with chopped red onion and scallions

Your Fourth Trimester Postpartum Nutrition Guide

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 your postpartum diet 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 diet and 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.

postpartum diet breakfast of eggs and avocado toast to support 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).

Photo of the best postnatal vitamins and breastfeeding recipe books

Continue Taking A Postpartum Multivitamin 

A postpartum 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. Similar to how a prenatal is considered an essential part of a healthy pregnancy, a postnatal supplement plays an essential role in a healthy postpartum and recovery period. 

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. 

bright pink homemade herbal sun tea

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
oatmeal cranberry muffins in a parchment paper wrapper

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.

Ginger bok choy soup served in a bowl with chop sticks

The Best Foods To Add To Your Postpartum 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.

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Cold desserts
  • Heavy, hard to digest meals
  • Processed and refined oil/fried food
  • Refined Sugar
  • Cold drinks, meals, and snacks

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Meet Meg
Mom to a happy baby girl, and registered dietitian specializing in prenatal, postpartum, and infant wellness. My passion for supporting moms and babies began more than a decade ago, but nothing made me more committed to helping moms and babies thrive than going through my own pregnancy and postpartum journey.

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