All moms know that growing a baby is hard work. Mentally and physically it takes a lot energy, which is why we need to do everything possible to nutritionally support our body and ultimately our baby.
If nutritional deficiencies occur during pregnancy, generally the baby will get the nutrient first. The reality is, depletion becomes more of an issue if the mother does not consciously replenish her stores. If left unnoticed or unattended the deficiency can become even more problematic once the baby is born.
For mothers who are breastfeeding, our nutrient demand becomes even greater. From birth to six months of age, a new mom typically produces 19-30 ounces of milk and feeds her baby anywhere from eight to 12 times a day. On average, 400-600 calories are burned daily from breastfeeding.
I cannot stress enough how important proper nutrition is during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. You are the lifeline of your baby. I know that all new moms understand what they put on or in their body will probably end up in their baby. However, translating this fact into healthy eating habits and nutritious food choices, does not always happen.
If you diet consists of processed and packaged food, your babies does to. I find there can be a bit of a disconnect between moms diet and ultimately the health and wellness of her baby.
When our diet suffers our baby suffers.
Ultimately obtaining nutrients through our diet is ideal. Unfortunately, certain nutrients that are critical for the health of mom and baby are not always easily obtained through diet alone.
Found in very few natural food sources in limited amounts. A supplemental dose of 4000 IU/day has been found to maintain vitamin D sufficiency in the mother and also raise vitamin D in breast milk to the point at which no further infant supplementation is required.
According to the APA, the essential Omega-3 fatty acid DHA significantly contributes to the healthy development of your child’s brain, eyes, immune and nervous systems. This nutrient can affect your child’s behavior, learning ability and focus, so ensuring optimal levels is critical.
Although DHA can be found in fish, both the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers avoid certain types of fish due to high levels of mercury or other contaminants. As a result, doctors may recommend a supplement, especially if breastfeeding.
Can be difficult to obtain adequate iron through diet alone. Which is why Health Canada recommends a daily supplement containing 16 to 20 mg of iron during pregnancy and lactation.
Dietary sources of iron include a variety of beef, fish, nut butters, legumes, pumpkin and spinach.
It is also advised moms continue supplementing with folate after giving birth due to its important role in blood and heart health.
Consuming a wide variety of folate-rich foods including lentils, Brewer’s yeast, black beans, okra, spinach, beets, collard greens and asparagus are all good ways of increasing folate through diet.
Given nursing moms have increased needs for zinc, it’s important to include a wide variety of lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, into your diet.
Eating a whole foods, plant based, organic diet, should be a number one priority for all new moms. Although not always possible, doing your best whenever you can, as often as you can, is a step in the right direction.
After pregnancy it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare practitioner about blood work or other tests that can help identify potential postpartum deficiencies.
Many women find that pregnancy can bring on additional digestive disturbances, postpartum depression, low energy, hormonal imbalances or thyroid issues. Spending the time to look at the root cause of these issues, often through the lens of diet and lifestyle is always a good idea.
Have you experienced any deficiencies after pregnancy? What are you doing to maintain a healthy diet? How do you make time for proper nutrition as a new mom? Please share your experiences below.