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Postpartum Diet | not very different from your pregnancy diet

Postpartum diet is not very different from your pregnancy diet, except for some changes here and there. You will still have to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, protein foods to heal and build on energy and milk supply. What you eat now can pass through the breast milk to your baby but you don't have to be as finicky as you were when you were pregnant.

Your diet will differ moderately because now you can eat more of tuna, halibut and other deep-sea varieties which you had to limit before. You can now consume soft cheeses and deli meats which you had to avoid before. You can drink coffee in moderation – a cup a day maybe. You can gradually eat less except if you are breastfeeding because then your calorie intake has to match up.

This is not a time to diet – your body needs more calories to manufacture breast milk. It is also not the time to smoke or consume large amounts of caffeine or alcohol. What you do need is simple, easy to prepare healthy meals which contain good levels of protein, iron and calcium to keep you and your milk in top form.

If you are breastfeeding you should not focus on getting back to your 'normal size' immediately. Instead shift your attention to maintaining your energy level and providing ample nutrition to yourself and your baby. At the same time there are things you can do that will speed up post-pregnancy weight loss without compromising on your well-being.

• A new mother gets back to her pre-pregnancy weight faster if she were to breastfeed. For your body to produce breast milk it uses about 100-150 calories a day from fat that your body naturally stored while pregnant. That explains why breastfeeding mothers often lose pregnancy pounds faster.

• New mothers should avoid food and drinks with empty calories; this includes sodas as they are laden with artificial colors, preservatives and empty calories. The logic behind this is that such foods contain chemicals which your liver has to process. By avoiding such foods you will allow your liver to focus on the immediate task at hand, which is to flush out excess chemicals associated with pregnancy and birth.

• You need to stay well-hydrated while breastfeeding. Drink lots of fluids, especially water. A hormone called oxytocin is released by your body that will make you thirsty when breastfeeding. It is recommended to drink 8-12 glasses of water daily.

• During the breastfeeding phase, especially the first 6 weeks new mothers should not use any diet aids to lose weight. Many diet aids contain stimulants that can have an adverse effect on the recovering mother and her baby.

• On average a breastfeeding mother's diet should include no less than 2700 calories on daily basis, with 60-70 grams of protein.

• Fat is the prerequisite for the human immune system and it also promotes mental health. You need fat in order to survive. You can save on calories by eating protein rich foods such as eggs, nuts and seeds and lean meat.

• If there is a decrease in milk production (evidenced by less milk being pumped than usual or a hungry baby after nursing) the mother should up her fats and proteins. If this doesn't help, seek assistance from the lactation consultant.

If you were over your ideal weight before becoming pregnant and now want to lose the pounds, eat less of the following:

• Processed carbohydrates such as breads, pastas and cereals

• Grains such as rice, wheat, oats

• Starchy fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and bananas

• Large beans such as kidney beans

• Juices and dried fruits

• Alcohol, beer and wine included

• Eat more of fruits with low glycemic index such as berries, cherries, apples, oranges and grapefruits.

• Consume protein foods (50-70 g) every day.

• Eat more of non-starchy veges such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, cucumber, celery, mushrooms. They are fiber and vitamin rich and contain fewer calories.

• Make the effort to drink 2 full glasses of water before each meal – this will help control your appetite. Make sports drink by mixing sea salt and honey to water – this will give you the required minerals necessary for breastfeeding and to stay active.

Your body will take a few months to get back to normal but it pays to remember that the breastfeeding process is nutritionally demanding for a mother. It is a very good idea to continue with an all round supplement – a lot of new mums continue taking their prenatal vitamin supplement. However vitamins and minerals should not be used to make up for poor eating habits.

Your supplement should contain

• Vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy and help in the manufacture of collagen which boosts the quality of your skin (collagen keeps your skin firm and smooth.

• Iron requirements lower after baby is born to about 9mg until you resume menstruation, in which case it will have to increase to 18mg. A lot of women are low in this mineral – you can improve your situation with a safe dose of iron supplement and making changes to your diet.

• Calcium continues to be important especially if you are breastfeeding. The recommended amount of 1000mg for women over 19 stays. You will also need vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, and magnesium to assist in the absorption of this mineral.

• The B vitamins help to keep you energized, calm your nerves, balance your hormones and generally keep you fit. Some B vitamins deserve a special mention – B12, folic and B6. B12 and B6 become important if you are breastfeeding and care has to be taken to ensure you are not missing out on them. Folic is important especially if you are considering another pregnancy soon.

Finally finding time and energy becomes a major thing in the initial weeks - you definitely need help for the first month. Though your baby is of prime importance, so are you. Some tips to help you get by:

• Eat breakfast: you need to start your day with a good breakfast. Whatever happens never skip meals, especially breakfast.

• Don't let yourself get too hungry or thirsty: by doing that your already fragile state will not be able to handle pressures and added to that you may add low blood sugar to the mix. Let it be nuts and raisins or a snack bar or some fruit or juice, grab something regularly to keep your energy level up.

• Cook simple: don't attempt fancy elaborate meals. You just won't have time or patience to handle that.

• Organize the shopping: you need to stock your fridge and cupboards with handy snacks and easy-to-prepare foods – it becomes easier to grab something nutritious between baby-feeds or fix yourself something simple while baby sleeps. Don't go overboard with the shopping else you will end up lugging around heavy bags. Once you are more confident with your baby, take him along and do your shopping in bits and pieces.

• Don't eat when you are anxious: if you have had a rough day running around doing stuffs, gulping down food will only worsen things by giving you indigestion. Take time to relax with glass of water or herb tea before you begin your meal.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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