I don't think anything can prepare you for the overwhelming experience of becoming a mum for the first time. There's the amazing love you have for your little arrival, but there's also the relentless exhaustion, broken nights and the sometimes stressful task of working out just what this parenting thing is all about!
I'm quickly learning that what I put into my body can make a huge difference to how I feel as I recover from pregnancy and birth, and navigate life with our little girl Charlotte. Here are some tips for ways to stay nourished in those first few months after having a baby.
Opting for nutrient-dense food has never been more important – a new mother needs to build up vitamin and mineral stores, which are often depleted from pregnancy and birth, while producing enough milk to feed her new baby.
If you're thinking about a gift for new parents, a healthy home-cooked meal is hard to beat. Or if you're passing by, how about dropping in a nourishing lunch or snack? Even the smallest gesture will be so appreciated
It's tempting to reach for sugar-laden snacks for a quick lift, but wholegrain foods, such as oats and brown bread, will help keep your energy levels constant. Oats are also rich in iron, calcium and magnesium, plus they're great for keeping your digestive system regular.
Hydration is vital for new mums, so make sure you're drinking at least 10 to 15 glasses of water a day.
Low iron levels are common after pregnancy and birth, so include plenty of green leafy vegetables and red meat in your diet. You'll be thankful for the energy boost they give.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I've been given – grab the chance to catch up on sleep whenever you can. The dishes and washing can wait. It's far better for both parents and their baby if exhaustion levels are kept in check.
Postnatal depression affects around 15% of new mums in New Zealand, but research shows eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – such as oily fish like salmon, anchovies and sardines, as well as walnuts and chia seeds – can make a difference to our mental wellbeing. To help ward off the baby blues, try to include these in your meals a few times a week.
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