Tips for New Moms to Start Healthy Eating Habits
It’s not uncommon to feel down in the first few months after childbirth. Your body is recovering physically and mentally from labor and delivery, you’re dealing with postpartum hormonal swings, and you’re adjusting to life with the newest; most demanding member of your family. All of this can leave you feeling exhausted, cranky, and anxious. And while feeding yourself may be last on your to-do list, eating healthy foods, having regular meals and snacks, and following a few simple nutrition strategies can help boost your energy level and your mood. Read on for PINK’s best tips.
Tip #1 If you feel that you are in need of some help, please contact PINK Newborn Services. We will provide you with a nurturing and knowledgeable service to help make this time as enjoyable as possible for your family.
Note: If you suspect you’re suffering from postpartum depression rather than a temporary case of the “baby blues”, tell your doctor or care provider right away. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that requires treatment, and though a healthy diet can improve your mood, it can’t substitute for professional help. Warning signs for PPD include insomnia, a change in appetite, weepiness or sadness that persists all day, and thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.
Tip #2 Stock up on omega-3 oils
Although research on the effects of omega-3 oils — found mainly in fish and some nuts and seeds — is still in the early stages, studies have found that countries whose populations eat large amounts of fish have lower overall rates of depression, including a lower incidence of postpartum depression among new moms.
Pediatrician James Sears, co-author of The Baby Book, tells new mothers to stock up on foods rich in omega 3 oils — like wild salmon, flaxseed oil, and walnuts — which he believes enhance brain function and can help with depression. Omega-3 oils really help the brain work better.
PINK experts recommend having a gram (1,000 mg) of omega-3 oils a day. That’s roughly the amount you’ll get from any one of the following ingredients:
- 2 teaspoons walnut oil
- 2.5 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/3 teaspoon flaxseed oil
- 1.5 oz. herring
- 2 to 3 oz. of cooked salmon
- 4 oz. of canned albacore tuna (not “light” tuna, which contains much less omega-3)
- 1/2 oz. walnuts
Omega-3-fortified eggs are also an option — two eggs will provide about half the daily allotment recommended above, or more, depending on the brand.
Supplements are a good idea if you’re having trouble getting enough omega 3’s from the foods you eat, for instance if you’re limiting your fish intake because of mercury concerns. (Nursing moms should eat no more than 12 ounces of cooked fish or canned “light” tuna a week, according to FDA/EPA guidelines, and avoid having more than 6 ounces of canned albacore tuna.) Omega-3 supplements made from fish body oils are considered safe for nursing moms — a 2001 analysis found no detectable levels of mercury or toxins in the top-selling brands. But avoid cod liver oil supplements if you’re breastfeeding, because they can contain excessive amounts of vitamins A and D.
If you’re taking a supplement, read the label to determine how much omega-3 fatty acid each capsule contains. If you can, buy supplements in 500- or 300-mg doses and take two or three pills a day to equal 1,000 or 900 mg. Spreading your pills out across the day lessens the chance of having side effects like diarrhea, bloating, and nausea.
Tip #3 Don’t skimp on protein
It’s especially important to get enough protein in your diet now. The brain needs proteins like those found in dairy products, soy, lean meats, and fish to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has a calming effect on the brain. (Note: Carbohydrates are also an important part of this process, so aim for a balanced diet, not one that restricts carbs.) To increase your protein intake, try scrambled eggs for breakfast, a turkey or roast beef sandwich for lunch, and yogurt or some cheese and crackers at snack time.
Protein recommendations are 71 grams a day for nursing moms and 46 grams a day for non-nursing moms. To get a sense of how much protein is in various foods, see the list below.
- 3 oz. chicken, turkey, or meat = 25 grams protein
- 3 oz. fish = 20 grams protein
- Two-and-a-half 8-oz. glasses milk = 20 grams protein
- three 8-oz. glasses soy milk = 20 grams protein
- Three large eggs = 19 grams protein
- 3 oz. Swiss cheese = 15 grams protein
- 1 cup firm tofu = 20 grams protein
- 2 cups yogurt = 22 grams protein
- 6 tablespoons peanut butter = 24 grams protein
- 3 oz. dry-roasted peanuts = 21 grams protein
- 1 1/2 cups cooked beans such as chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, baked beans, pinto beans, refried beans, or black beans = between 18 and 22 grams protein
- 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils = 27 grams protein
Dehydration may make the blues worse — in fact, fatigue and anxiety are also symptoms of moderate dehydration. So drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty (by the time you notice your thirst, mild dehydration may have already kicked in). This is especially important in the early days of breastfeeding, when nursing can make you extra thirsty. Grab a tall glass of water, juice, or even decaf iced tea before sitting down to nurse your baby.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, or contact Pink Newborn Services at 1-877-456-PINK. We love to help every step of the way!