Tips for Eating Well with a Newborn
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD
Going into pregnancy, labor, and delivery I read everything I could get my hands on about “life with a newborn”. However there really is no way to describe the emotional roller coaster you go through until you experience it yourself. With that being said, self-care is so important during this time and nutrition is one of the most important self-care aspects (in my dietitian opinion of course). Whether a mom had a vaginal birth or C-section her body just went through a MARATHON and now needs to recover. Calories, carbs, protein, fat, and all the vitamins and minerals that food provide help your body heal from labor and delivery. Here are my top 7 tips for getting in proper nutrition with a newborn.
- Don’t think “weight loss” right away: Thank your body for what it just did, it’s perfect in every way right now no matter what you weigh. Moms may also need extra calories if breastfeeding (especially from healthy fats). Make sure you take a multivitamin too.
- Try to listen to hunger and satiety: Are you eating now just because you have 5 minutes or are you truly hungry? Or are you absolutely starving because you haven’t eaten anything in 6 hours? Try not to let yourself get too hungry or too full to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
- Have snacks and easy to grab foods: I personally ate with one hand the first few weeks of my son’s life. My favorite grab and go healthy foods are sandwiches (turkey and cheese or peanut butter and banana and honey), protein bars, trail mix, hard boiled eggs, roasted chicpeas, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit. Also packing some of these staples in your diaper bag is a good idea.
- Go for EASY meals. No need to be a gourmet chef in the first few months. I stocked up on frozen Steamfresh veggies and rice to throw in the microwave as sides for a quick dinner. Coupled with grilled meat (thanks to my husband) dinner was ready in under 15 minutes. I also tried to make double recipes anytime I actually did cook to have lots of leftovers and even froze some meals.
- Notice how refined sugar affects your mood, and hunger? New moms know cookies are quick and tasty. However, just notice if this helps your body or later causes body feelings and signals to become more difficult to address. If you need your pure sugar fix consider eating it near a meal or with a more substantial food at snack. This will help to moderate blood sugar and get you full.
- Get enough sleep: This really isn’t realistic because your sleep will be interrupted for months but sleep has a lot to do with our hunger and satiety cues and metabolism (and sanity!). Just know the more you can get the better even if it’s not your usual 8 hours.
- Don’t stress about nutrition: Ironically this is probably the most important tip. Babies can feel our stress and react to it even if they don’t understand everything that’s going on. Don’t stress about losing weight, getting in all the nutrients you need- just try to do your best and that’s “good enough” which is mentally better than trying to be “perfect”.