We are all great at pre-conception and pregnancy planning, we all religiously take our pre-natal supplements because we know they can help prevent birth defects. But did you know you need to replenish nutrients postpartum, not only when breastfeeding? Many of us are too busy being a new mum or stay on our pre-natal vitamins without realising our needs change.
It takes a lot of nutrients to grow a tiny human. During pregnancy, nutrients from your body are used to support the developing placenta and your baby. Pregnancy followed by childbirth results in a loss of essential nutrients for you, which can lead to postpartum depletion. It is important these stores are replenished post birth regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not.
In fact research tells us that low levels of key nutrients can lead to an increased risk of perinatal anxiety and depression. Plus dietary intervention post birth, making sure you get the right nutrients from food based sources, results in better outcomes for future pregnancies. All the more reason to eat the rainbow!
In particular you need more B vitamins such as, B6 and Folate (B9), zinc, Iodine and Selenium to name few! Good news is all of these can be found in whole food sources. Some nutrient needs actually decrease post birth, like Iron, which returns to pre-pregnancy levels. Though many new mums may still need extra Iron due to blood loss during child birth.
Most of us know when breastfeeding we need extra nutrients. These are passed into breastmilk to help our tiny humans grow, while also helping us keep up with demands of feeding. In fact we need up to 50% more of some nutrients to help with the heavy lifting.
So what key nutrients do we need more of postpartum and while breastfeeding?
🌱Vitamin A - a powerful antioxidant it promotes growth, reproduction and vision in your baby. It also helps keep your immune system strong.
Good food sources include Liver, Cod Liver Oil, Oily Fish, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Spinach and Goji Berries.
🌱Vitamin C - for wound healing, energy and healthy immune function.
Good food sources include green leafy vegetables, amla fruit, kiwi fruit, red peppers and strawberries.
🌱Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate and B12 - great for energy, mood and hormone regulation.
Good food sources include green leafy vegetables, organic red meat, brown rice, barley, eggs, sunflower seeds and almonds.
🌱Iron - is an energy powerhouse and also supports immune health. The RDI for Iron decreases postpartum compared to pregnancy but many new mums are low in Iron after giving birth due to blood loss, so it's important to increase your iron intake for the first few months.
Good food sources include red meat, shellfish, green leafy vegetables, legumes, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.
🌱Zinc - for skin and immune health. Low Zinc levels post birth are linked to postpartum depression.
Good food sources include oysters, organic beef, firm tofu, berries, nut and seeds - almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds. Try making your own trail mix for nutrient dense snack.
🌱Magnesium - needed for bone health,energy production, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm it is also great to help with stress and sleep.
Good food sources include cacao, dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts.
🌱Iodine - important for our thyroid hormones.
Seaweed is one of the best food sources so put sushi on the menu.
🌱Selenium - reduces inflammation and enhances immunity.
Good food sources include Brazil nuts, two Brazil nuts will give you your recommended daily intake of selenium. The amount of selenium in your food depends on the quality of the soil it was grown in, so make sure you check your food labels.
🌱Omega 3's - they are essential for your babies brain development and will also to help to boost metabolism, mood and balance hormones.
Good food sources include salmon, mackerel, oysters, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
💚Here at HQ we help you get the nutrients you need postpartum and during breastfeeding with our Post Birth Vitality and Re-Energise whole food supplements, providing 100% natural wholefood sources of nutrients to nourish and fuel your body.
- Sparling TM, Henschke N, Nesbitt RC, Gabrysch S. The role of diet and nutritional supplementation in perinatal depression: a systematic review. Matern Child Nutr. 2017;13(1)
- Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(2):85–94. doi:10.1159/000090495
- Nutrient Reference Value for Australia and New Zealand. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.