Post-pregnancy nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Focus on making healthy choices and leave the calorie-counting for another time. Jamie can show you how!
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When your baby is still just a few weeks old, you may not feel up to much physical activity aside from caring for your newborn and maybe some walking. But you can definitely take some steps toward eating a balanced diet.
To help you make the most of your time in this trainer, I’ve outlined some simple strategies you can use to add some predictability to your eating during a crazy time. I’ll talk about the old “eating for two” myth, and outline a nutritional approach to help you feel your best and work your way back to fitness.
NUTRITION FOR NURSING MOMS
Giving birth is hard on the body. It takes time, rest, and plenty of calories to recover. And if you’re breastfeeding, there’s extra demand being placed on your body for milk production. When a mom is breastfeeding, she needs additional calories, protein, and other nutrients to both maintain her body and provide protein in breast milk for her baby. On average, a nursing mother needs about 35% more protein a day than a non-nursing mother.
If a nursing mother doesn’t eat animal products, she may need extra vitamin B12 as well. Other crucial nutrients that new mothers sometimes find themselves deficient in include iron, calcium, and vitamins C and D. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and dairy product should be adequate to ensure that a nursing mom gets all that she needs. But stay in dialogue with your doctor to make sure you’re avoiding any deficiencies.
That may sound like a lot to keep in mind, but post-pregnancy rehabilitation expert Dr. Sheila Dugan says you can stay on top of the game by keeping these principles in mind:
Prioritize protein at every meal
Eat whole foods more often than highly processed ones
Prioritize nutrients and macronutrients more than calories
Surround yourself with what you know are good foods.
Better planning, better food, better health. That sounds a lot more approachable, doesn’t it?
THE MAGIC OF MEAL PREP
I knew that once my baby was born, I wouldn’t have much time for cooking. So my goal while pregnant was to cook in bulk and freeze individual portions so I’d have healthy meals ready and waiting after we brought the baby home. It was a lifesaver!
Of course, meal prep doesn’t sound like much fun if you’ve never done it before. But here’s the key: Don’t let it sneak up on you. Pick one day a week—preferably on the weekend—and assemble your team and your supplies. You can knock out a week’s worth of dinners in a single afternoon.
Heading into the store when you’re exhausted and in a hurry to get home to your baby is a guaranteed way of forgetting what you need and grabbing lots of stuff you don’t want. Instead, have several of your favorite healthy meal recipes printed out and ready to go, so when you go to the store, you’ll be sure to get exactly what you need.
You may take this approach out of necessity at first, but that could change. Once you get into my training plan and start to see your body change, don’t be surprised if you stick with it—because it works!
HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?
When you were pregnant, you probably heard the old saying about “eating for two.” Unfortunately, this isn’t quite true. During pregnancy, your caloric intake only needs to increase by around 300 calories a day—although it can sure feel like more than that when you’re having a craving!
So what about after pregnancy? The general guideline is that you need to take in an additional 200-500 calories more than normal to support milk production. Here’s a calculator to help you determine what that number looks like for you.
If you aren’t breastfeeding, Dr. Dugan advises, you can get back to your regular pre-pregnancy calorie count once you’re done healing from the birth and pregnancy. However, once you start training more intensely, consider raising your calories by about 500 per day, as well as increasing protein intake to around a gram of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
But bear in mind, these numbers are only guidelines. If you feel hungry, eat more—especially while you’re breastfeeding. I did! This isn’t the time to count every calorie. The goal instead should be to make every calorie count. Try to eat the most nutritious foods possible at all opportunities.
NUTRITION IS KEY TO YOUR RESULTS
Nutrition can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially during a time as hectic as post-pregnancy. But with the steps I’ve outlined here and the information on this page, you can start yourself and your child off on the right path toward a fit future.
Before you start the plan, go watch the other videos in the series. After that, you’ll be ready to get to work and start your transformation. Let’s make it happen!