There’s a reason the postpartum period is known as the fourth trimester.
Simply put, this period is just as critical for your maternal health as any other trimester.
And keeping yourself optimally fed and watered with a nourishing postpartum diet is essential for navigating it.
But let’s be real, the weeks after you give birth are a whirlwind. 🌪
Hormonal changes, new schedules, and the physical recovery process create a unique blend of challenges.
Plus, having a newborn is a job and a half.
You’re not alone if finding the time and energy to focus on your diet feels impossible.
The bottom line? Convenience has never been more of a priority.
Let’s talk about how you can realistically make nutritious food a part of your diet so that you feel your best.
Read on to uncover what to eat after giving birth and the easy steps you can take to enjoy every bite.
In this article: 📝
- Why is postpartum nutrition so important?
- How do I start a postpartum diet?
- What is the best diet after pregnancy?
- What are the best foods for postpartum?
- What to avoid eating during postpartum?
- How can I reduce my tummy after delivery?
- 10 postpartum diet ideas
Why is postpartum nutrition so important?
There’s a misconception that a ‘diet’ is always with the goal of losing weight, but that’s not actually the case.
A diet is simply the foods you eat.
And during postpartum, what you eat can make all the difference in helping you with breastfeeding, kick-starting your recovery, and boosting your general well-being.
None of which demand a strict postpartum weight loss plan.
What it does require is nutrient-dense meals packed with complex carbs, healthy fats, protein, and fiber (don’t forget plenty of water).
Your body has been through a lot and it needs that little bit extra TLC to keep you well and (if you’re breastfeeding) your baby’s development on track.
So really, a healthy postpartum diet comes down to choosing the best foods to support you.
And it starts the minute you have your first food after delivery.
Still, keeping up with a nutritious postpartum meal plan is easier said than done.
Don’t worry, we’ve got tips to get you started down below.
And if you’re starting a postpartum meal plan to lose weight, it’s worth speaking with a doctor first to make sure both you and baby get the nutrition you need—it’s fundamental right now, no matter what ‘bounce-back culture’ says.
How do I start a postpartum diet?
First off, it’s important to ease yourself into it.
Switching up your diet quickly can be hard for your body to handle, never mind when you’re already in postpartum recovery.
Slow, simple switches make for more sustainable post-pregnancy meals.
Plus, postpartum nutrition tends to look quite similar to what you’ll find in pregnancy diet plans, so you don’t have to change too much if you’re already eating pregnancy foods.
Still, the biggest hurdle for every new mum is time.
There’s just never enough on your side to tackle that postpartum grocery list, never mind, cook a nutritious homecooked meal from scratch—no matter how much you’re craving it. 😩
Postpartum is all about tapping into support networks to help keep you lifted, and that can include opting for a food subscription service like Gousto.
Starting from just £2.99 per portion, each Gousto recipe box comes packed with fresh, pre-measured ingredients that you can easily whip up into a nourishing postpartum meal.
And, with over 75 recipes to choose from each week, stretching your subscription to a few months won’t leave you wanting, so you can lean on it as much as you need.
The best part is Gousto allows you to plan your meals in advance, with the option to skip a delivery, pause, or even cancel your subscription when the cavalry comes in (and you get a night off).
Seizing support where you can is peak self-care, mama.
What is the best diet after pregnancy?
The short answer is that there’s no such thing as the “best” postpartum diet plan.
There are so many factors that go into what is best for your body, from your birth experience to cultural background to good ol’ preferences.
If you have a health condition such as diabetes or allergies, that will also play a role in how you manage your menu.
Much as whether you’re breastfeeding or not.
So there is no single definition of a “healthy” postpartum diet ‒ healthy looks different to each mama.
What’s the best postpartum diet plan while breastfeeding?
Even if you choose to breastfeed, there’s not just one best postpartum diet plan.
But there are some foods that are beneficial for breast milk supply that you might want to incorporate as part of your postpartum nutrition:
- Lean meat: An excellent source of protein, which is necessary for breastfeeding.
- Eggs: Another source of protein. 🥚
- Nuts: Also packed with protein and low in saturated fats. 🌰
- Legumes: A great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
- Yogurt: Dairy products are a great source of vitamin D and calcium, vital for yours and baby’s health. Go for Greek yogurt for some protein, too.
- Brussels sprouts: Leafy greens, in general, are great as part of your pre- and postpartum diet plan, but feel free to cut them out if they’re causing you or baby too much gas or discomfort.
- Avocados: Fiber and healthy fats make this a must as a postpartum food. 🥑
- Potatoes: A great source of energy, potatoes also have lots of minerals to benefit you and baby. 🥔
- Spinach: Another leafy green to add to your postpartum meal plan.
- Kale: Calcium and phytoestrogens make this a great addition to your postpartum diet.
- Fenugreek: This simple seed is beloved by breastfeeding mums around the world as a way to boost your breast milk supply.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, wholemeal bread, bulgar, and barley, to name a few, are great ways to keep you going while breastfeeding.
- Water: Sure, it’s not technically a food, but staying hydrated while breastfeeding is one of the most important parts of your postpartum diet. 💧
What are the best foods for postpartum?
With that in mind, let’s have a look at foods that may be helpful to you—as well as those that it’s best to stay away from right now.
But the best postpartum foods are the foods that you enjoy that are also nutritionally complex, so you and baby have the nutrients and minerals you need.
- Whole grains for carbohydrates ‒ brown rice, quinoa, oats, and wholemeal bread.
- Sources of protein like nuts, seeds, eggs, poultry, tofu, lean meats, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and most fish (although some fish are worth avoiding ‒ more on that below). 🥜
- Healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, sesame oil, and olive oil.
- Leafy greens like Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, watercress, arugula, and chard. 🥬
- Dairy like yogurt, milk, cheese, and eggs. 🧀
Which fruit is best after delivery?
Some of the best postpartum foods are fruits, so here are our top postpartum fruits to add to your diet:
- Papaya: A nutritionally-packed fruit with galactagogue, which can help increase your breast milk supply.
- Orange: Another excellent breastfeeding fruit, orange is packed with vitamin C. 🍊
- Strawberries: Alongside Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, their high water content can help you stay hydrated.
- Bananas: Ideal for keeping your folic acid levels up, bananas are also packed with potassium which helps maintain electrolyte levels. 🍌
- Blueberries: One 2017 study indicates this powerful little antioxidant may help alleviate the severity of the baby blues. 🫐
- Mango: Another fruit high in antioxidants, this one comes packed with healthy fiber, which can help slow down digestion while balancing your blood sugar. 🥭
- Apricots: Vitamin C and A aside (not forgetting calcium and potassium), dried apricots also contain high amounts of phytoestrogens which can help stimulate milk production.
What to avoid eating during postpartum?
Thankfully, once baby is born, you can be reunited with many foods you had to give up during pregnancy—hello, lunch meat, soft cheese, and sushi! 🍣
However, there are a few that you should still stay away from for now:
Fish high in mercury 🐟
Too much alcohol 🍹
Many new mamas start reintroducing alcohol once their babies are born.
While the odd drink should be okay, it’s best to keep your intake to a minimum.
If you are dealing with postpartum depression, alcohol can make things even tougher.
(If you need support, reach out to your Peanut community).
Too much caffeine ☕️
Drinking too much coffee can leave you feeling dehydrated.
Also, if you are breastfeeding, caffeine can be passed onto your baby.
But don’t worry, a small amount a day is totally fine.
You don’t have to do this without the help of your morning cup.
How can I reduce my tummy after delivery?
Real talk—while you may be itching to get down to your pre-pregnancy weight, the goal here with your postpartum diet plan should be nourishment above all else.
You need to keep your calorie intake to at least 1,800 and 2,200 calories a day—and if you’re breastfeeding, it’s necessary to add 330 to 400 calories to that, according to the CDC.
If you want some help with a postpartum diet plan while breastfeeding, head here.
If you want to lose weight, take your time.
In the weeks after you give birth, the recommendations from the U.S. National Library of Medicine are that you don’t try to lose more than a pound and a half a week.
That means that, ideally, you need three nutritious meals a day, and two healthy snacks to keep you going.
10 postpartum diet ideas
So how can you reach that goal without having to spend too much thinking about food all the time?
Here are our Peanut mamas’ top tips:
1. Don’t put yourself on an official diet
You have a lot going on right now without the word diet looming over your head.
This is added pressure that you just don’t need.
Rather, think about aiming for nutritious food that will help fuel you through this demanding time.
2. Fill half your plate with fruit and veg
They pack a nutritious punch.
Leafy greens and yellow veggies contain a host of vitamins and minerals that keep you running at your best.
Just be warned—postpartum gas.
And broccoli and cauliflower can be culprits.
Fruit is also filled with nutrients and has a lot of the fiber you may need to stave off constipation (another highlight of the postpartum period).
3. Keep your iron intake up
Iron is important both during and after pregnancy.
Some new mamas lose a lot of blood during delivery, and this can affect iron supply.
Red meat, poultry, and beans are all excellent sources.
Speak to your doctor about whether you should take a supplement.
4. Don’t forget your calcium sources
Both you and your baby need it right now.
If you are breastfeeding, the National Academy of Sciences recommends you consume about 1,000 mg of calcium a day.
Good sources are dairy products, leafy greens, almonds, and calcium-fortified foods like cereals and juices.
5. Protein keeps you going
Protein helps to prepare and build your cells, and this is really crucial right now.
Lean meat, dairy products, beans, nuts, and tofu are all good sources.
6. Fiber helps to keep everything regular
Eating fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, and whole grains can all help.
Chia seeds are a good source of fiber too!
If you’re really struggling, chat with your healthcare provider about a gentle laxative.
7. Keep your liquids up
According to the WHO, breast milk is over 80% water. 🤯
Yep, you’re not only satisfying your own thirst but your baby’s thirst too.
8. Talk to your doctor about continuing with your prenatal vitamins
As the CDC tells us, this is a good idea for some mamas.
But it’s not the right course of action for everyone, as you may not need the amount of iron and folic acid that these supplements provide.
It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to figure out the best path for you.
9. It takes a village to feed a mama
If your partner, family, or friends offer to make or buy nutritious meals for you, take them up on the offer.
End of story.
10. Enjoy your food when you can
Try to make space for mealtimes.
This simple act can be a radical display of self-care.
Whatever you choose, your postpartum diet plan will be whatever is best for you.
There’s nothing at all wrong with treating yourself.
Be gentle with yourself, mama.
You’re on quite a journey.