Postpartum Diet

postpartum diet

What To Eat After Having A Baby ?

Your little bundle is here. Amazing work. Now it’s all about the best nutrition for you and your baby – a healthy postpartum diet.

A postpartum diet, or postnatal diet, refers simply to what foods and drinks to consume after childbirth, both for restoration purposes and for providing great nutrition for your baby. It’s all about nourishing both you, your body and your baby. Your body needs healing after giving birth – and there’s no better way for your body to heal than through a healthy postnatal diet and rest.

Consuming a nutritious postpartum diet nourishes your healing body, helps you to recover properly, and boosts your energy levels. Pregnancy and childbirth take an immense toll on a woman’s body. Your body continues to change after childbirth due to milk production, loss of blood, possible wounds from Caesarean sections or even a perineal tear, skin adaptation, and recovering connective tissue. As such, the food that you choose to make up your postnatal diet are vital for your health. It is also important if you are breastfeeding (or nursing) as breastfeeding can require more nutrients than when you were pregnant.

Here are some of the benefits of a healthy postpartum diet;

  • It accelerates recovery: A diet rich in nutrients like complex fiber, protein, and healthy fats, plus proper hydration, can speed up your body’s healing process. A healthy postnatal diet plan will possibly help to prevent bone loss, prevent haemorrhoids, and boost your iron stores, among other benefits.
  • It facilitates milk production: What you eat as part of your postpartum diet greatly determines the quality and quantity of the milk you produce.
  • It supports your general wellbeing: A balanced postnatal diet will also support the stamina you need 24/7 in this new role.

Guidelines For a Healthy Postpartum Diet

Generally speaking, if you are not breastfeeding your baby then you can revert back to your pre-pregnancy healthy diet. The following information is for women who are nursing their baby, as nursing requires extra nutritional requirements.

Your postpartum diet should consist of healthy sources of a wide variety of food from each food group.

  • Vegetables and legumes – in breastfeeding women there is an increased need for a few more serves of vegetables and legumes on your daily plate.  This can be quite tricky, one way to aid this is to have your snacks based on this food group, think cut up vegies and hummus dip for example.
  • Fruit – there is no increased need for fruit in a postpartum diet. Fruit provides us with fibre and vitamins and minerals and we still require approximately 2 serves per day.
  • Grains and Cereals are very filling. They are a good source of energy and fibre, which is important for a healthy postnatal pregnancy. It is important once again to choose healthy wholegrain carbohydrates (brown breads, rice and pasta) not refined carbohydrates (white breads, pasta and rice).
  • Meats, poultry and legumes nuts/seeds – To ensure a healthy postnatal diet, you should incorporate around 2 -3 serves of protein-rich foods into your diet each day, breastfeeding or not. Try and make them high iron foods (such as lean red meat or tofu).
  • Good sources of plant-based protein include beans, nuts, legumes, lentils, nut butter, and seeds, soy products and tofu, plant-based protein powders (e.g., pea protein powder). Animal-based protein, such as beef, fish, chicken, or eggs can also enrich a postnatal, as they are loaded with essential amino acids.
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives – Calcium, protein, iodine and vitamin A and D are just some of the nutrients that this food group can provide. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are great dairy options or look for some non-dairy calcium enriched alternatives.

Proper Hydration is Important

Adequate hydration is an important part of postpartum nutrition. Nursing mothers need to consume approximately 2-3 litres of water per day.

When you are breastfeeding, you need to drink more to replace the fluid used in breast milk (~700 ml/day). Achieve this by having a drink, such as water or reduced fat milk (within your dairy serve recommendations) every time your baby feeds. You will also need to drink more fluid at other times during the day. Remember the practice that you had whilst being pregnant to slowly sip throughout the day, this is where you need to work that habit. Quick tip: before you sit down to feed your baby go grab a glass of water.

Also be aware of unhealthy liquids in your diets such as soda/soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, sports drinks, flavoured milks and juices for example. The best choice is always water.

best fruits to eat for pregnancy

Watch Your Calorie Intake

You need enough calories/kilojoules (energy) in your diet postpartum to achieve all you need to achieve in the day and night, but if you are breastfeeding you need approximately 500 calories more than a non-breastfeeding mother.  Everyone’s individual caloric requirement is different – it depends on your age, activity level, body size and the frequency of breastfeeding or not.  Seek out your Doctor or Dietitian to help you out further for an individualised postpartum meal plan.

Your Postnatal Vitamins Are Very Important

Breastfeeding mothers should consider postnatal vitamins. There is an increased need for some nutrients for breastfeeding women so for some people it is possible that diet alone may not be sufficient to ensure adequate nutrition. Breastfeeding mothers may benefit from taking a multivitamin supplement, as would non-breastfeeding mothers, for health and wellbeing.

Of particular note are iodine and choline in lactation. Iodine sources are dairy products, eggs, seafood, iodized table salt. Choline can also be found in dairy foods and also in eggs, meats, some seafood, beans, peas, and lentils. Once again talking to your healthcare professional before commencing any supplement is recommended.

Foods to Reduce After Childbirth

  • Aim to reduce packaged foods as these foods can be often high in salt/sodium, calories/kilojoules and fat or sugar
  • Discretionary foods (you know the ones we mean) – chips, chocolates and cakes.
  • Soda/soft drinks, sports drinks, flavoured milks and high calorie drinks.
  • Try to consume good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and decrease your intake of saturated and trans fats. These add calories and may lead to increased weight and increased blood cholesterol levels. Plant based foods are the winner here.
  • If you are hungry try not to eat snacks that are high in fat or sugar such as candy/lollies, or cookies/biscuits or chocolate. Try and reach for a healthy snack.
  • Foods that contain added salt. Try not to add salt in cooking or at the table

Foods to Avoid After You Have Had a Baby?

Caffeine During Nursing

Caffeine does pass into your breastmilk, so if you are breastfeeding then limit your caffeine drinks to around 2 each day (it does depend on how much caffeine is in your drink so make sure you read the label). There is caffeine in many drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, cocoa and energy drinks. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA recommends no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. Too much caffeine can make your baby fussy or keep baby awake.  

Alcohol During Nursing

Generally speaking if you are nursing your baby it is best to not consume any alcohol. Alcohol can affect your baby, as it passes very quickly into your breast milk.  If you choose to drink, just having one single alcoholic drink once in a while if your baby’s breastfeeding routine is well established and if your baby is at least 3 months old, may be recommended. You then need to wait at least 4 hours before your breastfeed your baby.

Severe allergic reactions are rare in breast fed babies. Food intolerances can occur. If you are concerned about what you are eating is affecting your baby contact your Doctor and be referred to an allergy specialist and a Dietitian.

Is it Safe to Try to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

nutrition for breastfeeding

Sometimes a new mum can be very keen to lose weight after childbirth. Breastfeeding in fact can aid in this – your body uses fat as fuel to make breastmilk. If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding, then the ideal rate, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in USA, is one pound (0.4 kg) per week. This translates to four pounds (1.8 kg) per month. Slow and steady is the goal. Eating in a healthy manner according to the principles above should provide a slow and safe return to a healthy you.

Some Postpartum Dietary Complications

Constipation certainly can be a complication both during pregnancy and after childbirth. The key to aid with constipation is to increase your fluid (water) and slowly increase the fibre content of your diet. Sometimes a fibre supplement can also be advantageous at this time.

Hunger at this time can be quite ferocious for some new mothers. It is not the time to be weighing yourselves but you may consider using a hunger scale if you feel that you are overeating. Ask yourself  “how hungry out of 10 am I feeling right now”?  and act accordingly. If you do decide that you need to eat, choose a low glycaemic index, high fibre, low fat and sugar snack and not a high sugar or fat snack. It is also really helpful to plan your meals and snacks in advance – that way you know when your next meal is and what you are having, and this can stop spontaneous snacking decisions.

Sleep deprivation is real. You are certainly relying on probably the least sleep you have ever had. Once again we know that if we are really tired our brains will choose the quickest and highest fat/sugar option for us. Once again this is where pre planning comes in to help us choose wisely when are brains, and bodies, are struggling.


A healthy postpartum diet is a key to recovering from childbirth and pregnancy. It is important to aim to enjoy the gift of new motherhood. So, before you modify your current diet, why don’t you take the time to show yourself some kindness? Rest when you feel there’s a need, move your body when it seems right to and enjoy lovely healing foods that nourish your body and your soul.

All information found on simple nutritional advice is given as general advice only. Please consult your healthcare provider for individual advice.

Your little bundle is here. Amazing work. Now it’s all about the best nutrition for you and your baby.