Key nutrients in the post natal period
Postnatal nutrition power!
Adequate nutrition in the postnatal period is vital for the health of both Mum and baby. However, the reality of caring for baby often sees Mum’s nutritional needs sidelined. Nutrients such as iron, calcium, protein, energy and iodine are essential for ensuring survival through long days after sleepless nights, and to preserve longer term physical and mental health. The question is, how can Mum meet her nutritional needs when she barely gets a moment to think about eating or drinking, let alone prepare and consume a whole meal, snack or drink?
Extensive planning and preparation goes into baby’s arrival – from setting up the nursery to fitting the car seat and choosing the buggy. Additionally, this is also the prime time to prepare for the impact that baby will have on the time available for food preparation down the track. Plan ahead by stocking up the freezer with nourishing meals. Choose meals that are relatively easy to prepare in bulk and contain lots of vegetables alongside a decent serve of good quality protein, such as chicken, beef, lamb, legumes or tofu. For example, beef and vegetable casserole, bolognaise, risotto, lasagne and curry can be made in large batches and then easily thawed. The more meat or alternatives and vegetables that are thrown into a meal, the better – this will help to maximise protein, iron and B vitamin intake.
Another way to prepare the pantry before baby’s arrival is to plan for a big supermarket shop before the due date. It can be difficult to plan shopping trips around baby’s arrival, but in the lead up, stock up on freezer and long life pantry items – tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables, cereals, bread, wholegrain crackers, nuts, dried fruit, plain biscuits and muesli bars.
Feeding baby takes a lot of time – which leaves Mum with little time to eat or drink herself. Consider setting up ‘treasure troves’ of food and drink around the house at key feeding stations. For example, fill a lunchbox with dried fruit, crackers, plain sweet biscuits and nuts and leave it next to a favoured feeding spot, such as the armchair or couch. Pair it with a large bottle of water to prepare Mum and baby for a shared dining experience. Include snacks that offer nutritional value but are easy to eat one handed – for example, almonds (high in protein and calcium), dried fruit (high in B vitamins and energy) and wholegrain crackers (high in fibre and B vitamins).
Populate your village
Settling a new person into the world is a big job, and requires help in many ways. Where the possibility of help is available, don’t hesitate to speak up. Fresh fruit and vegetables are key sources of vitamins and minerals, yet they need restocking in the fridge every week or so. If getting to the shops regularly is a challenge, look to recruit helpers who may be able to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to you. When visitors come round to meet your new arrival, consider it an opportunity to have a helping hand make you a cup of tea and some toast with avocado or nut butter for a nourishing snack – which, with an extra pair of hands present, you may actually have a hope of finishing.
Nourishing food doesn’t have to be fancy or difficult and time consuming to prepare. One of the most helpful ways to maximise your diet easily is to have a ‘cheat sheet’ of no fuss, no frills meals. Scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast, toasted ham, cheese and avocado sandwich and baked beans on sourdough are all examples of cheat sheet meals. Open a bag of ready washed salad leaves to toss on the side and your meal is awash with extra vitamins. With a cheat sheet and a freezer stocked with ready meals, improving nutritional intake despite being exhausted and time poor is a little more achievable.
For more information on nutritional requirements post pregnancy, or to book an appointment with Robyn, please contact The Possums Clinic on 07 3177 2000.