Have you heard of the 4th trimester?
Otherwise known as postpartum, it is the 6-week period starting straight after the birth of your baby.
During both your pregnancy and delivery (vaginal or C-section), you may have noticed a lot of physical and emotional changes occurring.
When considering how to best nourish and support your body during this time, it’s worth thinking about some of the physical and emotional effects of pregnancy and birth, including:
- significant repair and recovery of body tissues
- breast tissue changes
- physical demands of breast-feeding
- disruption to sleep rhythm and regularity
- hormonal changes
- adjusting to caring for a newborn baby and possibly a new family dynamic
How long is the fourth semester and how best can you support your body?
The consequences of these changes are present during the fourth trimester (up to a 6-week period) and to a certain extent, for many months (and even years) beyond this phase.
With the physical and emotional changes that have occurred and are occurring, the postpartum period requires special attention to the nutritional support needed to nourish the health of both you and your baby through:
- the replenishment of nutrient stores
- providing the building blocks for the body to recover and repair (for your body and health, and also for future pregnancies)
- providing a good supply of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to make enough breast milk and provide nutrients that your baby needs, without depleting you.
- helping your body cope with the physical and emotional demands of sleep deprivation and general adjustment to this life phase.
Which foods are best for postpartum nourishment?
To nutritionally nourish and support your body during the postpartum period, the best foods to include (based on individual preference and tolerance) are:
- soups, stews, and curries with broth help provide collagen-building amino acids and nutrients.
- protein from meat and/or vegetarian sources to provide building blocks for tissue healing
- beneficial fats from seafood, eggs, grass-fed beef, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, and cold-pressed oils help baby’s brain development.
- iodine-rich foods to support nutrient repletion (kombu, seaweed in bone broth, and stews).
- soft-cooked vegetables for a broad range of vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates.
- grains and starches to help with daily energy levels and for maintenance of milk supply if breastfeeding (oats, sweet potato, whole grains).
- smoothies with a balance of protein (good quality protein powder), fats (avocado or nuts), fruits (as per preference), vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, or zucchini), and fermented food (kefir, yogurt).
- plenty of fluids – filtered water, broths, teas.
Any last tips?
Remember, the postpartum period is not about eating perfectly every day.
Start where you are and gradually add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet (like the ones mentioned above) as often as you can.
It’s more about overall diet quality than daily variations (for those days when the wheels fall off – which they will!).
If you’re needing further support during this phase, please reach out on my contact page or book an appointment here.