Eating well after pregnancy

2009-09-11 00:00

THE last time we looked at how to eat healthily during pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is over though, what happens next? This can be a challenging time finding a new routine­ that suits both you and your new baby. Often mum’s eating is last on the list of priorities as caring for the newest family member consumes most of her time.

During this time of change and adaptation, it is most important to ensure that you look after your health and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to repair and recover.

Frequent meals and snacks throughout the day are ideal. Seldom­ is there a long period of free time to linger over a meal — so keeping it simple is essential.

Breakfast can be a bowl of high fibre­ cereal with plenty milk or yogurt­ added.

Toast with peanut butter, fish paste or cottage cheese at mid morning will see you through to lunch.

At lunch time, you may find it useful to reheat leftovers. Try to add fresh vegetables such as cherry tomatoes­, cucumber chunks or carrot­ sticks. Alternatively a sandwich made from dense seed bread with a substantial filling of tuna, chicken or hummus spread is ideal.

During the afternoon, try to fit in a snack of yogurt and fruit or wholewheat crackers with low fat cheese wedges.

At supper time don’t forget to add vegetables to your meal. They seem to be the first item dropped in a busy lifestyle. Some time-saving ideas are bottled beetroot, preprepared lettuce packs and a variety of frozen vegetables.

Make sure that you drink plenty of water, herbal teas or rooibos tea throughout the day. Taking in enough fluids will help with mental alertness and counteracting fatigue. Always try to keep a glass of water with you.

Eating and drinking adequately is even more critical if you are breastfeeding. Your body makes milk from the nutrients and fluid it has available, and needs a good supply of both. Do not use this time to focus on losing all your pregnancy weight by strict dieting.

During breastfeeding your appetite may increase substantially and energy requirements rise above that of pregnancy. Be sure to snack frequently during the day, eating something every three to four hours.

Breastfeeding increases the body’s demand for essential fatty acids. To meet this requirement, aim for at least two to three servings a week of darker fish (sardines, pilchards, snoek and salmon). Also make sure that you eat five to six servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day to provide the extra vitamins and minerals that are needed for milk production.

In order for the body to manufacture adequate volumes of milk, you need to ensure a good fluid intake. It is recommended that you drink at least three litres of fluid daily. This is much easier to achieve if you break it up into smaller amounts frequently. Try to drink water each time you feed your baby.

Remember that during breastfeeding your baby is completely dependant on you for their nutrient intake. Paying attention to your diet is critical to ensure a healthy mother and baby.

• Sharon Hultzer is a consulting dietitian. She can be reached at

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