Maintaining proper nutrition after childbirth is as important for every woman as prenatal nutrition. The postpartum period is also the time for nursing mothers to re-evaluate their nutritional needs vis-a-viz their age, dietary practices, multiple birth, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, eating disorders and how active they are. Most importantly, to have a postpartum period that is relatively free of problems, a woman should take what she eats more seriously.
Now, where do you start from?
An additional 500kcal per day is the generally acceptable recommended calorie intake after childbirth, especially during the first 6 months. This puts your total daily calorie intake at between 2300 to 2500kcal. Some other factors to consider are:
Age: Women older than 35 years and mostly 40 years are at higher risk before conception. Therefore, they must pay particular attention to their diet, before, during and after pregnancy. After childbirth, women in this category are advised to reduce their intake of processed foods such as refined sugar, coffee, processed meat (sausages, tinned beef, fish). They are encouraged to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; foods high in calcium and folate; should take vitamin D supplements if necessary.
Dietary Practices: If you are a vegetarian, please take note of all the essential nutrients during postpartum (to be provided) available in non-flesh food source. You must take these in adequate quantities to maintain proper postpartum nutrition.
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Excessive Weight Gain: Women who gained above 12.5 kg to 14 kg more than their pre-pregnancy weight during pregnancy, would require a more monitored food intake postpartum, so that they would not become obese. Exercising and eating a wholesome diet as well as reducing your intake of highly processed foods to the barest minimum helps.
Note that all categories of women need these key nutrients during postpartum period; calcium, protein, iron, carbohydrates, zinc, magnesium, fats, fibre, vitamin B6 and plenty of water. The sources of these nutrients are mentioned briefly below:
Protein, Fats, Calcium: Dairy products such as, milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage or feta cheese, olive oil, lean meat, fish, poultry without the skin, eggs, beans.
Carbohydrates: Bread (wheat), rice (ofada or brown rice), legumes (beans or peas), boiled yam, boiled plantain, boiled Irish or sweet potato.
VitB6: Fish, beef liver, potatoes, starchy vegetables
Magnesium: Beans, brown rice, wheat bread
Zinc: Beef, pumpkin leaves, lentils, turkey, shrimps
Iron: Pumpkin Leaves (ugu), beef, lamb, soybean, lentils, whole grains (wheat bread), fortified cereals, spinach.
Fibre: Whole grains (wheat bread, brown rice), Cereals
Avoid raw fish (sushi), uncooked meat and poultry or those not properly cooked (Suya), avoid public barbeques if possible, unpasteurized milk, raw eggs, oysters, queen scallops, uncooked frozen vegetables, ready-made salads and coleslaws from delis and salad bars, raw parsley, stuffing in chicken or turkey (except the stuffing was cooked separately).
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