Postnatal nutrition

This blog provides a general overview of postnatal nutrition and provides some sensible advice and recommendations in line with current NHS guidelines.

After childbirth a well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential for your own health and wellbeing and for that of your baby. A nutritious, balanced diet will help you replenish the nutrient stores lost during pregnancy, help you with weight management and provide you with energy to enjoy this time with your new child.

Many new mum's feel motivated to implement a healthy lifestyle, as they want the best for their baby. Everyone should be encouraged to follow healthy eating and physical activity guidelines, so the whole family can be involved.

Key healthy eating guidelines for you and your family:
Eat plenty of starchy carbohydrates – especially the wholegrain variety which will provide you with fibre, important if you have problems with constipation, and will keep you fuller for longer. Examples of carbohydrates are wholegrain cereals, bread, rice, pasta.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – you’ve probably heard of 5 A DAY - we should all be eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Most people in the UK eat 3 portions a day. The portions can be from fresh, frozen, dried, canned, or 100% pure fruit juice.

Eat two portions of fish per week – fish is a great source of protein and provides vitamins and minerals and is low in saturated fat. One portion should be an oily fish, eg fresh tuna, salmon or mackerel which will provide important omega 3 fatty acids which are great for long term health.

Eat a healthy breakfast – it is important to start the day with a good breakfast as this will reduce your cravings for snacks which may be high in fat, salt or sugar, and will help with weight management.

Cut down on saturated fat and sugar – everyone requires some fat in their diet, eg to protect the internal organs and to provide energy and fat-soluble vitamins. It is important not to eat too much saturated fat as this can increase cholesterol levels which can lead on to heart disease. Reduce intake of foods which are high in saturated fat, eg biscuits, hard cheese, butter, sausages, and cut visible fat off meat. You can also use healthier methods of cooking, so instead of frying you could try grilling or baking.

Sugar has been getting a great deal of media coverage recently, and it is important that levels are reduced. Foods and drinks high in sugar include cakes, biscuits and soft drinks. If you are consuming large quantities of food high in sugar you may find that you create a calorific excess which could lead you to gain weight quickly and easily, so try to avoid these on a regular basis and have as a treat now and again, as part of a sensible, balanced and calorie appropriate diet.

Eat less salt – we should only be eating 6g of salt per day. Many food products have been reformulated over recent years to reduce the salt content – you may have noticed a change of flavour in some products due to this. Don’t add salt at the table, is an easy way of reducing intake.

Breasting mum's - If you are a breastfeeding mum, then there are some additional dietary requirements, eg vitamins, minerals and fluids which you will require and there is more about this inn our online members nutrition guide details of which can be found HERE

This blog has been designed by Alison McLaughlin, MA, MSc, Public Health Nutritionist and creator of the CARiFit Online Members Postnatal nutrition guide.