Feed your maternal mental health!
Hormone balance is essential for new mothers, and often seems difficult to find. Nobody intends to have postpartum depression, it’s just one of those things that takes over. What you can control though is your nutrition post baby. Yes, a proper diet can help deter those baby blues!
Prior to birth I started researching everything to eat after pregnancy. Of course there was a ton of information on lactation foods to boost milk supply, and healthy eating habits to lose the weight…. but definitely minimal encouragement to eat for optimal hormone balance to ward off something so common as postpartum depression. The foods we eat can directly effect how we feel! You can balance your hormones naturally by the food choices you make daily.
You obviously need a loving and helpful environment for extra support and to relieve stress as a new mom, but self care also matters (and is usually what gets tossed aside since your new focus is the little life). Simply put, you can’t show up for that baby if you aren’t taking care of yourself. The reason nutrition can have an impact is because your body needs certain foods in abundance during and after pregnancy, so a deficiency can directly affect the way you function. It’s encouraged to continue taking a prenatal vitamin so you can ensure you are still getting everything you need outside of what you are actually eating. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding, because your body will use up all of it’s stores. If you are struggling to replenish you risk struggling to cope. I can’t tell you how many times I read in the parenting books ‘don’t forget to eat’! So many women worry about their baby’s feeding schedule and end up running on empty with their own.
It’s crucial that you eat a variety of ALL THREE macronutrients- carbs, protein and fats.
Now is not the time to cut carbs! Get in those good ones though- like whole grains. Oatmeal is an excellent choice (it also doubles for a top lactation food)! It’s important to remember to get your energy from carbs, not sugar. Choose sweet potatoes over any other kind. Chickpeas can be added to salads, roasted to munch on or even mashed like raw cookie dough for a healthy treat!
Protein helps you rebuild. Continue to eat lean meats, eggs and nuts like almonds. Flaxseed is a great way to get in protein and also help with lactation at the same time!
Healthy fats do so much for your body, so don’t leave them out (especially if you are breastfeeding)! Having the proper intake of good fat in your system helps the transfer of vitamins from other foods so you can absorb all the necessary nutrients. Load up on avocados, salmon and coconut.
Opt for dark, leafy green vegetables as often as you can. Keep in mind the more color that’s on your plate, the better it is for you. Eat carrots, beets, pumpkin, and squash for instance when looking for veggies to add, and berries and apricots for some fruits. Don’t forget about some extra flavoring in your foods like garlic– it can help out too!
You by no means are expected to be a kitchen Queen at this time- that’s how we slip in to bad habits out of overwhelm. A tip is to meal prep prior to baby’s arrival. Get some freezer meals stored up so you have a healthy dinner you can cook easily, such as crockpot recipes. Or go for one of my favorite quick meals- sheet pan dinners! I have quite a few on the blog plus you can even opt to receive my free sheet pan meals ebook for 2 full weeks of healthy recipes!
Make some power snacks in bulk like protein balls. I love this no bake raw option! They are easy and store well so you can have an abundance on hand. I personally make them all the time, and have a few recipes on the blog for you! Check out my almond superseed energy balls with protein powder and my date based superfood energy balls that are rolled in various powders (optional addition).
They say don’t drink your calories but if you make superfood smoothies loaded with fruits and veggies (plus maybe even some Greek yogurt for extra protein) then you are doing your body good in one quick gulp rather than skipping a meal. I have plenty of smoothie recipes on the blog for you! Bone broth is also an excellent option for something to sip on.
Eating foods that can naturally promote hormone balance is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a new mom! The ones I have mentioned help regulate estrogen and progesterone, plus lower levels of stress and have even been shown to improve your mood. Everything is connected!
Instead of focusing on dieting to get your body back focus on eating right to improve your health. It’s all about balance. This is not a time for restrictions! Eat simple, but fuel your body!
What you eat before, during and after pregnancy matters! Just like with fertility foods, a nutritious postpartum diet can provide your body with what it needs to be in optimal performance. You can conceive, grow and care for a baby better if you are taking care of your body from the inside out.
Some sources I used to gather information:
Credit to photos used for this post: