by Jackie Hershwitz
If you're pregnant, you could be daydreaming about holding your precious baby for the first time or hopefully fitting back into your favorite jeans (back when you actually could see you had toes).
Another topic that you'll want to consider is your body's post pregnancy needs.
While we know you'll be eager to shed those last few pregnancy pounds, consider taking them off slowly. There's nothing wrong at all with getting back to a healthy weight. You want to make sure that you give your body enough time to adjust and compensate.
Being pregnant came with specific nutritional requirements. Giving birth and recovering from your birth, no matter how your baby was born, requires energy and specific nutrients.
In these first weeks, your goal is to help your body recover and to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
During the first two to four weeks after your baby's birth (or the first eight to 10 weeks if your baby arrived by c-section), your body works hard at repairing and rebuilding itself.
Your diet needs to provide the basic building blocks and plenty of energy to get the work done.
Protein foods: Protein has the amino acids your body needs to repair cells and muscles that could have been damaged during childbirth. While you don't need to focus on eating huge steaks or five egg omelets, focus on getting protein from such sources as meats, seafood, legumes (dried beans and peas), eggs, dairy, soy or nuts for each meal.
Carbohydrates furnish energy. The best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain products.
Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds provide important nutrients and help provide energy.
Your body craves certain nutrients during the first few weeks after childbirth. Try to make sure your postpartum diets contains plenty of these essentials.
Iron: You lose some blood during delivery whether your birth was vaginal or cesarean. Include foods rich in iron and those containing vitamin C as you plan your meals.
Vitamin C promotes healing. Eat strawberries, kiwis and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables to get the Vitamin C you need.
Fiber: Many new moms complain about constipation. To avoid being part of this vocal group, drink lots of water and eat food rich in fiber.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These essential fatty acids ensure your emotional and physical well-being. Their lack has been connected with postpartum depression. Fatty fish like salmon, nuts and seeds provide Omega-3s.
MyPlate® furnishes a visual that help you plan your healthy diet. Fill half the plate with dark green vegetables, one quarter with a protein and the remaining quarter with a whole grain or starchy vegetable.
An ideal postpartum diet might look something like this:
Breakfast: Two egg omelet filled with mushrooms, spinach and red peppers; a piece of whole grain toast and a glass of milk.
Snack: Strawberries topped with plain Greek yogurt.
Lunch: Turkey, cheese and vegetables wrapped in a whole grain tortilla; leafy green side salad and orange slices.
Snack: Raw vegetable plate with hummus or other healthy dip.
Dinner: Ginger salmon over bok choy served with brown rice; milk and a baked apple for dessert.
Different foods and traditional diets have been used around the world during the postpartum period. These two Eastern cultures illustrate traditional culture wisdom.