Shortly after delivering a baby, it may be tempting to begin a diet to lose off those extra kilos. But resist the urge. You need the nutrition, and so does your little bundle of joy. Moreover, you’ll need all the extra energy you can muster to take care of your newborn. Remember, your child is going to take all his/her nutritional requirement from you.
Dr Aruna Kalra, gynecologist and obstetrics surgeon, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, says, “A woman’s need for calories, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water increases after delivery. Nutrition is not only important for the baby but is also important for the mother’s current and future health status.”
So, what should you eat?
Dr Madhu Goel, senior gynecologist, infertility specialist and associate director, Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, recommends loading up on low-fat dairy products. You can go for milk, cheese, yogurt or even a delicious milk smoothie with fruits. “Dairy products are rich in protein, Vitamin B and D and have plenty of calcium. The best plan is to have three servings of dairy products every day,” she says.
She also advises new mothers to consume legumes. If you are a vegetarian, pulses form an important source of protein. “Make sure to have them both at lunch and dinner. You can add taste to your dals with lemon and coriander and make it just a wee bit spicy,” Dr Goel says.
Dr Kalra advocates for foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein and fibre, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, lean meat, chicken, eggs, beans and whole grain foods. “Oats are an excellent source of iron, calcium, fiber, carbohydrates and proteins. As they are high in fiber, they can also help keep constipation at bay. You can add chopped fruits like bananas and apples to increase its nutritional value,” she shares.
New moms are, understandably, super busy. Citrus fruits then become a handy source of the much-needed Vitamin C. “It is interesting to note that a breastfeeding mother needs more vitamin C than a pregnant woman. So, it makes perfect sense to have citrus fruits at this time. In fact, you can sip on fruit juices at any time of the day,” says Dr Goel. Other fruits you can go for are blueberries, apples, kiwi, mangoes, banana and avocadoes.
Eggs should also ideally be a part of your diet plan. Have it as scrambled egg or hard boiled one or salad at your lunch time. “Egg yolk is a natural source of Vitamin D. It is also a great source of protein,” says Dr Goel.
Include both healthy and delicious food items in your snack menu – your options are nuts, whole grains, roasted sweet potatoes, walnuts, dates, figs, mix seeds and so on. Dr Kalra says, “Almonds are rich in carbohydrates, fiber and vitamin B12, and contain minerals like magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium and zinc. As there are so many nutrients in an almond, it’s an ideal food to have after delivery.”
Power packed green leafy vegetables are recommended for the new moms. They are rich sources of iron, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium as well as fiber and plant antioxidants. “Consider eating lotus stem, fenugreek leaves, apple gourd (tinda), pointed gourd (parwal) or other such green seasonal vegetables,” says Dr Kalra.
Drinking plenty of water and fluids will help prevent dehydration and improve your metabolism, which is also effective in managing weight. “You can include different types of liquids in your daily diet such as milkshakes, lassi, soups, coconut water, and fresh fruit juices. But avoid cold drinks as it can produce gas,” cautions Dr Kalra.
Junk food should obviously not figure in your diet plan. Apart from processed food, Dr Kalra recommends restricting your intake of bread, biscuits and products which feature maida (refined wheat flour). She adds, “Try and bring up your dinner time to late evening instead of night. If you have to stay awake till late, go for a glass of milk or a cup of green tea.” According to Dr Goel, caffeine is not good for your newborn, so coffee too is out of the picture.