Post-pregnancy diet tips

Aug 1, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. ET

You have to make sure to eat a healthy diet after having a baby so that both of you get what you need.

Woman eating a salad

You've just given birth to a bouncing baby and are swept up in the joys and chaotic schedule of new motherhood. But at the same time you're ravenous and looking forward to enjoying all the foods you refrained from eating while pregnant, such as certain cheeses and sushi. On top of that, you're also keen to shed that weight you gained while you were pregnant.

While all of this is understandable, your main focus should be on maintaining a healthy state. Your good health and well-being will ensure you have the energy being a new mom calls for, and if you're breastfeeding, it will ensure that your baby gets the nutrients he or she needs, as the quality of your breast milk depends on what you eat.

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding your post-pregnancy diet.

Eat a balanced, varied diet, similar to the Mediterranean diet

Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and wholesome sources of dairy. Make sure to consume adequate amounts of protein too, as protein can help with managing any postpartum symptoms. If you experienced any kind of trauma that needs to heal (if you delivered by Caesarean section, for example), make sure you get enough vitamin C from your diet (citrus fruit and tomatoes are excellent sources), as this vitamin aids in the healing of wounds.

Keep your energy up through your diet

You're contending with little sleep and need to have enough energy to get through those late-night feedings. Don't start relying on caffeine to give you a buzz. You'll be better off making sure you eat every two to three hours to keep your metabolism humming along. Eating lean proteins such as salmon and lean beef will also help give you the boost you need.

Slim down gradually sometime after the six-week mark

It's generally recommended to wait until six weeks after giving birth before starting to try to lose the weight you gained while pregnant. If you're breastfeeding, however, two months is the suggested wait time. If you start too soon, you risk stretching out your recovery time. Focus on altering your diet to include foods containing less fat and sugar. Switch to low-fat milk, cut out sweets and eat foods cooked in healthier ways, such as broiled rather than fried.

More on pregnancy

10 Embarrassing pregnancy questions answered
10 Post-pregnancy issues solved
Early signs of pregnancy