Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Postpartum Body
Weight loss is often a concern for women who just gave birth. But before jumping into this subject, let’s acknowledge that giving birth is quite the achievement, so give yourself some credit and go easy on yourself, you have literally just brought another human into this world. Wow!
How long will it take for my body to go back to its natural size?
When giving birth, there is a certain amount of weight associated to the baby, the amniotic fluid and the placenta. Combined, they account for approximately 5-6 kg (12-13 lbs.), , , which will naturally be lost during birth. Also keep in mind that it may take about 6 weeks for your body to slowly get back to normal, which includes the uterus shrinking1, 7, blood volume reducing to regular values and for the overall swelling to go down. As for the rest of the weight that was gained during pregnancy, slow and steady is your best course of action to return to your prenatal weight5. Aiming at 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs.) weight loss per month would be a reasonable goal. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself, it took 9 months to gain this weight, it makes sense that it takes some time to lose it.
Should I start a diet?
A restrictive diet might not be the best idea after giving birth. As you probably know, your energy is a precious thing during the first weeks and months and restricting your calorie intake may reduce your energy levels.
Instead, listen to your body, your signs of hunger and satiety. That being said, it is also understandable that sometimes, because you are busy and tired, you don’t notice those hunger cues. Remember, food is your main source of energy, so try not to skip meals.
Why not keep some easy go-to for when you are too tired to cook? For example, when cooking, try to double the amount so that you can freeze the leftovers for harder days. You could also keep handy snacks available at all times, for example, cut up veggies so to always have some ready on hand; add a little hummus for added protein. Yogurt is another easy one to keep in the fridge; pop some nuts, seeds and berries in there and you have an easy, tasty breakfast or snack.
Would you like more guidance? Dietitians are the experts on food and nutrition and can certainly work with you to ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need.
Helpful tips and tricks!
Variety is key!
Make sure to eat a wide variety of foods from the three major food groups; fruits and vegetables, protein foods and whole grains. Each food group provides important nutrients that can be essential for your body and its function.
- Try to include whole grain foods as often as possible, like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, whole grain pasta, popcorn, etc. 
- Aim for half of your plate to contain fruits and/or vegetables 
- Consider eating at home more often than going out. 
- Consider foods that are less processed and contain less salt, added sugars and/or trans fats. , 
- Take your time to eat, to enjoy your food and to be mindful of your hunger and fullness signals. 
- Choose water more often than sweetened drinks like juice or pop 
What are your tips and tricks that make your life easier in the kitchen on a busy day?
- Childbirth recovery and postpartum care. (n.d.). About Kids Health. Retrieved July 2, 2020, from https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca:443/fr/article?contentid=415&language=English
- Labor and delivery, postpartum care. (n.d.). (2020, March 11). MayoClinic. Retreived July 2, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/postpartum-care/art-20047233
- Leahy, K., Berlin, K. S., Banks, G. G., & Bachman, J. (2017). The Relationship Between Intuitive Eating and Postpartum Weight Loss. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 21(8), 1591–1597. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-017-2281-4
- Murray-Davis, B., Grenier, L., Atkinson, S. A., Mottola, M. F., Wahoush, O., Thabane, L., Xie, F., Vickers-Manzin, J., Moore, C., & Hutton, E. K. (2019). Experiences regarding nutrition and exercise among women during early postpartum: A qualitative grounded theory study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 19(1), 368. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-019-2508-z
- Recovering from birth. (2016, December 14). Womenshealth.Gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-and-beyond/recovering-birth
- Recovering From Delivery (for Parents). (n.d.). KidsHealth. Retrieved July 2, 2020, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/recovering-delivery.html
- The body after birth | From Tiny Tot to Toddler. (n.d.). INSPQ. Retrieved July 2, 2020, from https://www.inspq.qc.ca/en/tiny-tot/delivery/first-few-days/body-after-birth
- Welcome to Canada’s food guide. (2018, October 4). Canada’s Food Guide. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/, https://food-guide.canada.ca/