It’s time to talk about what to eat right after you have a baby.
You’ve spent the better part of the past year figuring out what to eat so you could have a healthy pregnancy.
But what you eat after giving birth is just as important.
Because the way you eat in the first few weeks after giving birth has a huge impact on your physical and mental health, well into the early years of motherhood. Early motherhood is like running a marathon after you’ve just finished climbing Mount Everest. Having a baby takes a lot out of you, literally.
And the kind of food you eat after birth has the potential to replenish your reserves or deplete you even further.
Traditions like Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have been preaching this for thousands of years. Because when women eat the right foods after birth, they have more energy, an easier time breastfeeding, stronger digestion, better sleep, and less anxiety. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?!
Here’s what to eat right after you have a baby:
1. Warm Foods
You might want to eat all the sushi after avoiding it for so long, but hold off for just a little while longer if you can. Because after birth your body needs as much easy to digest, warming, liquidy and grounding food as you can give it. Especially for the first month after birth, choose warm over cold.
2. Soups and Stews
Soft foods are easier to digest, so soups make the ideal meal postpartum. Root veggie purees, bone broth, and congee/kitchari are all excellent options no matter what time of year it is.
3. Fresh Ingredients
As much as you can, rally your community around you so you have the freshest foods available to you. Fresh foods are more nutrient dense and more nourishing overall, so prioritize them over frozen casseroles as much as possible.
4. Healthy Fats
Olive oil and ghee help your body absorb important fat-soluble vitamins. From an energetic standpoint, healthy fats are also grounding and lubricating, which counteract the dry, depleted, and airy qualities that are present after giving birth.
5. Warming Herbs
Along with foods that are a warmer temperature, warming herbs like cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, and clove are also going to help to promote digestion and nutrient absorption after birth.
6. Blood-Building Foods
Foods to avoid after birth:
1. Astringent, Bitter, and Pungent (spicy) Flavors
Astringent, bitter, and pungent flavors counteract the grounding, warming, and lubricating qualities you need after birth, so your best bet is to avoid these flavors. Astringent foods include things like cranberries, pomegranate, and unripe banana. Bitter foods include dandelion greens, cruciferous veggies, zucchini and eggplant. And the most obvious pungent foods are spicy peppers, but anything with a kick counts. Instead, opt for more naturally sweet foods like whole grains and root veggies, plus sour and salty flavors in moderation.
2. Raw and Cold Foods
We already talked about this above, but it’s important enough to repeat. Avoid raw and cold foods as much as you possibly can for at least the first 4-6 weeks after birth (especially in the winter). Your body needs as much warmth and nourishment as it can get right now, and raw and cold foods are going to make your recovery take longer.
3. Carbonated and Stimulating Beverages
Right now you need to eat and drink foods that help you feel grounded and at home in your body. Carbonated and stimulating beverages might be yummy, but they add more agitation into your system than you need, so it’s best to avoid them for a little bit longer.
It’s important to remember that the food you eat doesn’t just go through you. Food literally becomes a part of your physical body, which has a direct impact on your mental health. You need as much strength and support as you can get in the marathon that is motherhood, and there’s no better way to start than with the right food.
About Katerina Baratta
She runs a membership site called the Feed Your Soul Society where women transform stress and anxiety into confidence in themselves, their body, and their choices.
Katerina also works with patients 1-on-1 through private coaching, teaches yoga at MamaSpace Yoga and holistic nutrition at the National University of Natural Medicine.
When she’s not working, you can find Katerina wrangling her 3 boys, Walden, Téo, and her husband Adam, preferably while exploring the woods and eating fancy foods.