Postpartum Nutrition for New Moms
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LINDSAY STENOVEC: Life after baby can be hard. With everything you're managing, eating healthy and consistently can quickly become a low priority. You may know that nutrition postpartum is important but you may not be sure what foods are best or how much you need. The good news is healthy eating postpartum doesn't have to be complicated. I'm Lindsay Stenovec, registered dietitian nutritionist, owner of Nutrition instincts and founder of the Nurtured Mama Program. This is Newbies.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome to Newbies broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. Newbies is your online, on the go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm your host, Kristen Stratton. I'm also a certified birth doula, postpartum doula, VBAC coach and owner of In Due Season Doula Services. If you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com. You can also subscribe to our show through iTunes so you'll automatically get new episodes when they're released. Sunny is here to tell us about other ways you can participate in our new show.
SUNNY GAULT: Hi everybody. Yes. There's lots of ways you can get involved with Newbies. As Kristen was mentioning to you, we are in iTunes and we would love for you guys to rate us and review us in iTunes. That really helps us. It's a new show. We're trying to get the message out to more and more moms out there that we exist. The more you rate us and you review us, the easier people can find us on iTunes. That's one way you can really help us out and start to get involved with the show.
Couple other ways, we have a segment that we call “Ask the Experts”. We know you mamas out there have lots of questions when your babies are first born and we invite you to submit your questions to us. We'll pair them up with one of the many experts within our shows and we'll get your questions answered. Then we'll actually have your questions as well as the expert's answer and we'll put it together in an upcoming episode so other mamas can hear and benefit from the answer.
We also just want to hear your ideas when it comes to episode topics and other things that you would like for us to talk about on Newbies. The best way to submit for those different segments you can go to our website at www.newmommymedia.com, go to the contact link section and send us an email. Or if you want to say your comment yourself or actually tell your story yourself, there’s a good way to do that. You could do that through our voicemail. The number for that is 619-866-4775.
Go ahead and call the number. No one's going to pick it up. It will go straight to voicemail. In that way you can leave your message and we'll actually play your exact message on the show. Those are a few ways you can get involved.
KRISTEN STRATTON: We have a very special panelist joining us today on the phone from Texas. Natalie, could you please introduce yourself? Could you tell us a little bit about what you do? How many children you have and their ages?
NATALIE TAYLOR: Okay. I am a stay at home mom in Texas. My name is Natalie Taylor. I just recently gave birth to quadruplets. They are officially six days old. So I have seven babies already at home. I have four year old fraternal twins, boy and girl, three year old identical twin girls, a one year old identical twin boys and I have a ten month old baby girl.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Oh my goodness. You are amazing. So the quads are in the NICU right now Nat?
NATALIE TAYLOR: The quads are in the NICU right now.
SUNNY GAULT: And you are at home? Where are you in this whole—
NATALIE TAYLOR: I am spending my last day in the hospital and then they're going to keep the quads for an extended period of stay just so they can get a full deal of health before coming home.
SUNNY GAULT: So really if there's anyone that knows anything about postpartum nutrition and how to properly care for your body in order to produce all the children you've produced, it's probably Natalie. We're very lucky to have you on the show Natalie.
NATALIE TAYLOR: Thank you very much.
SUNNY GAULT: So before we kick off our show today, this is definitely a related headline to postpartum nutrition that we're talking about. It kind of ignited the idea actually for this episode. The headline is this: Campaign shames breastfeeding mom who eats doughnuts and burgers. This is not the only article that's been out there. There have been tons of different articles but here is the gist.
There has been a campaign that was released and it totally ignited this whole fire storm especially on Facebook, any site where people could really comment on, blog posting of that sort. But it's in an advertising campaign. You have to see the visual to completely get it. We'll totally post it on our Facebook page so you can get an idea of what this campaign is about.
But what I’m looking at now in the photo is a picture of a mother holding her baby at the breast as if she's breastfeeding. Painted on the mother's breast is an image of a big, juicy cheeseburger. It's covering the breast and you can kind of see the baby, looks like obviously the baby's latched and actually nursing. But it looks like the baby is eating a big old hamburger too right? And along with that there’s a little message that says “your child is what you eat”.
So there have been a lot of people that have a big problem with that including yours truly and I’m sure a lot of the mamas here in the studio and on the phone. But you know it's kind of misinformation. There's a lot of people talking about being like “what are you doing?” As far as who puts this out, all fingers are kind of being pointed at “The Pediatric Society of Rio Grande” and I just have no idea of who that is. It feels like someone's hiding behind something honestly.
But we do know that in Brazil that they are as a whole—it says in this article: Brazil is battling a huge obesity problem so they're trying to kind of combat that. I'm not sure they did it the right way. But anyways, let's open it up to everyone here in the studio. What do you think of this Lindsay? From a dietitian and nutrition perspective?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Oh my gosh. So many thoughts. Actually, what you have just said, I didn’t realize that could also have been also partially a reason they went this route. That's a major problem that we feel that it's appropriate to use shame tactics to try and instill self-care and healthy eating because time and time again, research show then also I think we could attest to this in everyday life, that if we don’t feel great about what we're doing, if we feel guilty or we feel shameful we don’t really tend to take care of ourselves better. So that I have a huge problem with.
But just so you know that it' s not true to talk a little bit about that today, the guilt and shame, like the self-care looks different for everyone. You can have a burger—you can be very healthy and have a burger. There’s nothing wrong with having a burger.
SUNNY GAULT: It's not like your baby is eating the burger because you ate a burger either.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Right. That's completely bogus.
SUNNY GAULT: Kristen, what do you think?
KRISTEN STRATTON: I just think they went about this all wrong. I mean because the power of that image could go either way. In the way they did it was like you said, very shameful. I feel like if they had maybe changed the slogan a little bit and maybe painted a picture of something healthy like some bananas, some apples, some oranges—that's a brown thing because it's a breast. Something that instead of reaching for maybe that third burger of the week, the mama will go, “Well maybe I should try something healthier”. So just a kind of plant to see the positive object instead of saying “If you drink a milkshake, that's what exactly is coming out of your breast which is, we all know, not the case at all.
Our bodies are actually very good at taking care of our babies. We go through pregnancy, we go through morning sickness, we go through illness during pregnancy and at most part, babies are born healthy. You know there are few exceptions. But I think the same holds true for breast milk too. So should we make healthy choices? Should we live a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely! Everything in moderation but we shouldn’t shame people for some indulgence and you know—something – you know there’s a little joy in having a hamburger once in a while. So let’s not tear people down for those choices.
We’re already a culture where breastfeeding is not the norm. It’s not openly encouraged. In many cases, women are shamed for even pursuing it. It’s just further reinforcing that. I can’t speak to the culture that this ad originated in. But I know as an American woman in a society where I’m constantly being told that, I’m not getting an F for not feeding the baby from the breast. This is just further reinforcing that and I just think there’s way more positive ways to encourage women to take care of themselves rather than painting a hamburger on their breast and telling them it’s wrong for their baby.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Right.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Today on Newbies, we’re discussing postpartum nutrition for the new mom. Our expert, Lindsay Stenovec is a certified eating disorder registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Instincts. Thank you so much for joining us Lindsay and welcome to the show.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Lindsay when we are pregnant we think about eating for two. But when our baby is born, we seem to forget how important nutrition is for the postpartum mom. Why is that?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yes. Speaking as both a professional and a mom, I’m not sure that we so much forget. It’s just that it becomes less of a priority, especially in the early weeks and months because everything is just putting out fire after fire especially if it’s your first child where you’re learning so much. Or if it’s not your first child and you have other children that you’re also caring for, there’s just so much going on so I think it’s easy for it to get squeezed out completely, unintentionally.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I’m having that image of putting out fires because that’s totally hard.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yes. It’s like, oh I’m so hungry but you know he needs to breastfeed. And then he pooped so I need to change the diaper obviously. You can’t just say “In 30 minutes I’ll change your diaper” so it’s just go, go, go all the time.
KRISTEN STRATTON: How does good nutrition affect the postpartum mom’s body after birth?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: In so many ways. Because women are having babies all the time, we tend to forget how big of a physical event this can be for women. And there’s so much healing that is going on so nutrition plays a direct role in that process on a cellular level. So making sure that mom has enough protein, vitamin A, vitamin C. Zinc plays a role in wound healing or any sort of tissue healing. Iron is huge too to make sure the body is getting enough oxygen and nutrients throughout her body. That healing in general just to be keeping up with day to day demand. Breastfeeding we have to make sure we’re getting enough nutrition or getting enough calories for our bodies to manage the production of milk and again all the everyday things—digestion, so many.
KRISTEN STRATTON: How many calories does breast milk actually do they consume?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Good question. If you’ll look this up in a textbook, you’re going to see a real—like general 300, 500 extra calories. It’s typically more than in pregnancy. Well, it is because actually we probably do need more than that. How do we really take that information? We don’t know all the time how much we needed before pregnancy, during pregnancy, after pregnancy.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I certainly was will not start counting calories.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: I don’t recommend it. I highly recommend not counting calories. Natalie, what do you think?
NATALIE TAYLOR: I was told to pretty much to think like we’re eating for five. I started my hospital stay at the beginning of the second trimester. They were literally bringing me ten small meals a day. You know how you’re supposed to have like your three main meals a day and two mini meals in between those? That’s your healthy, standard nutritional diet. For me, I was obviously packing four so I was eating for five. It was meal after meal after meal after meal every two hours.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: I’d definitely believe that that would be how you’d have to set things up in your case especially to make sure you’re getting enough nutrition. I always talk with moms about listening to their bodies first. Obviously, you’re in a unique circumstance so there are times you’re not really hungry but you need to really need that additional nutrition and you had to do that anyways.
But really letting their bodies be their guide and not being afraid to respond to that because I think another reason why we kind of lose our sense of postpartum nutrition is because there’s a lot of this pressure to lose the baby weight for a lot of women. So they have this feeling of restraint sometimes. Like, “I’m so hungry but I really want to lose this baby weight” and that becomes kind of the focus for some women. And it can be a really difficult process to get enough food so really listening to the body and responding.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I think that is one of the biggest struggles with new moms is you don’t have time and then you do. You do for that pressure to down stack. And then we see in the media all the time where someone’s got six pack abs and they’re walking down the runway. They’re only four weeks postpartum. That’s just really not realistic. Those people get a lot of help. They have designers and they have dressers, and they have plastic surgeons. Most people don’t have that. We don’t have access to meal deliveries. Maybe some people do, or personal chefs. These are not things that the average middle class woman has. So I think a lot of times, it’s just preparation. But for the most part, it’s a struggle and you don’t make yourself a priority. Now if a mom is having a difficult time in getting enough nutritious food into her daily diet, do you recommend supplementing anything?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yes I do. So continuing to take that prenatal is important. Just is that kind of insurance. Make sure you have enough iron. Definitely, an omega-3 that is one area where your diet can impact your breast milk. Fat content wise in your breast milk it’s going to be pretty consistent regardless of your diet as long as you’re getting enough calories in general.
But fat composition can change and when you’re pregnant and also breastfeeding. Meaning after pregnancies then you are breastfeeding, your body’s really going to deplete omega-3 stores. We store those a lot in our hips and go straight to your baby and straight to breast milk also. So it’s very common postpartum to be extremely low with omega-3 in our diets for not eating fish consistently. Taking the omega-3 about 300, 400 mg of DHA to start and some would recommend higher than that if you’re low.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I heard that you can have different sources. So there’s the fish oil. But then I also heard something about shrimp. Does that something-?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Shrimp does have some omega-3 in there.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I’ve heard that one is better than the other. Kind of like the new fad in the media a couple of years ago so I’m just curious, what actually is higher in the omega-3 content?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Your fish sources of omega-3s are going to be basically more readily available or used at a much higher rate in the body, so getting it from salmon or shrimp. But if you get it from flax seed, chia seed, that’s great. You body’s using a very low percentage of that. You want to include those things in your diet. Also for the fiber which is really important for the postpartum mom, especially that insoluble fiber likes whole flax seed. But great to get omega-3s that way, you’re still getting it as usable. Basically, you want to get DHA.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Good to know. When we come back, we’ll talk with Lindsay about her favorite recommendations for breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks. We’ll be right back.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome back to the show. We’re talking with Lindsay Stenovec about postpartum nutrition for the new mom. Lindsay, let’s talk about your favorite recommendations for healthy foods that help a postpartum mom’s body function at its best.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Alright. First of all this does not have to be complicated. Again, we’re talking calorie counting, nothing like that. Nothing counting how much omega-3s you’re getting or vitamin A. just making sure that you are getting your major food groups. So you’re getting your protein sources—meat, poultry. If you’re a vegetarian, tofu, definitely including things like lentils, beans, grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, calcium sources. Now, I don’t know about you guys but postpartum, eating with one hand was a must and not needing a fork is a must. So eating like a salad sounds great but a) it may not get me enough calories depending on how I put together and b) it’s going to be all over my baby and all over me.
So again, simple. You could do a crock pot of eggs, maybe some ham, maybe some cheese, throw it all in several tortillas. Roll them up, freeze them, put them in the freezer. You can have breakfast burritos for days and eat them with one hand. Breakfast sandwiches you can make the same way. Eggs are a great source of nutrition. Great source of both fat and protein and something called choline which is great for your brain function, which is we all know we definitely need that too postpartum.
SUNNY GAULT: Stock up on eggs.
KRISTEN STRATTON: The mommy brain is a real struggle. It’s real. I don’t think it ever comes back. If it does, I’m so waiting. Those are great breakfast ideas. What about lunch?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Again, you don’t need a registered dietitian to tell you this. Sandwiches, wraps, things you can hold with one hand, throw together easily. Preferably someone else is doing these things together for you. Either they’re in the tortilla or they’re doing it the night before. You can just walk to the fridge, grab it and you’re done. Especially in the early days obviously, when we’re further along we may have more abilities in that area. But yes, just real simple. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A PB&J with some yogurt and fruit and maybe some carrots, you know that’s fine.
KRISTEN STRATTON: This is making me hungry.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: I know right?
SUNNY GAULT: Carrots is in front of us now.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I’m very happy to hear that this can be a simple process because complicated just doesn’t work with us the first few days or weeks or months.
NATALIE TAYLOR: Or five days.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Or years! How about dinner?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Dinner, same idea. I actually have some tips, later on, we could go over. But crock pot meals are wonderful for dinner, just as long as the smell isn’t bothering you anymore—having that food smell around the house. Doing crock pot meals is great and always having back-ups. Again at dinner traditionally just because we sit down and we have this entrée, something warm typically it doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as it’s enough, that’s the priority.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Hopefully some freezer meals that maybe you can prep when you’re nesting or waiting for your baby to come.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Absolutely. That’s wonderful. Yes. Pre-baby prepping as much as you can. There are so many resources for that online. I’m going to be adding some to my blog. So that’s huge.
KRISTEN STRATTON: What about you Natalie? What’s been helpful for you? Obviously you have your hands full in a very wonderful way. But what’s a great way to get food to your mouth when you’re not in a hospital setting?
NATALIE TAYLOR: My thing was three babies in my case. My thing was casserole. A lot and lot of different casserole recipes both in just breakfast, lunch, dinner and if you wanted to make some dessert, there some dessert casseroles. Obviously does not mean a single child on having multiple baby sisters, a crock pot was used. That was a very, very viable source for me to get proper nutrition in any way, shape or form that I needed as well as fluids too. I mean if having as many kids as I do, I’ve over abundance in gee sparkling—
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Out of necessity.
SUNNY GAULT: Your family looks like cosco.
NATALIE TAYLOR: Yes I’ll go with cosco.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Lindsay, if someone maybe can’t, for example, have a lot of beans in their diet or dairy in their diet—things like that that maybe are having some sort of allergic reaction in mom or baby. What kind of things can they do to supplement those particular food groups and have a healthy diet?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Absolutely! If you have to get rid of dairy in your diet and you basically want to think about what does dairy do for me nutritionally and how do I get that in other ways? You want to think calcium, protein, actually, there’s also a great source of carbohydrate and fat. So it’s got all the big three the macaroni three is in there. Things like tofu, soy alternates.
A lot of people might turn to omen milk to sub for dairy and that’s actually not a great sub for dairy. Could certainly be used in place of milk or cereal or what not, but if you’re looking for the nutritional value that you would get in something like liquid milk or yoghurt, you want to go for a soy based yoghurt or liquid, tofu, edamame, beans would be okay for someone who’s eliminating dairy
NATALIE TAYLOR: Like Greek yogurt?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Greek yogurt would be great. Yes. That’s usually—they’re higher in protein in some cases.
KRISTEN STRATTON: And what about when we have cravings for that fast food and those delicious treats and the dessert casserole that I wanted to know more about Natalie.
NATALIE TAYLOR: The In and Out Burger?
KRISTEN STRATTON: Yes. So we talked about that at a little bit. A lot of moms find that shaming negative but I think sometimes indulging is important. So how do we find that healthy balance?
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yes, absolutely. Cravings, in general, are completely normal first of all. Let’s say you’re a new mom and you do find yourself going to the drive-thru. Sometimes we need food fast right? And self-care is going to look different for everyone. This could look different every day. So there are going to be times that make perfect sense. I can distinctly remember coming home from the pediatrician’s office with my son, crying and knowing he will need to breastfeed for about 45 minutes at least when we got home because that’s just how things were going. If I don’t swing but through you know the drive-thru, I’m not going to eat lunch so that’s what I have to do.
Now if we’re finding that this is happening on a really regular basis where we’re always having to kind of go out for meals, we want to just want to look at: what’s going on in my life where I need food fast all the time? Do I need more support? Do I need to start asking for more help so that I’m not relying on that all the time? I mentioned earlier this week to some people in general if I have to put together and ad for postpartum nutrition, it would be a mom comfortably sitting on a couch with pillows with people representing support. You know, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, family member and partner with a huge, nice, lovely meal that they prepared for mom. We can’t always expect mom to be doing all those things. You can’t do everything at once.
KRISTEN STRATTON: And hopefully someone’s fanning her, someone’s rubbing her feet, someone’s painting her nails, massage—that just sounds heavenly. You should totally promote that ad.
SUNNY GAULT: It’s better than the ad we talked about earlier.
LINDSAY STENOVEC: Absolutely. Much better replacement!
KRISTEN STRATTON: Thank you so much, Lindsay and Natalie, for chatting with us today about postpartum nutrition for the new mom. And for our Newbies club members, our conversation will continue until the end of the show as Lindsay will share her favorite resources for healthy crock pot meals. For more information about the Newbies Club, please visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, we have a question from one of our listeners and this comes from Alyssa. Alyssa writes on our Facebook page:
I just had my daughter four days ago and I’m already feeling depressed. It’s not the baby blues. It’s way worse. I had this happen with my last pregnancy and I didn’t do anything about it. Mainly because I didn’t want to take something to feel more normal. It feels way worse this time and I’m better about talking about it with my husband. But is this something I should bring up with my OB at my six-week appointment?
YVONNE ROTHERMEL: Hi this is Yvonne Rothermel, licensed clinical social worker. Hi Alyssa, I’m so glad you wrote in, taking support this time around. I’m also glad you are talking about how you’re feeling with your husband. It’s so important to have others know how we’re really doing. It is important for you to know that you do not have to suffer through this time around.
There are very effective treatments for postpartum depression. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, medications may be recommended but medications are not the only treatments for postpartum depression.
It’s also important for you to know that you are not alone. Many women experience postpartum depression. This is not your fault. It’s not some weakness in you that you get this and others do not. If you’re having depressive symptoms, I would not wait for your six-week appointment with your OB-GYN. I would call your doctor right away to let him or her know you’re feeling depressed. It’s important not to wait to seek help because we know that the sooner women seek treatment and support, the better outcomes for both mom and baby. I would also contact Postpartum Support International to find with girls that there are some psychiatrists in your area who specialize in postpartum depression. It’s important that you get a full assessment from a mental health professional specializing in this area. That way you ensure a proper treatment plan. You can find them on the web at www.postpartum.net. I would also recommend the blog Postpartum Progress at www.postpartumprogress.com. It is one of the most widely read, best blogs on postpartum mental disorders. It works to empower women in their recovery. You would ask for recommendations to feel better.
Beyond this assessment which we talked about, I would work to reduce your expectations of yourself right now. Your health is more important than a clean house, or dirty laundry. Optimize your time with supportive others. Allow others to do for you. Ask for help from your partner so you take breaks and get sleep. So many women have such a difficult time asking for help that’s just necessary. Try to get out of the house and take walks when you can. Find a support group through postpartum support international to reduce your risk of isolation. Most of all, be gentle with yourself and know that women do recover from postpartum depression and feel better. I’m glad you wrote in.
KRISTEN STRATTON: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Newbies. Don’t forget to check our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with infants and toddlers
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
Thanks for listening to Newbies. Your go-to source for new moms and new babies.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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