- Postpartum individuals who aren’t lactating do not have special nutrition needs, but breastfeeding does increase calorie, protein, and other nutrient goals.
- If you are trying to manage your weight, focus on nourishing your body with whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.
- Rely on meals that you can quickly prepare while baby-wearing or that involve minimal cookware, like slow-cooker meals.
The changes your body undergoes as you transition from pregnancy to postpartum can feel overwhelming, especially with a newborn on board. Cooking, cleaning, and eating suddenly become more difficult.
With some planning, you can prioritize your nutrition and have the energy to care for yourself and your baby during the postpartum period.
Keep reading to learn how to fuel your body while you recover from pregnancy and birth and for a free 5-day postpartum meal plan.
Postpartum Basics: Getting Started
It can be challenging to think about your own nutrition when you are now responsible for meeting all the needs of your infant. A balanced eating plan during the postpartum period can help you feel your best while recovering from pregnancy and birth.
If breastfeeding, you’ll need around 500 extra calories daily. You’ll also need additional protein, fluids, and certain micronutrients, like choline and iodine. View our comprehensive breastfeeding meal plan for more details.
The nutrient recommendations for postpartum individuals who are not lactating are similar to those of healthy, non-pregnant adults.
You may want to continue your prenatal vitamin for the first six weeks postpartum to help replenish your body’s nutrient stores (and continue past six weeks if you are lactating). However, it’s best to talk to your doctor or dietitian for individualized guidance on supplements.
What to Eat During Postpartum
A postpartum eating plan should include a balance of the food groups with a focus on minimally processed foods:
- Whole grains, like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and barley.
- Lean proteins, including beans, lentils, poultry, and seafood.
- Healthy fats, like nuts, peanut butter, avocados, and olive oil.
- Fruits, such as berries, bananas, and melon.
- Vegetables, including dark leafy greens, bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli.
Schedule and sleep disruptions during the postpartum period can make it difficult to prioritize your nutrition. Focus on eating regular meals and snacks to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day.
Postpartum Weight Management
For some postpartum individuals, the weight gained during pregnancy naturally trends down with time, while others may find this is not the case.
Factors like poor sleep, lack of physical activity, postpartum depression, and irregular eating habits after having a baby can make it challenging to lose weight.
While it can be tempting to turn to crash diets, it’s best to focus on nourishing, balanced meals so you can heal your body as you adjust to life with a newborn.
You can use the plate method for weight management, which emphasizes ¼ plate of whole grains, ¼ plate of lean protein, and ½ plate of non-starchy vegetables. Consider ways to stay active while caring for your baby, such as stroller walks or parent-baby yoga classes.
Most of all, it’s important to give yourself grace. You grew and birthed a human, and it’s normal to experience changes in your body throughout this journey.
Meal Plan for Postpartum
Our postpartum meal plan outlines five days of nutritious, easy meals and snacks. While each day includes new ideas so you have plenty of choices, try to rely on leftovers as much as possible during those early weeks with your baby to save time and energy.
Because everybody has different nutritional needs, talk to a registered dietitian for individualized guidance on portion sizes. The following plan is not intended to replace medical advice.
Slow cooker apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal.
Salad with romaine, quinoa, mandarin oranges, rotisserie chicken, and sesame dressing.
Tip: Try the mason jar salad method of layering dressing first, followed by protein, grains, then greens. With this strategy, you can prepare 2-3 days of lunch in advance.
Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup topped with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and avocado slices.
Homemade peanut butter protein bars. Tip: Make a large batch and store in the freezer.
Smoothie with Greek yogurt and fruit.
Chia seed pudding made with coconut milk, chia seeds, raspberries, and cacao nibs.
Tip: Prepare a batch of chia pudding to enjoy throughout the week or as snacks.
Mediterranean pasta salad with whole wheat pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, olives, feta cheese, and garbanzo beans with Greek dressing.
Tip: Leave the dressing off until serving so the leftovers keep longer.
Stuffed pepper casserole with bell peppers, ground turkey, brown rice, zucchini, mushrooms, and cheese.
Greek yogurt blueberry muffins made with whole wheat flour.
Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit.
Carrot cake baked oatmeal made with old-fashioned oats, milk, raisins, shredded carrots, and toasted pecans.
Tip: Baked oatmeal keeps for about four days in the fridge and freezes well in individual portions.
Chicken salad sandwich with celery and grapes on whole wheat bread. Side of sugar snap peas.
Grilled turkey burger on a whole wheat bun with a side of baked sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli.
Greek yogurt with granola.
Banana with peanut butter.
Mango smoothie bowl topped with toasted nuts, granola, and fruit.
“Egg roll in a bowl” made with sautéed tofu, mushrooms, shredded cabbage, and shredded carrots. Serve over brown rice and top with green onions.
Tip: Purchase pre-cut veggies and frozen brown rice to make preparation easier.
One pot pasta with tomatoes, spinach, chicken, and whole wheat pasta.
Cottage cheese with fruit.
Hummus with whole wheat pita.
Whole grain protein pancakes with almond butter and blueberries.
Whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese with a side of cucumber slices and grapes.
Sheet pan lemon garlic chicken with roasted asparagus and potatoes.
Cheese stick with apple slices.
Whole grain English muffin with peanut butter.
Tips for Meal Preparation
Meal preparation can become difficult while caring for a newborn, especially when you’re still recovering from giving birth. Accept help with cooking whenever you can so you can rest and be nourished.
Try holding your baby in a wrap or carrier while you cook, or consider a ready-to-eat meal service to supplement some of your meals.
Many of the meals in this plan work well as leftovers. If you find yourself getting tired of eating the same thing a few days in a row, try freezing leftovers in individual portions to enjoy during a different week.
Focus on meals you can batch-cook in advance and involve minimal preparation and cookware. For example, slow cooker, instant pot, and sheet pan recipes can be helpful.
The postpartum period comes with many big changes, which can make it challenging to nourish your body. If you are breastfeeding, you will have increased nutritional needs, like more protein, calories, and choline.
For individuals who are not lactating, dietary requirements are similar to pre-pregnancy. Focus on minimally processed whole foods, and fill your plate with lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.
Accept as much help as possible regarding meal prep, and try easy meals like sandwiches, wraps, and slow-cooker or pressure-cooker recipes.
Navigating Postpartum Nutrition with a Dietitian
Whether you need guidance on breastfeeding nutrition requirements or have questions about managing your weight postpartum, a registered dietitian can create a realistic plan for you to feel your best.
Try Nourish for insurance-covered, online appointments with a registered dietitian who will offer gentle guidance to help you meet your health goals during this life change.
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