This post is part of our New Mom Success Series, where we’re taking an in-depth look at the (1) physical-nutritional and (2) mental-emotional needs of brand-new moms, especially in the sacred first six weeks after birth.
To learn more about the whole series, and to set the proper foundation with a powerful vision-casting exercise, click here.
To learn more about the physical-nutritional component, click here.
Check out the other new mom nutrition myths: Myth #1, Myth #3, Myth #4, Myth #5, Myth #6, and Myth #7.
And now, welcome back to “Why common nutrition advice for new moms is all wrong (and what to do instead).” Here’s Myth #2.
New mom nutrition myth #2
“Drop the fat to lose the baby weight.”
Why it’s faulty
The baby’s out.
But you still look pregnant, even though you’d rather not. You can’t wait to lose the weight and get back to your pre-pregnancy size.
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common mind frame after birth. I say “unfortunately” because whether or not you fit into your wardrobe shouldn’t drive how you fuel yourself and your newborn.
It’s not your fault. Society conditions us to put appearance top of mind. Trim is in, baby or not.
Trouble is, what’s healthy in one season of life may not be the best in all seasons. (Remember that from the intro to this myth-busting series?) A few extra pounds after birth are part of nature’s beautiful design: they provide stored nutrients to power your baby through the first six months of breastfeeding.
Aggressively shedding your baby weight, especially too soon, can compromise your baby’s weight.
But even if losing weight were the goal, limiting dietary fat isn’t the solution.
Dietary fat, distinct from the adipose tissue that pads your body, is a critical macronutrient that aids myriad bodily functions. Among many other roles, fat
- soothes and rebuilds damaged tissue
- aids digestion and absorption
- transports vitamins
- improves bowel function and elimination
- builds cell membranes and key hormones
- provides energy
- stabilizes blood sugar
- generates warmth
- enhances satiation
- aids postnatal weight loss
Did you catch that last one?
Getting enough fat in your diet actually improves your body’s ability to shed the excess weight! Avoiding fats, on the other hand, prompts cravings for carbohydrates and junk foods that trigger weight gain, blood sugar instability, insufficient lactation, hormone imbalances, and unstable moods.
Furthermore, fat is crucial for baby’s proper development, especially neurological. Did you know that both breast milk and the brain are roughly 60 percent fat?
Given that, would you want to limit this life-giving nutrient? Don’t skimp for baby’s sake!
What to do instead
Partake liberally of healthy fats. These include nutrient-dense, whole-food sources like
- ghee (clarified butter)
- coconut products
- olive oil
- egg yolks
- animal fats
- cod liver oil and oily fish
- nuts and seeds, preferably soaked
- full-fat dairy, preferably raw or fermented (if tolerated)
You may notice the emphasis on saturated fats (like coconut oil) and cholesterol (abundant in egg yolks, for example). Not to be vilified, as was especially the case in the misplaced concerns of the last century, saturated fats and cholesterol are essential contributors to all those benefits highlighted above.
Besides, optimal postpartum nutrition doesn’t mean deprivation. Quite the contrary, new moms should enjoy some healthy decadence, and who can argue that a generous dollop of butter, cream, or coconut oil doesn’t make food tastier?
In contrast, stay away from hydrogenated oils and trans fats in processed and fried foods, which actually reduce the good fats in breast milk, as well as industrial seed oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower, which tend to provoke inflammation.
As a new mom, oust the myth that fats indiscriminately make you fat. Instead, choose healthy fats to accompany every postpartum meal and snack.
Put aside deprivation and body image stress. Trust ancient wisdom, modern science, and nature’s design. Fuel your body with the fat it needs.
The immediate upshot? You feel better: more energy, better satiety, smoother digestion, faster recovery, stabler moods. Baby benefits, too.
The long-term “side effect”? Your body comes back into balance naturally and those pounds melt off on their own—no stressing, calorie counting, or fat phobia required. Plus, baby gets a boost that improves brainpower, behavior, and more—for a lifetime.
Wondering how else to give baby the best start? Check out our full postpartum guide.
There you have it: Myth #2 in “Why common nutrition advice for new moms is all wrong (and what to do instead).”
But don’t stop with knowledge—take action.
If relevant, apply this tip now, for yourself and your family.
How can you ensure mom gets liberal healthy fats, especially in the first six weeks after birth?
Share what you learn with someone you know. Even if this tip doesn’t apply to you right now, it can likely benefit someone in your midst.
Did a friend just have a baby? Bring her a meal home-cooked with healthy oils, or simply a jar of ghee, and let her know why: because healthy fats dramatically improve postpartum nutrition and recovery.
Make sure she jumps on the bandwagon so she doesn’t fall into the fat trap—or any of the other myths we’ll be unveiling in this series.
Let your voice be heard. What’s your take on Myth #2? Do you agree, or disagree? What’s your experience with ample dietary fat after birth?
Bring your comments, questions, insights, and objections to the Preparing to Parent community. We want to hear from you!
Stay tuned for Myth #3. Until then, together we are “Preparing to Parent: Growing Families with Purpose…on Purpose.”
P.S. I’m not the only functional and ancestral nutrition practitioner embracing a sensible and respectful approach to the post-baby body. Registered dietician Lily Nichols, aka the Pilates Nutritionist (and an unabashed friend of fat herself), recently started a series of her own, to help new moms love the skin they’re in. Check out her Post Baby Body Love.
Stacy Claxton, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, Ayurvedic Health Practitioner and Educator, and Perinatal Specialist, is one half of the dynamic duo behind Preparing to Parent, where she and her identical twin, Erin, are “growing families with purpose…on purpose.” This passionate sister pair loves caring for the tender and vulnerable bodies, minds, and souls of new beings and new moms and wielding words with impact on their holistic health blog. Join their family for free recipes and more.