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.
See below for an intro to the the physical-nutritional component.
We’re getting nutrition for brand-new moms all wrong.
I see it all the time in my work with pregnant and newly delivered women.
“Stock the freezer!”
“Drop the fat!”
“Hold the garlic!”
“Eat your greens!”
And a number of others.
While some recommendations may contain kernels of truth, nutrition advice for new moms is largely lacking—and even, at times, downright deplorable and flat-out wrong.
People mean well. It’s not their fault. They simply don’t know better. Even most medical professionals, health practitioners, and birth workers haven’t been taught what constitutes optimal post-pregnancy nutrition.
It’s also not your fault.
You probably haven’t heard this before.
Traditional postpartum wisdom was passed down from mothers, grandmothers, and aunts to daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces, and other younger women. Elders knew what foods to prepare and, perhaps more important, how to prepare them. But we’ve lost much of that wisdom today, when generations are separated and communities less tightly knit.
Instead, we’re conditioned to think we know what “healthy” eating is and to apply it uniformly.
Trouble is, what’s healthy in one season of life may not be the best in all seasons. You wouldn’t feed your newborn a superfood smoothie or your convalescing neighbor a five-course steak dinner, right?
Likewise, new moms need special attention when it comes to food.
And it’s not what you might think.
That’s why we’ve got some myth busting to do.
In this seven-part series, we’ll be tackling popular advice for new moms, explaining why it’s faulty, and sharing what to do instead.
Welcome to the new year. And the first part of our New Mom Success Series:
Why common nutrition advice for new moms is all wrong (and what to do instead)
Stay tuned for the first installment, all about stocking the freezer with premade meals before birth. Think that’s a good idea? Think again. We’ll give you the lowdown next time.
This myth busting might ruffle a few feathers, so let’s clear the air up front. What makes new mom nutrition one of the most important issues of our time, who am I to claim that, and how should you respond once you’re in the know?
Why is new mom nutrition so important?
It’s easier to stick with the status quo. To go with what you know, especially right after birth.
Chow down on hospital fare while you cuddle your new bundle of joy.
Eat the cheesy casserole your neighbor brought.
Plow through the holiday dessert table because you’re breastfeeding and you’re starving.
It can’t be that big of a deal, right? As long as you’re getting enough calories and baby’s gaining weight, it’s all good, no?
And I mean NO.
Those first 42 days with a baby, otherwise known as the “postpartum” period, can radically alter the next 42 years of your life.
This sacred 6-week season sets the foundation for the future—yours as well as your baby’s. It dictates your recovery, your baby’s development, and your family’s well-being. It even impacts any future children you might have and how you’ll enter menopause!
Yes, it really is that big of a deal.
Admit it or not, your daily dietary choices fuel everything you do. Given that, can you really afford to eat better tomorrow / next week / next month / next year / when you have time / after this holiday or that celebration / once you get through this stressful season?
New motherhood permits no leeway.
What you eat helps or hinders your hormone balance. Now.
What you eat dictates digestion and elimination. Now.
What you eat supports or sabotages your recovery. Now.
What you eat affects your milk supply. Now.
What you eat makes you happy or grouchy. Now.
What you eat makes baby contented or colicky. Now.
What you eat energizes or enervates. Now.
What you eat matters. Now.
Poor dietary choices in the early weeks can send that precarious hormone balance over the edge, tip into insomnia or mood instability, precipitate baby colic, diminish your milk supply, and jeopardize the tender, peaceful time with your newborn, not to mention your physical, mental, and emotional health for years to come.
The I-should-eat-better mentality can’t dominate your postpartum experience, or you (and your baby) will suffer the consequences. Empty calories, or poorly digested ones, don’t build healthy cells, tissues, babies, families, or futures.
That’s why this New Mom Success Series matters.
That’s why you, new mom or friend to a new mom in your midst, should care.
Let’s mother the mothers well, so they can mother their babies.
There’s no time to waste.
Who are you to challenge the status quo?
I’m glad you asked.
- Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Parenting Specialist
- Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner
- Ayurvedic Health Practitioner and Educator
- Yoga Instructor
who loves coaching women through simple, actionable diet and lifestyle changes that transform their lives.
But I didn’t start there.
I started with health challenges of my own, a detour from the offices of corporate America to the student halls of ancient Ayurvedic Medicine, and a perplexing question:
Why are all these older women I’m seeing in the health clinic plagued by so many physical, mental, and emotional complaints, complaints often traced to their childbearing years?
Once women have given birth, they tend to chalk up everything to that new reality.
“I had a baby…Of course my digestion / body weight / pelvic floor / menstrual cycle / hormone balance / thyroid function / [fill in your favorite physical symptom] is a little (or a lot) off.”
“I had a baby…Of course I’m anxious / depressed / stressed / exhausted / short-tempered / [fill in your favorite mental-emotional symptom].”
Consciously or not, we internalize the assumption, too often reinforced by medical professionals, that bearing a child changes our bodies and our minds—for the worse.
Can you relate?
But I have news for you: it doesn’t have to be that way!
In plumbing traditional approaches to preconception, pregnancy, and the postpartum period, I learned that the critical foundation laid before and immediately after birth can set women up to thrive in their postpartum bodies. While some of these practices and food traditions may be less well known or accepted in our culture, they have allowed women to have healthy, happy childbearing and childrearing years for millennia.
Do you want a taste of that?
This New Mom Success Series provides a gentle introduction. It distills some of what I’ve gleaned from formal study, the experience of seasoned mentors and fellow perinatal practitioners, and my ongoing work with new moms of all types.
I’m formally trained and clinically experienced in both modern Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® and ancient Ayurvedic Medicine. I marry the best of the East and West, the ancient and modern, the time-honored and cutting-edge—all within the wider framework of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health.
But what I’ve learned is simple, accessible, and as true today as it was in ages past.
You can’t build a strong edifice with shaky scaffolding or fuel a grueling marathon with cookie crumbs and nutrient-deficient snack packs.
Likewise, we can’t create a thriving future without wise choices today.
Let’s get back to basics together.
Let’s start a movement of mission-minded women set up for success with rock-solid postpartum periods grounded in life-giving nutrition.
What do I do now that I know?
Once you’re in the know, there’s no turning back. You can’t look on new motherhood quite the same way again. You can’t eat the same way after birth—and you wouldn’t want to, I’m sure, after this series.
Even if you’re convinced that there’s truth to ancient wisdom—this timeless knowledge for new moms—change can be hard. What exactly do you do with this information?
Traditional wisdom, despite its oldness, may feel all new at first. That’s why I’ve broken this series into six parts, so you can digest one piece of new mom nutrition advice at a time.
You get actionable steps on a single topic, which makes change feel more manageable. At the end of each part, I give you an opportunity to (1) implement and (2) inform.
- Implement. If relevant, put this tip into action now, for yourself and your family.
- Inform. Share what you learn with someone you know. Even if the tip doesn’t apply to you right now, it can likely benefit someone in your midst. Don’t leave them in the dark.
That’s it! Change starts with you—and with one step in the right direction.
But if you’re eager for more, and especially if you’re expecting, I won’t hold you back from taking another step or two.
Stock your kitchen now.
Plan ahead. Proper preparation is your best bet for new mom success. The P2P postpartum essentials guide can be your close companion on this journey into motherhood.
Reach out. If you need a personal strategist to figure out your new mom nutrition, contact me and let’s dive deeper together.
Until next time, together we are “Preparing to Parent: Growing Families with Purpose…on Purpose.”
P.S. We’re kicking off the new year with our New Mom Success Series, where we’ll be busting myths about new mom nutrition. You don’t want to miss this, and neither do your friends. Make sure they jump on the bandwagon so they don’t miss a myth. Plus, they’ll get a FREE power-packed recipe guide to begin nourishing themselves and their families better. Who doesn’t want to start off the new year on a healthier foot?
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.