If you have just given birth, you need good nutrition to support your recovery. If you are breastfeeding, what you eat will have a direct impact on the health and growth of the baby. To support the growth and development of the baby, breastfeeding mothers often need higher doses of many nutrients than they need during pregnancy. It’s essential for you to have optimal nutrient intake if you want to feel your best and have the energy to take proper care of your infant.
Vitamin A is important for immunity, healthy vision, and tissue growth. It can help the baby stay healthy if you are breastfeeding. Accessing vitamin A through breast milk is important in the early months when the baby is growing rapidly. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s found in many foods, such as leafy green vegetables, fish oils, beef liver, and eggs.
Iron may not technically be a vitamin, but it’s essential for your postpartum recovery. It replenishes the iron you lost during childbirth. If you’re breastfeeding, your iron stores are needed to supply your baby with iron for proper development. Some good sources of iron include red meat and green leafy vegetables.
If you are extremely low in iron, receiving intravenous iron therapy at home from medical professionals is likely your best option. Correcting your low blood iron levels can help to improve dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms of iron deficiency.
All the B vitamins work together in a process that affects how your neurotransmitters function. This influences brain chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, that affect your mood. Taking a full spectrum of B vitamins can boost your mood and your energy.
Vitamin B6 helps to regulate your breast milk production. You need B12 for the proper development of red blood cells and brain and nerve cells. Fatigue, depression and headaches and gastrointestinal issues are common with a lack of vitamin B12. Babies without enough B12 are often more irritable and have an increased risk of failure to thrive. The best sources are animal foods like tuna, liver, beef, and salmon. Vegans need to take a B12 supplement.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in foods like citrus fruits. It plays a role in healing wounds and controlling infections. As it isn’t stored, you need to get enough on a daily basis through the food you eat or supplements. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals appear to play a role in the development of diseases like heart disease and cancer. Delayed wound healing and fatigue are common symptoms of a lack of vitamin C. It also aids iron absorption.
Vitamin D supports the immune system, brain and nervous system. It helps to protect cells from oxidative stress and can reduce the risk of postpartum anxiety or depression. Spending enough time in the sun with your baby can provide you with vitamin D, but you can also eat fatty fish like salmon and tuna as they are good sources of vitamin D. Egg yolks and fortified dairy and orange juice are other good dietary sources. Vitamin D is necessary for helping the baby to absorb calcium and phosphorus and develop strong bones.
Vitamin E tends to dip postpartum, so you may need to supplement this antioxidant. Vitamin E is especially needed in the two months postpartum to help build immune function and develop the lung system in newborns. Taking a supplement of vitamin E for about six months after birth can provide your baby with the necessary antioxidant support.
Vitamin K helps to form blood clots and stop bleeding. Babies are born with very little vitamin K in their systems, and your breast milk contains low amounts of it. This is why babies are given a once-off intramuscular shot of vitamin K at birth. When vitamin K is given at birth, it protects against bleeding that can occur due to low levels of this essential vitamin.
The postpartum recovery period takes time, and you need a balanced diet to help you recover. In some cases, it is difficult to get all the nutrients you need from food, and you may have to use a supplement. If a blood test identifies that your iron count is low, you may have to take an iron supplement or arrange for an intravenous iron drip. Without the above vitamins, your postpartum recovery will be affected and is likely to take longer.
Written by Sofia Alves