Mommies have the responsibility to care and provide for their little ones, but what should moms be eating to ensure they are in the best health and help them to recover back to their pre-pregnancy weight? Having the proper diet and nutrition will not affect lactation nor your waistline. Weighing in with MommyDiaries is Wu Li Ping, certified nutritionist for TRIBE nutrition for all their tailored meal plans.
When is the right time to begin a diet plan to lose weight after birth?
Natural Labour: You can generally start a weight-loss program 2-3 months after childbirth and during this period of time, the body is slowly recovering. But you’re not going to be able to do any strenuous exercise, just some gentle aerobic exercise, no more than an hour at a time.
Studies have shown that it is easier to revert to your pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months of giving birth because in this period of time the new mother’s body fat is still in the free state and you don’t end up with a hard-to-lose amount of fat. Skin elasticity repair difficulty is less and the body’s endocrine and metabolism are gradually returning to normal. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and choose the right weight-loss method, not only will lactation not be affected but milk flow will also be more smooth.
Caesarean Birth: The best time is 5-6 months after delivery because women who have c-sections heal more slowly than those who have natural births. Do some gentle aerobic exercise during this period, not strenuous exercise.
If you are still breastfeeding but want to lose weight, how do you manage without compromising nutrients you need for weight loss?
Main principles of a diet which would allow you to manage this:
Eat less food at each meal but eat more frequently.
For different cycles, choose different dietary methods
Meal 1: 6:30-7:00
Meal 3 :12:00- 13:00
In the first week after childbirth, the postpartum diet should be light; do not eat food that is too greasy. At this time, the stomach still has not recovered so avoid aggravating your stomach with any added burden so as to avoid the occurrence of diarrhea.
In the second week, slowly add some fish soup, chicken soup, eggs. At this time, the milk quantity consumed by the baby increases so in order to avoid a shortage of breast milk, there is a need to properly supplement with food that is high in protein.
In the third week, you can enrich the types of protein; for example, eat some poultry and beef and increase the proportion of protein gradually but keep the number of vegetables and staple foods unchanged, and keep the quantity of fruit in moderation, maintain the daily amount of 400g
After 5 months, have three to four meals a day, because at this time the baby can eat some complementary food, milk demand is smaller than before, so we can increase the proportion of staple grains. Protein sources should mainly be fish, seafood and beef, supplemented by cattle. The daily amount of vegetables consumed should not be less than 500g.
How is nutrition different for pregnant women vs post-pregnant women?
Early pregnancy/First Trimester (1-12 weeks):
Early fetal growth is relatively slow and requires limited nutrition. No extra energy is required in the early stages. Pregnancy reaction is more severe when combined with pregnancy, Appetite will decline and the expectant mother might eat less and less every day. Eat “light-tasting foods”, avoid spicy foods, early daily food/energy intake can be maintained at 1,300 kcal-1,500 kcal.
In the early stages of pregnancy, try to eat as much grains and fruit rich in crude fibre carbohydrates (e.g. corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, buckwheat) as much as possible in the early stages of pregnancy to reduce the chances of a poor response to pregnancy. Apples, berries, and cereals can be consumed at roughly 150 to 200 grams a day, while protein and fat intake should be relatively low in order to avoid the harmful effects on the early brain development of fetus caused by the production of ketone bodies by lipolysis.
During the first three months of pregnancy, the fetus is in the developmental stage so try to do some gentle exercises, such as walking, yoga for pregnant women, etc.
Second trimester (13-27 weeks):
The second trimester of the fetus enters a period of rapid growth, when the mother’s uterus, mammary glands, etc. are also developing gradually, And the mother also needs to store energy and nutrients for postpartum lactation. The recommended daily food/energy intake is 1,800 kcal-2,000 kcal.
It’s the period of rapid fetal development, from the middle of pregnancy we add about 50 grams of high-quality protein (fish, shrimp, beans, lean meat), and fat to the total daily diet of 25% to 30%. The amount of water and carbs accounts for 50% of the total daily diet, carbs and water choice as far as possible high fiber content of coarse grains, reduce the intake of fine water and carbs.
Fetal growth is stable, can do some exercises according to your own situation, such as pregnancy yoga, walking, etc., exercise can not only ease our emotional stress, but also help us to control weight and improve our fitness.
Third trimester (28-40 weeks):
More nutrients are needed in the third trimester, and the amount of food a pregnant woman eats will increase. This is when you need to control your appetite. In addition to the normal development of the fetus, it is necessary to avoid becoming overweight and to reduce the risks that might affect childbirth. It is recommended to consume 2,100 kcal-2,200 kcal per day in the third trimester.
Eat smaller amounts. Also, avoid high-fat foods (butter, cheese, animal fat, etc.). Reduce your intake of fine grains and carbohydrates and avoid the risk of high blood sugar in pregnancy. Protein increases by about 80 to 100g per day. Fat accounts for 20 percent of the total diet and 45 percent of carbohydrates. There is also a need to increase the intake of iron and zinc in foods (e.g. liver, lean meat, legumes, spinach, oilseed rape, etc.), to reduce iron deficiency anemia and fetal abnormalities in late pregnancy.
The weight of the fetus and the weight of the pregnant woman is increased, and the pregnant woman will find it beneficial to take such steps as practicing breathing during labor and yoga that is beneficial to natural birth. Avoid strenuous exercise and take it easy when sitting, standing, climbing stairs, etc.
If you are expecting and are interested in a meal plan, you can order yours at www.tribenutrition.com here. Use the code TNMD4 for a 5% discount at check out
Post-natal Nutrition: Energy Intake
One month after delivery:
Postpartum lactating woman’s body is in a weak state, sleep time is not stable, easy to cause body secretion disorders, appetite decline, but on the other hand, one also needs to ensure the quality of breast milk in the early stage. Gastrointestinal function is still in recovery. We suggest eating lesser at each meal but eat more frequently, add more fish soup, chicken soup, congee, suggested lactation female’s daily food/energy intake should be around 2500 kcal-2600 kcal.
Need to ensure the quality of mother’s milk, should eat high-quality protein, such as fish and shrimp, poultry, eggs as these are complete protein sources which improve the quality of milk. During this period protein intake should be about 30%, fat intake 20%, and carb intake 50%.
The body functions are restored very slowly and strenuous exercise is not recommended for mothers. Do some gentle exercise, such as walking and stretching, according to your personal situation.
3 months after delivery:
This is also the best time to restore the body, recommended daily energy intake for women should be 1,800 kcal-2,000 kcal
Many lactating mothers began to have weight-loss plans that allow them to eat properly, even though the three nutrients consumed during this period were the same as for one month after delivery, But our food choices are different. Whole grains will increase in proportion, choosing cereals and vegetables high in dietary fiber (e.g., brown rice, purple rice, buckwheat, whole grain bread, collards, mustard). Reduce saturated fat intake, increase unsaturated fat intake (eg nuts) and avoid excessive sugar and fat intake.
The body’s various functional recovery is almost done, can do some gentle exercises, such as post-natal yoga, stretching exercises, walking and other gentle exercises, to avoid excessive “fat hoarding”.
About Wu Li Ping:
She is currently working as a nutrition consultant in TRIBE Nutrition, has 5 years experience in designing meal plans for weight loss, hypertension, high blood sugar, high blood lipid, and diabetics. She has done nutrition talks for bodybuilders, teenagers and pregnant women. During her past 5 years of work, she has kept on learning and acquired rich working experience and knowledge. She has been invited by Beijing united family hospital, HUICHEN network, Beijing no.11 middle school to give a nutrition talk for students and pregnant ladies.
Note: The selection of the entire duration of pregnancy and postnatal exercise and the associated duration of exercise should be determined by the advice of a professional physician and accompanied by a professional trainer, as well as by the individual’s physical condition.
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