The three months following birth are known as the ‘fourth-trimester’ period. It is integral that you eat well during this time. This is due to the fact that it will enable you to recover effectively from birth, help to restore your hormonal imbalances, and replenish diminished nutrients stores. Furthermore, all of this is especially vital if you are breastfeeding. For those who are not breastfeeding, due to not being able to or simply choosing not to, please take a look at my article on milk formulas.
Throughout your fourth trimester, it would be hugely beneficial to invest in a freezer that is well stocked with pre-prepared nourishing food. If you have a winter baby, avoid filling it with cold foods, and instead stock up on warming, hearty soups and stews.
As I have mentioned in other pregnancy blog post articles, it is still crucial to continue eating in a way that supports your blood sugar balance. A maintenance of your blood sugar balance has been shown to support postnatal mood. Anxiety and depression can be exacerbated when our blood sugar levels become unstable.
Fourth-trimester nutritional essentials
One thing that first time mothers are rarely told about is that you are likely to sweat, a lot, for the first few days after birth. Often women report feeling quite sweaty, particularly at night, for the first six weeks or so. Women sweat as a way of releasing the extra fluid that was retained during pregnancy. Thus restoring balance to the body.
Though it may seem counterproductive, it is really important to drink plenty during this period. This is because releasing fluid is actually a very water-intensive process. If you are not breastfeeding you should be drinking at least 6 glasses of water daily. And if you are breastfeeding, you should drink significantly more. Cucumber or citrus fruits can be added to water to make them more enjoyable, whilst also enriching the nutritional benefits. Furthermore, isotonic drinks and coconut water are considerable sources of hydration.
Omega 3 fats
While research on this topic is not conclusive, there is significant evidence to suggest that having healthy levels of EPA and DHA reduces the symptoms of postnatal depression. In countries where oily fish intake is low, there are higher incidences of postnatal depression. Studies have shown a correlation between increased blood levels of DHA and a reduction in the risk of postnatal depression. Therefore, it is particularly important to keep eating oily fish and continue to supplement with EPA and DHA during your third and fourth trimester.
During the third trimester, babies build the iron they need, usually taking it from your iron stores. Even if you have accumulated good iron stores through pregnancy, the birth process does result in some blood loss. Thus it is a good idea to focus on replenishing lost iron through iron-rich foods after birth. Such as leafy greens and pulses like lentils, both easily accessible and easy to work with cooking ingredients.
Zinc may have a positive effect on, and reduce the risk of postnatal depression. It supports the production and moderation of hormones. Getting enough zinc in your diet is also vital to support a healthy immune system and promote healing after birth. Hopefully, by your fourth trimester, zinc-rich foods would have already become a staple in your diet. Such as meat, shellfish and hearty legumes!
During the first few weeks of your baby’s life, you are likely to experience considerable changes in your hormones, which can feel like an emotional roller-coaster. Vitamin E is traditionally used to promote hormone balance. Eating foods rich in this after your baby’s birth can help restore a feeling of calm and zen. Vitamin E is also effective at helping wounds to heal, which is another postnatal benefit!
Turmeric & Ginger
Turmeric and ginger are both powerful anti-inflammatories, which support the immune cells and promote healing after birth. It is easy to incorporate both to your diet in a variety of ways. You can simply add a spoonful of turmeric to your rice, quinoa or couscous as it cooks. Add a few slices of stem ginger to a bowl of natural yoghurt, or brew up a batch of fresh ginger and lemon tea. To find out more breast-feeding superfoods, click here!