Postpartum meal planning: What to eat after the baby arrives
So your little bundle of joy and chaos has arrived (or is about to). Congratulations! I’m so proud of you for doing your best when it comes to fitness and nutrition throughout your pregnancy.
Now you have a whole new postpartum journey ahead of you. After both my babies, I had to keep reminding myself to take it slow – your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth, and it takes time to recover. So remember, there is no rush to return to your pre-pregnancy fitness or jump into a perfect postpartum meal plan. Take it at your own pace.
How do I get my postpartum meals back on track?
Now is the time to let go of ‘perfect’ – you’re going to need to be flexible with your diet for a while as you settle into a new rhythm.
If you’re an Emily Skye FIT member following the FIT Post-Pregnancy program, you can select the Strength & Tone in your settings. This will adjust your meal plan to suit your current needs.
If you’re not a member of my program, the most important thing to focus on for your postpartum meal planning is getting adequate nutrition that gives you enough energy to recover following childbirth and look after your little one. Take a look at an example of the kind of meals and snacks you can use to meet your needs below.
I’m breastfeeding – what do I need to eat?
Breastfeeding burns up energy, and your body is taking nutrients from you to make milk for your baby. So if you're postpartum and breastfeeding, FIT Advanced Sports Dietitian Lisa Middleton suggests you will need an estimated extra 300–500 calories per day on top of your basic calorie needs to make sure you’re not left depleted.
If you’re part of the FIT Fam, you’ll have access to heaps of nutritious snack recipes – in addition to your main meal plan – to keep you satisfied.
It’s also important to note that everyone is different, and needs will change as your baby’s feeding patterns change – trust your body and use your hunger levels to inform your choices, too.
Breastfeeding also increases your fluid requirements by around 500ml (3-4 glasses) per day. So take your water bottle with you wherever you go, but also remember you can get this fluid from smoothies, home-made juices, soups and tea. Try to avoid having coffee close to your baby’s feeding time, and it’s safest to avoid drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers should also ensure they’re getting adequate:
- Calcium – choose calcium-rich snacks, e.g. smoothies, yoghurt, cheese or tinned salmon on rice cakes.
- Iron – eat iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, legumes, eggs and leafy greens.
- Fatty acids – aim to include oily fish (e.g. salmon) in meals at least 3 times a week.
- Iodine – you may require a breastfeeding multivitamin to meet your needs.
Vegetarian and vegan mothers may require further supplements – speak to your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian.
I’m not breastfeeding – what do I need to eat?
If you’re postpartum but not breastfeeding, just do your best to eat nutritious foods that will give you the energy you need to look after the little one.
The best dishes for postpartum meal prep
Having some frozen meals handy can make your postpartum meal planning a lot easier. Using spare time to batch cook a nourishing recipe (or freezing a few of your favorites before the baby arrives) will ensure you’ve got access to nourishing, healthy food that you actually want to eat when you don’t have time to cook.
It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of cooking more than you need so you can start utilising leftovers in your postpartum meal plan.
Meals to batch cook for the freezer
Casserole & stew
Meals to use as leftovers
Along with the dishes above, these meals will store well in your fridge for 2–3 days.
One-pot bakes & pies
Pasta & pasta bakes
What should a day of postpartum meals look like?
Looking for some inspo for your postpartum meal prep? Here’s what a great day of fuelling yourself looks like when you’ve just had a baby. Keep in mind that every woman is different, and you may need to eat more or less than this.
Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats
Keep it simple with these overnight oats. With low-GI carbs for energy and an impressive 23 grams of protein, the best thing about this breakfast is that you can make it in bulk and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
Morning snack: Choc Chip Protein Mug Cake
A chocolate protein fix you can cook in the microwave.
Lunch: Pulse Pasta Salad
A literal handful of ingredients can give you this nourishing pasta salad, filled with plenty of fibre, protein and healthy fats.
Optional afternoon snack: Raspberry Chia Snack Smoothie
When you’ve only got one arm free (because the other is holding the baby) a snack you can drink is your friend.
Dinner: Slow-Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Soup
Easy to cook, easy to freeze, and full of vegetables and lean protein, this soup is the perfect addition to your postpartum meal prep dinner schedule.
You’ve got this, mama!
With a new baby to care for, the early weeks after giving birth are a time to go with the flow. Your ‘return to normal’ – including any weight loss – will be different to anyone else’s, so don’t compare yourself. It takes 9 months to grow a baby, so it’s going time to get back to anything close to your pre-pregnancy body. Just stay focused on feeding your baby and keeping yourself healthy.
If you’re looking to regain your strength after having a baby, I’ve got you. Try my dedicated postpartum workout program FIT Post-Pregnancy, including meal plans and expert advice, for free for 7 days at Emilyskyefit.com/join-us.
Personal trainer • Founder
Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.
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