As a new parent, you have so many worries of the unknown. One worry on your mind might be how will I have time to make food for my family? How can you take care of yourself while taking care of a new baby?
“New parents are busy and may be sleep deprived,” said Melissa Emmerich, Obstetrics and Gynecology physician with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “By having a few meals prepared ahead and frozen, they are more likely to make healthy choices and less likely to resort to ‘fast food’ and pizza, etc. This is especially true if the meals they plan and prepare are loaded with lean protein and vegetables.”
Nutrition needs for postpartum moms
Dr. Emmerich advises that new moms and breastfeeding women especially are in need of extra calcium (1000 mg daily), fiber (at least 30 g daily), and protein (71 g daily). Additionally, breastfeeding moms also need extra water for adequate milk production.
Lactation consultants, like those available with Marshfield Clinic Health System, are great resources, along with your health care provider to explain proper nutrition for breastfeeding needs.
“Increasing whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats like omega 3 and omega 6, will increase nutritional benefits of food,” Dr. Emmerich said.
Sharing healthy habits
During pregnancy, weight gain is inevitable. Every woman is different, and there are healthy weight gain recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After baby is born, women often have expectations to lose weight.
Having freezer meals planned can help with weight loss after pregnancy. Fast foods, restaurant foods and ultra- processed foods tend to be high in added salt, calories and unhealthy fats. Avoiding soda, pasta dishes, desserts and ultra-processed foods will help with weight loss after pregnancy.
“Most importantly, healthy eating habits should be modeled for and shared with children,” Dr. Emmerich said. “Parents can take the lead in raising children who eat healthy by setting a good example from birth onward.”
Planning meals ahead
A few months before your due date, you can begin preparing freezer meals to have once your baby arrives. Dr. Emmerich said planning also can help increase nutritional content and calorie control for improved energy.
“Foods higher in fiber and protein increase energy. Foods high in starches and fats can weigh you down,” Dr. Emmerich said, “just think about how you feel after a heavy carbohydrate rich meal.”
As always, talk to your women’s health or primary care provider if you need help adjusting to parenthood.