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There’s nothing quite like the exhaustion you feel when recovering from birth and finding your way as a new Mama. While some days it feels like you could bathe in coffee and it still wouldn’t be enough, there are some ways you can get your energy fix without resorting to copious amounts of caffeine. In fact, there’s food that will not only help nourish you post delivery, but will help boost energy as a new Mama too.
It would be a little insulting for me to say that if you’re finding yourself exhausted you should try and sleep more, so instead I’ll say you should see if you can outsource any tasks and call in some help for getting things done. This can be as simple as buying premade meals, hiring someone to cook for you, hiring a cleaner, or asking friends and family to cook a meal here and there for you.
Most of the time, people genuinely want to help, they just don’t know how.
Aside from that, it’s also a good idea to speak to your doctor or midwife if you’re finding yourself more exhausted than you feel is ‘normal’. I know, that’s such a broad thing to say, but you know you and you know your limits. You may find you’re lacking in some vitamins, or a few tweaks to your regime may make all the difference.
But for now, let’s chat about the foods we can eat to boost energy as a new mama, and how they can add nourishment and help your healing process without being bland and gross.
Salmon & Other Oily Fish
Salmon is a fantastic superfood for new Mamas. It is all about the DHA when it comes to the benefits of salmon on the body. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid, which helps stimulate the brain and central nervous system. It is also a key component for your baby’s development and can be found in human breast milk.
Interestingly, those mums who eat a diet rich in DHA have been found to have higher amounts in their breast milk, therefore, salmon is not only perfect for providing all of the essential vitamins and nutrients to provide energy, but also adds even more goodness to that Mama milk.
You lactation consultant (IBCLC) will give you more specific guidance, and it can be different for each region, however, be mindful not to overdo the amount of salmon you eat, and try when possible to opt for wild and sustainable fish. This is because, like all oily fish, salmon can contain small traces of mercury, so keeping to 2 – 3 serves per week is fine. Fish such as shark (flake) are best to avoid when possible (but don’t stress if you happen to have a small amount) as they are higher in mercury than most fish.
Lean Beef or Pork & Iron Rich Foods
When your iron levels are low, energy can be depleted quickly. A great way to ensure that you are full of energy is by consuming iron-rich foods, such as lean beef or pork, eggs, nuts and seeds, and beans. All of the above will provide an ample serving of iron, which will lead to not only more energy, but better management of energy consumption.
Lean beef or pork, eggs, and nuts and seeds also contain plentiful B vitamins and protein. Protein and B vitamins are essential for retaining lean muscle mass while promoting fat loss and ensures that the breastmilk is loaded with baby-boosting goodness. The increased iron, protein and vitamin content will help you power through the day and provide long-lasting energy.
Another superfood that is stacked with iron is raw cacao. That’s right, you can get your iron dose from this chocolate delight! In fact, it is the highest plant-based source of iron available. Winner. Plus it’s packed full of magnesium too which has a whole heap of other postnatal benefits.
You can make a heap of different cacao based snacks like fudgey chocolate (almond butter + raw cacao powder + rice malt syrup to taste) or even use it as a base for a delicious hot chocolate drink.
Blueberries, Oranges, Strawberries & Bananas
Fruit is a fantastic way to get your sweet kick without the massive dose of sugar (and with all the beneficial fibre!).
Blueberries are a fantastic source of rich vitamins and minerals to help keep your body’s energy levels up. They are full of antioxidants, which help remove toxins from your body and promote high-levels of overall health and wellness. Plus they are delicious!
Oranges are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, most notably, Vitamin C and fibre. Vitamin C helps keep the immune system in good order, and if you are not having to fight colds or flu, then you have more energy for caring for yourself and your newborn.
Strawberries are a delicious addition to any smoothie or fruit bowl! They also pack a punch in the antioxidant and vitamin C department (winner) and compared to other fruit, they are relatively low in sugar, which is amazing considering how sweet they are! Yum!
Bananas are natures energy boosters and contain potassium which supports cardiovascular health as well as the health of your muscles – including your uterus which takes time to recover from carrying a baby and childbirth. They are also known to boost energy quickly, and help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Fruit are also portable food sources, so you can always have some to hand, whether you are at home or out and about.
Brown Rice & Whole Grains
Brown rice is a fantastic choice to add to an energy-boosting meal. Unlike white rice, which has been processed to the point of containing almost zero nutrition, brown rice is loaded with body-boosting goodness. Brown rice is full of fibre, manganese, selenium, and niacin. All of this help promote stable blood sugar levels and as brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, it takes longer to digest and provides consistent and constant energy.
The same goes for whole grains, and especially those used to make bread and pasta. Much in the same way as brown rice is unprocessed and retains much of its goodness, grains are the same. A slice of whole grain bread with real butter on it (yes, real butter with all of the healthy fats it provides) will give you all of the energy and micronutrients that white bread and vegetable spread cannot.
If you are looking for steady energy and not a quick fix, then brown rice and whole grains will prove to be invaluable to you.
Eggs & Dairy
If you are not intolerant to eggs and dairy then they will give you some much-needed energy throughout the day.
Eggs are loaded with protein and micronutrients. In fact, eggs contain nearly all of the vitamins and minerals that the body requires for proper functioning. A couple of boiled eggs and a few slices of whole wheat toast will give you plenty of energy to see you through the day. You can even boil some eggs in a batch, cool them down and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack.
Dairy will provide you with lots of different vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin B, both of which are used in energy production. Dairy also provides you with a good source of fatty acids and sufficient calories to pull you through even the longest of days. Be sure to stick to the full-fat dairy rather than the skim or low fat, while higher in calories, it is a far healthier option.
While water is not a food, it is the most important part of our diet and helps keep us alive. Breastfeeding Mama’s need to be super mindful of their water intake to ensure that they are staying hydrated to keep up the demand of breast milk for their baby.
Some research suggests that anywhere up to 80% of the population is dehydrated at any given time. And when you think about it, it’s not hard to see how this is so.
Dehydration will zap the energy levels like nothing else can and make you feel lethargic and out of sorts. Keeping on top of your water intake doesn’t have to be hard, and if you don’t particularly enjoy water, you can add some frozen fruit to it to make it a little tastier or even opt for sparkling mineral water and lemon juice to get your fizz kick.
Keeping yourself fed and properly nourished will be your best bet at being able to boost your energy as a new Mama. While you may be interested in losing your baby weight or spending time eating quick and easy food, now is not the time for that.
By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your child, and the more energy you have throughout the day, the more time you can spend enjoying your newborn and all that comes with it.
So enjoy nourishing food, sleep when you can, and enjoy all those beautiful newborn snuggles.