Postpartum nutrition | What do I eat?

Postpartum nutrition involves eating nutritious foods to help aid recovery after childbirth, so where do you start?

Preparing for this special time focuses on providing the body with the right vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients for postpartum-specific needs, such as improving energy levels, supporting physical healing and enhance mood.

The postpartum period is vital for a new mother and her body. Nutrient-dense, balanced meals are essential for women immediately following childbirth. Eating whole foods can help recover from labour and delivery and provide energy to care for a baby.

Why is Postpartum Nutrition Important?

Postpartum nutrition is essential because it helps to replenish the body after childbirth and support recovery. The postpartum period can be physically demanding for a new mother, and proper nutrition can help provide energy and strength. Additionally, many postpartum women experience mood swings due to fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation, which the quality of food consumed can influence. Eating whole foods makes you more likely to have stable sugar and insulin levels that support mood and energy.

The Health Benefits of Eating a Nutritious Diet.

Eating a nutritious diet after having a baby is essential for a new mother's recovery. A diet full of quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help with her energy levels and promote healing, stabilise blood sugar levels and better sleep. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give mother minerals and vitamins to help reduce stress, heal wounds, boost immunity, and improve overall health. Furthermore, eating a balanced diet can help ensure healthy lactation if she is breastfeeding.

Your Postpartum Diet Can Set You up for Years to Come.

As a new mother, you embark on an incredibly important postpartum healing and recovery journey. To fully achieve balance in your health during this time, it is vital to understand the essential nutrients your body needs that you can obtain from nutritious food. Let's explore which vitamins and minerals play critical roles in restoring strength, energy, and vitality after childbirth: naturally found within food sources and supplements available for added support! Here we will provide valuable insight into why optimal nutrient intake matters most now more than ever – helping mothers learn more about nutrient intake during a mother's early stages after childbirth: an informative journey that will help ensure your continued well-being overall.

Following childbirth, a woman's body undergoes several hormonal changes to adjust to the new reality of nurturing an infant. While diet is rarely a conversation during this period, it is essential for optimal postpartum health.

Research shows diet is essential in hormone regulation, healing and restoring health. During postpartum, women should focus on consuming the highest quality diet that includes plenty of freshly cooked meals with a wide variety of nutrients to meet their needs and support optimal health. Additionally, it is essential to be mindful, listen to your body eating foods you enjoy, and be conscious of nutrient needs that may vary depending on individual circumstances. A whole foods diet can improve healing and increase overall energy levels at such a vital time - allowing mums to enjoy motherhood with strength and vitality more fully.

The Best Postpartum Foods to Consume

When purchasing and preparing food, choose the food you will eat and enjoy; the best postpartum foods to eat are the ones you won't be wasting your money on. Make decisions based on your taste preferences and nutritional needs during this critical recovery period. The best postpartum foods to eat are the ones you won't waste your money on. Make decisions based on your dietary requirements, cultural background, and personal favourites, ensuring you consume various nutrient-dense meals to support your body's healing process. Remember, eating well-balanced, delicious food during the postpartum period not only aids in physical recovery but also contributes to emotional well-being, making it essential to choose meals that satisfy both your taste buds and nutritional demands.

Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastfeeding mothers should make sure to get enough of the essential macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These macronutrients provide energy and help to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers need to get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B6 and B12 provide both mother and baby essential nutrients. Calcium and iron are also necessary for maintaining a balanced diet while breastfeeding. Finally, it is imperative for breastfeeding mothers to drink plenty of fluids such as water or milk to keep their bodies hydrated and their milk supplies up.

Having whole foods on hand and ready-made snacks will prevent you from reaching for highly processed, sugar-loaded snacks you may crash off, affecting your mood.

Consume enough calories from nutritious food, and have snacks on hand. Breastfeeding requires an additional 500 calories equalising to an extra meal like a quinoa salad with grilled chicken or 1/2 cup rice and a serving of dahl.

Key nutrients

Benefits of Vitamin B12 during Postpartum

Vitamin B12 is essential for postpartum, aiding in the absorption of iron and various other critical bodily functions. It's most commonly found in meat-based diets and can be supplemented through different fortified foods and supplements. Vitamin B12 helps improve their energy levels, nervous system function, sleep cycles, and physical endurance.

How to get more vitamin b12 out of your diet

Vitamin B12 can be found in beef, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy products, shellfish and seafood. Some plant-based foods, such as fortified nutritional yeast and certain breakfast cereals, also contain Vitamin B12. Supplements of Vitamin B12 are also available for those who do not get adequate amounts from food sources.

Benefits of Iron During Postpartum

PostpartumPostpartum healing is a critical phase that necessitates a well-rounded diet, particularly incorporating slow-cooked or batch-cooked meals abundant in protein and iron. Iron, a vital nutrient, is crucial in replenishing energy levels, supporting cognitive function, enhancing endurance, and facilitating the production of haemoglobin—the red blood cells responsible for oxygen transportation. By prioritising slow-cooked meals during the postpartum period, you can enjoy sustained energy release over an extended period, in contrast, to quick-fix meals, while simultaneously replenishing depleted nutrients necessary for post-childbirth recovery.

Food Rich in Iron

To optimise your postpartum wellness journey, include slow-cooked proteins with significant sources of iron, such as organ meats, beans, dark leafy greens, chicken, and red meat, in their diet several times per week. These nutrient-dense choices will help nourish your body, promote healing, and support your overall well-being during this important phase of motherhood.

Benefits of Calcium during Postpartum

Eating a diet high in calcium can be particularly beneficial during this time. Calcium helps keep bones and teeth strong, supports blood clotting, and maintains muscle and nerve functioning. Blood tests can reveal if there are any deficiencies in the postpartum diet necessary for health and well-being. Speak with a nutritionist to ensure the diet contains the nutrients required for a healthy postpartum period, including calcium.

Foods Containing Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral that can be found in many foods. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all great sources of calcium. Other dairy products, such as kefir and ricotta cheese, also contain significant amounts of calcium. Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens are excellent sources of calcium as well. Foods such as salmon and sardines also contain notable amounts of this mineral. Finally, certain nuts such as almond and Brazil nuts are also rich in calcium.

Benefits of Vitamin B6 during Postpartum

Vitamin B6 is essential for women who are in the postpartum period. This essential nutrient helps the body with metabolism, maintaining normal brain function and healthy nerve cells. Vitamin B6 also helps women replenish vital nutrients lost during childbirth, helping to reduce fatigue and stress induced by the postpartum period. Incorporating foods containing Vitamin B6 into one's diet can be highly beneficial. 

Foods Containing B6

Common sources of Vitamin B6 include tuna, chicken, potatoes, eggs, chickpeas, bananas and avocado. Other food sources rich in vitamins that can help improve health during this time are dark green vegetables, fruit, yoghurt and whole grains. A balanced nutritional diet and adequate intake of Vitamin B6 are recommended to ensure good health during the postpartum stage.

Benefits of Vitamin D3 during Postpartum.

New mothers must get the necessary nutrients to heal and restore body balance postpartum. Vitamin D3 is an incredibly beneficial nutrient for mood regulation following a baby's birth, which can be challenging to manage given all the other changes new moms experience. In addition to helping to improve mood, Vitamin D3 also supports healthy bones and teeth. 

Where can D3 Be Obtained?

New mothers often struggle to find the time and energy to go outside and benefit from natural Vitamin D from sunlight. However, if you can seize the chance to spend a few minutes outdoors during mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you can naturally boost your Vitamin D levels. Additionally, supplementing with vitamin D3 can support mood, calcium absorption and aid healing.

Fill Your Freezer Before the Baby Arrives. You Don't Have to do it Alone!

After giving birth, quality nutrition is even more critical for postpartum recovery. However, meal planning and preparation can seem daunting during those first few weeks of motherhood. It's a good idea to begin planning your meals and preparing freezer-friendly dishes before the baby comes. You can also request help from family and friends by asking them to coordinate a meal train or ordering pre-made meals from services like Dinner Ladies and The Whole Bowl Co. Finally, try to stick to nutritious whole foods for snacks and meals as much as possible to ensure that you get the right balance of nutrients during your postpartum recovery. If you have to read lengthy nutrition labels, chances are it's not real food.

Good postpartum nutrition starts at home

10 snack ideas.

Postpartum mothers should look for snacks that are easy to make, nutritious and filling. Here are five examples of such snacks. Some you can pre-make and take with you if you leave the house:

Here are 10 nutritious snacks that new mothers can incorporate into their postpartum diet:

1. Greek Yogurt with Berries: Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium, while berries provide antioxidants and vitamins. Combine them for a delicious and nutritious snack.

2. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and essential nutrients. Hard-boiled eggs make for a convenient and satisfying snack.

3. Scrambled eggs with leftover vegetables from last night's dinner.

4. Trail Mix: Create your trail mix using a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips for a balanced and energy-boosting snack.

5. Nut Butter and Banana: Spread a tablespoon of nut butter (almond or peanut butter) on a banana for a delicious blend of healthy fats, protein, and natural sweetness.

6. Avocado Toast: Top toast with mashed avocado for a snack that provides healthy fats, fibre, and essential nutrients.

7. Ricotta Cheese with Fresh Fruit: Ricotta cheese is a good source of protein, and pairing it with fresh fruits like berries or sliced peaches adds natural sweetness and additional vitamins.

8. Roasted Chickpeas: Roast chickpeas with a sprinkle of olive oil and your choice of seasonings for a crunchy and protein-rich snack.

9. Veggie Sticks with Hummus or Guacamole: Enjoy a variety of sliced vegetables, such as carrots, capsicums, and cucumber, with a side of hummus or guacamole for a nutritious and refreshing snack.

10. Overnight Oats: Prepare a jar of overnight oats by combining rolled oats, milk or yogurt, chia seeds, and your choice of toppings like sliced almonds, berries, or maple syrup. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and enjoy it as a quick and nourishing snack in the morning.

Remember to listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues and adjust portion sizes accordingly; this can change daily. These snacks provide essential nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, necessary for postpartum recovery and overall well-being.

Snack shopping list

  • Almond butter
  • Yoghurt of your choice
  • Hummus
  • Crackers or flatbread
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Eggs
  • Chia seeds
  • Capsicum
  • Carrot
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • apples
  • Frozen berries

The example shopping list aims to showcase a diverse range of whole foods and packaged options to simplify snacking and meal preparation. This list provides a balanced approach to support your nutrition and simplify your postpartum snacking and meal planning by incorporating a combination of wholesome ingredients and convenient choices. Not all elements will suit every woman or family.

Example shopping list

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Dark green leafy greens (rocket, spinach, bok choy)
  • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes)
  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Capsicum


  • Chicken breast or thigh
  • Salmon or other fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Tofu
  • Pork neck
  • Lamb shoulder

Whole Grains:

  • Rolled oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Wraps or flatbread
  • Pulse pasta

Healthy Fats:

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil for drizzling over salads 
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • Seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds)
  • Natural nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter)

Dairy and Dairy Alternatives:

  • Milk or plant-based milk (almond milk, oat milk)
  • Greek yogurt or coconut yoghurt
  • Ricotta cheese

Legumes and Pulses:

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans


  • Herbal teas

Spices and Seasonings:

  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Bone broth

Navigating the postpartum recovery period can be challenging, but the good news is that you can make it more manageable through your diet and lifestyle choices. When you're feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out to friends or family who are eager to assist. Kindly ask them to bring you a few pre-made meals when they visit. People often express their willingness to help, so take advantage of their support and say "YES" to a nourishing, ready-to-eat meal. If you still need to get a support network and can afford a food delivery, do it!

Remember, taking care of yourself is crucial during this transformative time, and you deserve to prioritise your well-being. If you need guidance regarding postpartum diet and lifestyle habits, consider booking a consultation today. By seeking professional advice, you can give yourself the best possible care and support during your postpartum journey.