By Helen Crawley
Being a new mum is an overwhelming, exciting, exhausting and very new experience for many, and it can be difficult to manage your own needs as well as those of a new baby. Eating well is important for all new mums to help with recovery and caring for a new baby. Small, regular meals can be particularly useful in the early days, and a range of nutritious mini-meals can help mums coping with frequent nappy changes and feeds, however they choose to feed their babies. Learning to eat with one hand and rock or nurse a baby in another is a skill new mums learn incredibly quickly, so mini-meals that can be eaten one-handed can be particularly useful.
If you are breast-feeding exclusively in the first few months then you may need some extra energy (calories). However, some women find their appetite does not increase and, unless you feel hungry or are losing weight, there is no need to try to eat more. Drink when you feel thirsty and limit your alcohol and caffeine intake much as you did during pregnancy – the odd celebratory glass won’t hurt your baby, but most breast-feeding and new mums don’t feel like drinking much anyway. If you choose to have a drink, try not to exceed one or two units, once or twice a week.
Breast-feeding mums will always produce enough milk for their baby, even if they eat badly themselves – but it’s advisable to eat well for your own health and to ensure you are nutritionally prepared should you go on to have another baby in the future.
Most mums will want to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight in the months after they give birth, but women are all different, and however you choose to feed your baby, you may find it takes a while to return to your normal weight. It is probably a good idea to wait until the six-week check after giving birth before considering your weight and body shape, so that you have recovered from the birth and, if you are breast-feeding, so that this has become established. Many women find that their body rapidly returns to its pre-pregnancy shape once breast-feeding is well established and they are back to the same active lifestyle they had before becoming pregnant. Evidence suggests that, after three to four months, breast-feeding women are slimmer than women who don’t. If you are worried about your weight, talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP, as there’s specific advice that can be offered to women after childbirth.
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