Post-Natal Nutrition

We asked local Nutritionist and Personal Trainer Lindsay Holden of Pure Lifestyles to help us understand how to balance our body through nutrition, as we try to power through the daily demands of motherhood.

Throughout pregnancy your body is dedicated ensuring the optimum growth and development of your baby. Once you have your beautiful bundle, it’s important not to forget about looking after yourself as well as your baby. If you are breastfeeding, ensuring you take all the vital nutrients on board is even more important as your body is working hard and depleting its own stores to make the milk.

The first thing to mention is weight loss; many women strive to get their pre-baby bodies back too quickly. Remember the stress your body has been under creating a life and allow yourself time to recover. Crash diets are NOT the answer at any stage in life, especially not after giving birth. A long-term healthy eating routine is the best route to keep energy levels (and milk supplies) up. Plan every plate as ½ vegetables, ½ protein, ½ carbohydrate and a little dollop of fat.

Now let’s get a little more specific on the needs of a post-natal woman. Here is a list of certain nutrients you need to be more aware of and how you can ensure you are getting enough:

FOLIC ACID: Your reserves of this nutrient will be low after pregnancy and the demands are especially high if you are breast feeding. Like many nutrients, folic acid is present in most foods in small amounts so it is important to eat a variety of foods. The best sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses and nuts. If you don’t think your diet is sufficient take a supplement.

VITAMIN B12: You will need an extra supply of this vitamin if breast feeding. If you follow a strict vegetarian/vegan diet be sure to supplement with this vitamin as you won’t get it from your diet. Good sources of vitamin B12 are red meat, fish and dairy products.

IRON: Iron deficiency will make you feel even more fatigued than you probably already do! If your menstrual cycle has come back you AND you are breastfeeding you need more iron than most. Again, vegans/vegetarians may consider a supplement. Otherwise the best sources of iron are meat and fish and good sources are green leafy vegetables, pulses and nuts.

CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D: When breast feeding, your body will take calcium from your bones if you don’t supply enough from your diet. Those following vegan diets should consider supplementation; otherwise the best sources are dairy products. Vitamin D is needed for the metabolism of calcium so unless you live in a sunny climate (lucky you!) take a daily supplement.

IODINE: You will require almost double the usual amount of iodine when breast feeding and it can be tricky to get it from the diet alone, unless you really enjoy seaweed! Iodine is very important for the development of your baby’s brain so consider a supplement specific to breastfeeding mums as general seaweed/kelp pills can contain varying amounts of iodine, often too much, which can be harmful to the baby.

The most important thing of all is to ensure you keep yourself healthy and strong to be able to look after your baby. All too often mums put themselves at the back of the pile but maintaining good habits for yourself will lead to a healthy environment for your child. Keep it simple so eating doesn’t become yet another chore on the list and so you have more time to enjoy your new born baby!

Written by Lindsay Holden (MSc.). Lindsay is a nutritionist and personal trainer based in Clapham. You can find out more about her at

Lindsay is also a Personal Trainer and is offering an introductory deal of x2 training sessions for £60! Lindsay has a studio near Clapham North and also does home visits and trains in the parks. Lindsay specialises in weight loss, strength training, post – natal rehab.