Motherhood is an exciting and joyous experience for many women, but it comes with its own share of challenges. A new mother will have more specific requirements in the first two years after delivery, wherein her body will be working extra hard to meet the demands of lactation, sleepless nights and adapting to a new routine. Her body will also need to recover from delivering the baby, especially if the delivery was difficult.
On paper, the golden rules for new mothers seem simple enough: adequate rest, a daily nutrient-rich and balanced diet, and regular exercise. In reality, however, the new mother may be trying to get used to night feedings, lack of sleep and more. The golden rules, therefore, may seem like tall orders sometimes! Fortunately, supplementation may help support her efforts to obtain enough nutrients to recover from delivery, produce enough breast milk and stay healthy for both herself and her baby.
Among the supplements that can help post-natal recovery are:
Also known as folate, folic acid is important not just during pregnancy (to aid in the development of the baby’s nervous system), but also after child birth as it is an important nutrient for the circulatory system (which encompasses blood and the heart).
Vitamin D is a key requirement for the appropriate absorption of calcium. This vitamin will be essential for both mother and baby (via breastfeeding).
Calcium is one of the key nutrients for the development and growth of the baby’s musculoskeletal system. It is also a key nutrient for the mother, as it can help replenish the loss of calcium during pregnancy and labour.
Vitamin C helps boost immunity and aids the absorption of iron.
The heavy loss of blood during labour can deplete the iron stores. Proper iron supplementation can prevent anaemia and exhaustion.
Also known as cyanocobalamin, it is a key building block for blood. It can help overcome exhaustion.
Fatty acids (eg, DHA and EPA)
More commonly known as omega fatty acids, they play a very vital role in the development of the brain and eyes of the newborn. They are easily transported via breast milk. Fatty acids can also be very useful to the mother as they can help reduce pain and inflammation.
The array of B-vitamins is essential for overall good health by maintaining a proper balance between energy and mood swings. They enable our body to recuperate from nutrient loss and are potent stress busters.
Protein shakes and other supplements can help in the post-pregnancy healing process by enabling the growth and development of new tissue and muscles.
In addition to diet and supplementation, it is also very important to consume plenty of fluids, which can help overcome dehydration caused by labor and lactation. An adequate intake of fluids can also help keep constipation at bay. Most women dread the effects of passing motion after delivery. Constipation can add to their discomfort.
These simple measures can go a long way in improving the health and well-being of mothers after child-birth.
Important note: Any medication and/or supplementation taken should be with the proper consent of your healthcare provider. Also, you should strive to follow the golden rules – the supplements help to fill any gaps in your efforts, not to replace your healthy lifestyle altogether!
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SF Gate. Available at www.healthyeating.sfgate.com
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