What New Parents Should Eat Beyond the 4th Trimester
By Sara Cammorata, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Congratulations! You are finally coming out of the fog of the fourth trimester and you and your baby are really establishing routines and getting to know each other. It feels like you are starting to get the hang of this thing, right?
So now that you are out of survival mode of those first few months – eating whatever family and friends brought you or the leftovers from takeout you ordered between diaper changes – it’s time to start thinking about how to nourish yourself properly! As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I am going to break down what to eat after the fourth trimester and into your baby’s first year of life (and beyond!) so you can be ready for the ride ahead.
In order to be your best self for your baby and your family, it’s important to take care of YOU and fill your cup first. This includes making nourishment a priority. There are three very important words to keep in mind when thinking about food and eating. They are BALANCE, VARIETY, & MODERATION.
Getting a balance of all five food groups is vital to proper nourishment. The five food groups include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products.
Eat the Rainbow:
Fruits and Vegetables:
As far as fruits and vegetables go – aim for eating at least 3-5 servings per day and filling half your plate with these nutrient-dense foods. Eating produce that is in season can help you to add variety to your meals. Including many different types of foods ensures you are getting all the nutrients you need.
Whole grains contain more nutrients and fiber than their ultra-processed counterparts, refined grains. Look to add items like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and 100% whole wheat pasta into your meals. Whole grains provide the body with the energy it needs to tackle those long days and nights ahead.
Protein is essential for muscle building and recovery, hormone health, and skin healing just to name a few examples! Another great benefit of protein is that it is very satiating – meaning when someone eats protein-rich foods, they feel satisfied and fuller for longer. Protein also helps to balance blood sugar in the body. It is important to know that lactating parents and pregnant people need more protein than the average person. Aim to eat at least 3-4 ounces of protein at every meal and snack. Eating a mix of both animal and plant-based proteins is a great way to include more variety in your diet. Some examples of both animal and plant-based proteins include chicken, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, and eggs.
Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, but if you are someone who does not or cannot eat dairy- not to fear! There are plenty of ways to get adequate calcium in your diet beyond simply eating dairy products. You can try bok choy, collard greens, or soybeans instead. Try sprinkling chia seeds or sliced almonds into your smoothie to get an extra boost of calcium! You can also eat calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Getting adequate calcium through your diet may have a positive effect on breastmilk supply.
Focus on Foods First Before Supplements
There are many supplements on the market, however, it is best to focus on a food-first approach before adding in a ton of supplements to your diet. If you are concerned you might be deficient in a particular nutrient, speak with your physician and/or registered dietitian before adding any new supplements to your routine.
Hydration is Key (Whether You Bodyfeed or Not!)
Staying hydrated is important during all stages of life, however, lactating parents have an even greater need for hydration. It is recommended to drink roughly 125 fl oz per day. What counts toward your hydration? Water, non-caffeinated teas, smoothies, coconut water, soups and broths, and even high-water content fruit and veggies (i.e. cucumber, watermelon, celery) can be considered sources of hydration. Need some strategies to encourage water intake? Try keeping a water bottle with you at all times, flavor your water with lemons, mint, cucumber, or other fruits, and set timers or reminders on your phone to go off periodically.
All Meals, All in Moderation
Don’t forget the MODERATION piece of the puzzle! One meal, one food, and one day will not make or break your health status. So, if you are craving that chocolate ice cream after dinner go ahead and honor that. The less restrictive mindset you have, the more balance and ease you will invite into your body and life.
Now that you know what to eat after the fourth trimester it will be that much easier to nourish yourself all year. In that first year as a new parent, you will have lots of conflicting priorities so keep in mind BALANCE, VARIETY, & MODERATION and you can’t go wrong! If you need more support, don’t hesitate to consult a dietitian/nutritionist to help build a meal plan tailored specifically to the needs of you and your growing family.
Sara Cammorata is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) based in Los Angeles, CA. Sara specializes in pre and postnatal nutrition, including management of diabetes and gestational diabetes. Sara’s philosophy is to focus on whole health and personalized nutrition. Sara’s number one goal for her clients is that they feel confident in their food choices and healthy and happy in their bodies. Sessions with Sara can be booked on the Boober platform.