Counseling Postpartum Patients About Diet and Exercise 2023(Updated)

Following a healthy lifestyle is the best way to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Yes, following a proper diet and regular exercise routine can minimize many health issues in new mothers. Counseling postpartum patients about …

Counseling Postpartum Patients About Diet and Exercise

Following a healthy lifestyle is the best way to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. Yes, following a proper diet and regular exercise routine can minimize many health issues in new mothers.

Counseling postpartum patients about diet and exercise can be a hectic task.

They need appropriate nutrition, and their exercise routine shouldn’t be complicated. Hence, while suggesting a diet and workout regime for the new mamas, one should be cautious about every detail.

This article will discuss some important factors we need to consider while dealing with a postpartum patient. So, let’s get into this part, shall we?


Counseling Postpartum Patients About Diet and Exercise – All You Need to Know

According to studies, 1 in 5 women suffers from mental disorders after childbirth.

They go through depression, anxiety, and mental breakdowns during and after pregnancy. Therefore, nurturing them with care is needed.

What’s the Right Time to Schedule the First Postpartum Visit?

Typically, the first postpartum visit is scheduled for four to six weeks after childbirth for women who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and a vaginal delivery.

Women who have had a cesarean delivery or complicated births may be seen earlier. This is a time to review and discuss postpartum diet, nutrition, and exercise.

Dietary Recommendations for Postpartum Patients

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans form the basis for nutrition counseling for postpartum women. A moderately active, non-pregnant, non-lactating woman can be advised to consume 1,800–2,000 Kcal/day.

An additional 500 Kcal/day is recommended for breastfeeding women (e.g., 2,300–2,500 Kcal/day).

Even higher intake may be recommended for lactating women who are underweight, women who exercise vigorously, or women who are breastfeeding more than one infant.

Many women consume less than the recommended calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, and folate. If you suspect a nutritional deficit, you may want to suggest that the woman restart or continue taking prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements.

Here is a list of food items that should be added to a postpartum patient’s diet.

However, nutritional needs can vary from person to person, so make your plans according to that.

Eat Proteins

When you’re eating, one-quarter of your plate should be protein. Maintaining a proper protein intake will make it easier for your body to recover from childbirth.

Also, your physique will get stronger with a protein-enriched diet; there’s no doubt about that.

Try to eat food items such as milk, yogurt, fish, meats, and beans. If you are underweight or became a mother before 18, you should increase your protein intake as soon as possible.

Drink Plenty of Fluid

After giving birth, your body needs fluids to gain strength, especially if you decide to breastfeed. You should drink at least 6-8 glasses of liquid daily to stay healthy.

To keep your body hydrated, drink soups, juices, smoothies, or other healthy liquids, including water. This way, you’ll never face any issues with lactation, and getting better will be easier.

Get Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates allow you to maintain a lean body after giving birth. It also improves your digestion and elevates your energy levels to a great extent.

Hence, add whole grain foods such as oats and brown rice; starchy and non-starchy vegetables in your daily meal to ensure you’re getting enough complex carbohydrates.

Eat Healthy Fats

Fatty acids help your body absorb nutrients without any trouble. Thus, you should eat healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds, fatty fish, avocado, and coconut.

Additionally, these fatty foods will also support your brain function. They will improve hormonal balance, which is crucial during your postpartum period.

Add B Vitamins to Your Diet

You should include b-6, b-12, and folate in your daily meals as they’re important for your bodily functions.

These compounds give you an energy boost and enhance your metabolism. Hence, losing pregnancy weight will be easier.

Also, B vitamins greatly impact breast milk production and concentration. Therefore, you should eat leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, red meat, and eggs.

But if you’re on a vegetarian diet, you can take supplements to fulfill your requirements.

Ensure Proper Choline Intake

Choline is one of the most important nutrients for breastfeeding mothers. It helps in the brain development of your nursing baby, so you need to ensure you’re getting enough of this compound.

You can eat eggs, liver, legumes, quinoa, pinto beans, and nuts to get this compound into your body.

Eliminate the chances of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is quite common in new mothers and can lead to postpartum depression. Therefore, you should take care of your iron intake religiously.

Your body will need an excessive supply of iron once you start menstruating and breastfeeding. And if you’ve lost blood during childbirth, you’re more likely to suffer from iron deficiency.

To solve this issue, you need to include foods such as beef, liver, dark meats, lamb, shrimp, spinach, lentils, and whole grains in your diet. You can also get iron supplements if you think you’re not getting enough of these nutrients from the foods you consume.

Eat Calcium Enriched Food

Calcium is the most needed nutrient for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. When the baby in the womb needs calcium, the mother will draw it from her bones. And so, if the mother isn’t getting enough calcium, soon she’ll suffer from bone diseases like osteopenia or osteoporosis.

As a result, calcium-enriched food should be included in pregnant and new mothers’ diets. You can get calcium from dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt and foods such as seeds and legumes.

Food Items You Need to Avoid During Postpartum Period

Here’s a list of foods you need to avoid when you’re going through postpartum.

  • Any drink or food that contains alcohol should be avoided. This substance can harm your baby’s development and has a negative impact on breast milk production.
  • You shouldn’t take any caffeine content as well.
  • Don’t eat fish like swordfish or sharks, as they can carry mercury. It can hamper your child’s brain growth.

Guidelines for Postpartum Weight Loss and Exercise

Most postpartum women want to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. The goal should be gradual weight loss.

With a healthy diet and exercise, much of the weight gained during pregnancy will be shed naturally during the first year after delivery.

For all but women who had high or very high pre-pregnancy weights, the recommended weight loss after the first month postpartum is a maximum of 4.5 lbs/month.

The minimum caloric intake is 1,800 Kcal/day, which may need to be increased for considerations such as breastfeeding, nutritional status, and activity level.

Women who don’t consume enough calories may experience more postpartum fatigue and a negative mood impact, especially if breastfeeding.

Post-pregnancy dieting may lead to a significant decrease in bone mineral density.

Often, instructing lactating women to focus on nutritional foods, exercise, and eating to satisfy their hunger will result in the desired slow pattern of weight loss.

But if you combine a healthy diet with a proper workout, you can return to your pre-pregnancy weight. It won’t happen overnight, so you have to be patient with the process.

Postpartum Exercise Recommendation

After your childbirth, following a strict diet and doing intense workouts can injure you. Hence, you should start with lightweight exercises to be safe.

There’re many ways to be active rather than doing heavyweight exercises. You can try the workouts suggested below to lose your pregnancy weight.

Walking

Going on walks is one of the best cardio exercises out there. You can walk daily for 20-30 minutes to start the routine, and you can even do this twice daily.

Moreover, you can carry your baby in a stroller and take a morning walk with your friends. This is one of the most effective methods to kickstart your postpartum weight loss journey.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises can help reduce the incidence of stress incontinence, but proper technique is important.

Patients should be instructed to contract their pelvic muscles for 10 seconds and then relax them for 10 seconds for 15 minutes, four times per day.

Yoga

Postpartum yoga poses are not that intense; thus, anyone can follow. It also helps you to get calm and increases your mental illness, which is the most amazing thing.

Yoga poses like legs-up-the-wall, shavasana, and cat-cow poses can help you to enhance your core strength and flexibility.

You can also take yoga classes to learn more poses that will participate in healthy weight loss management. 

When Should Postpartum Women Start Exercising?

The appropriate exercise level will depend on each woman’s medical history, obstetrical course, level of fitness, and postpartum recovery. Some women may be able to start exercising within days of delivery; others may need to wait four to six weeks.

Like weight loss, a gradual approach is recommended for the resumption of exercise. This will allow the woman to gauge the effects and identify a suitable level of intensity.

Exercise Recommendations Cesarean Delivery

Recommendations for exercise after cesarean delivery depend upon obstetric and medical history and rate of physical recovery.

In most cases, exercises to restore abdominal muscle tone can start as soon as abdominal soreness diminishes.

Some experts suggest that straight and diagonal curl-ups can be done safely within the first few days after cesarean birth and help bring the rectus muscles back together.

Bottom Line

So, here’s a proper guideline for counseling postpartum patients about diet and exercise. However, when counseling a new mother, you should consider their medical and personal history to help her through the experience.

The most important thing is that the postpartum patient should always follow a comfortable diet and exercise regime. Otherwise, there’ll be more health issues, and nobody wants that.

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Funded by an unrestricted educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare