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    Postpartum Nutrition

    After giving birth, it is a great time to re-evaluate your nutritional needs. An adequate diet is especially important to help ensure your health and to supply you with the energy necessary to care for your new baby. Remember to drink plenty of liquids. Drink to satisfy your thirst, but be sure to drink six to 10 glasses of liquid everyday. Below are guides to food groups and serving sizes for postpartum mothers.

    The Breastfeeding Mother

    If you are breastfeeding you will need to eat an additional 500 calories a day. You may safely lose about four to five pounds each month without reducing your milk supply as long as you eat at least the minimum number of recommended servings. Weight loss should be gradual.

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    Food Suggestions and Serving Sizes

    Protein-Rich Foods
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 7 if breastfeeding; 5 if bottle-feeding
    One Serving Equals:

    • 1 oz. fish or other seafood

    • 1 oz. beef, chicken, turkey or pork

    • 1 cooked egg

    • 1/2 cup cooked dry beans (pinto, soy, lentils, kidney)

    • 3 oz. tofu

    • 1/4 cup peanuts, 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, 1/3 cup other nuts

    • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

    Milk Products (calcium-rich)
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 3 if breastfeeding; 3 if bottle-feeding (2 for mothers over 25)
    One Serving Equals:
    • 8 oz. fluid milk or yogurt

    • 1-1/2 oz. hard cheeses (jack, cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss)

    • 1-1/2 cups ice cream or frozen yogurt

    • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

    • 4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

    • 1 cup pudding or custard (made of milk)

    • 2 cups cottage cheese

    Breads, Cereals and Grains (at least four as whole grain)
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 8 if breastfeeding; 7 if bottle-feeding (6 for mothers over 25)
    One serving equals:
    • 1 slice bread or dinner roll

    • 1/2 English muffin, 1/2 bagel

    • 1/2 small pita or 1/2 hamburger bun

    • 1/2 cup pasta, noodles, or rice

    • 1/2 cup cooked cereal

    • 1 muffin, whole wheat

    • 1 small tortilla, corn or wheat

    • 3/4 cup cold cereal, bran flakes, Cheerios

    • 6 Saltine-type crackers or 12 wheat crackers

    • 3 cups popcorn

    • 1/2 cup granola

    • 1 small pancake or waffle

    • 2 breadsticks (4”x 1/2”)
    Vitamin C-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 1 for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
    One serving equals:
    • 6 oz. orange, tomato, grapefruit juice or vegetable juice cocktail

    • 1 fresh orange, kiwi, mango, guava or lemon, 2 tangerines, 1/2 cup papaya

    • 1/2 cup strawberries or cantaloupe

    • 1/2 cup broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, snow peas or bell peppers

    • 2 medium tomatoes, 1/2 cup tomato puree or 1/2 cup cooked cabbage

    • 1/2 medium grapefruit

    • 2 Tbsp. hot chili peppers
    Vitamin A-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 1 for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
    One serving equals:
    • 1 small carrot

    • 6 oz. apricot nectar or vegetable juice

    • 3 fresh apricots

    • 1/2 cup cooked greens, (mustard, kale, spinach, bok choy, chard, collards)

    • 1/4 mango or cantaloupe

    • 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, pumpkin, yams, winter squash, 2 medium tomatoes

    • 1 cup fresh spinach or parsley

    • 2 Tbsp. hot chili peppers
    Other Fruits and Vegetables (emphasize vegetable sources)
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 3 for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
    One serving equals:
    • 6 oz. fruit juice

    • 1/2 cup sliced: apple, banana, berries, cucumber, grapes, peaches, pears, corn,peas, potatoes, pineapple, green beans, zucchini, watermelon, mushrooms, cherries, onions

    • 2 medium plums, 1/2 cup applesauce

    • 1 medium nectarine

    • 1/4 cup raisins

    • 1 cup lettuce
    Unsaturated Fats
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: 3 for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
    One serving equals:
    • 1 tsp. margarine, mayonnaise, or vegetable oil (canola, safflower, corn, olive)

    • 1 tsp. salad dressing (mayonnaise-based)

    • 1 Tbsp. salad dressing (oil-based)

    • 1/8 avocado

    • 10 small or 5 large olives
    Saturated Fat
    Recommended Minimum Daily Servings: Use sparingly
    One serving equals:
    • 1 Tbsp. butter

    • slice bacon

    • Tbsp. sour cream

    • Tbsp. cream cheese

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    Vitamins and Minerals in Your Diet

    Postpartum and breastfeeding moms are encouraged to obtain their nutrition from food, not supplements. If you are eating a balanced diet and obtaining the recommended servings from the “Daily Food Guide”, you probably will not need to continue with prenatal vitamins. However, you may continue to take your prenatal vitamins after birth up until six weeks postpartum. Check with your health care provider for recommendations.

    If you are anemic, gave birth to twins, or have had any other medical problems, consult your health care provider regarding the need for nutritional supplements.

    Mothers who are vegetarians and avoid all animal products will need to take vitamin supplements.

    If you don't eat milk, cheese, or other calcium-rich dairy foods, consult your health care provider or a dietitian regarding a calcium supplement.

    If you had a significant blood loss as a result of delivery, you may feel especially weak and tired, short of breath, and you may have a poor appetite. The loss of blood has depleted the iron in your body. Here are some suggestions to help replenish your iron stores:

    • Eat foods high in iron to assist your body in forming new red blood cells. Iron comes in two dietary forms: Iron contained in animal tissue (meat, fish, poultry) and iron in vegetable products. It is important to know that the kind of iron in meat, poultry and fish is better absorbed by your body and therefore is the better choice of iron.

    • Vitamin C will enhance iron absorption, so consume juices or foods high in vitamin C at the same time as you consume foods high in iron.

    • Cook with cast iron pots to add more iron to your diet.

    • Avoid drinking black tea. Tanic acid, which is naturally found in black tea, will decrease iron absorption.

    • You may need an iron supplement; check with your health care provider.
    Iron-Rich Foods
    The following foods are high in iron. 15 mg of iron per day are recommended.

    Protein Foods
    FoodServing SizeIron
    Oysters, cooked3 oz.7.0
    Tofu, raw1/2 c.6.7
    Beef liver, cooked2 oz.5.0
    Beef, lean, cooked3 oz.3.1
    Hamburger, cooked3 oz.2.5
    Dry beans1/2 c.2.0
    Lentils1/2 c.1.5
    Chicken, without skin, dark meat3 oz.1.2
    Note: milk products, white meat and poultry, high fat red meats, eggs and nuts are significantly low in iron - 1 mg or less per serving

    Breads, Cereals, and Grains
    FoodServing SizeIron
    Product 19, Total3/4 c.Up to 18
    Cream of Wheat, cooked3/4 c.8.0
    Oatmeal, fortified, cooked3/4 c.6.5
    Bran cereal3/4 c.4.5 - 8.0
    Note: rice, noodles and whole wheat bread have about 1 mg of iron per serving

    Fruits and Vegetables
    FoodServing SizeIron
    Potato, with skin1 med.2.8
    Jerusalem artichokes1/2 c.2.6
    Watermelon4" x 8" wedge2.1
    Figs4 large2.1
    Spinach, cooked1/2 c.2.0
    Chard, cooked1/2 c.2.0
    Apricots, dried10 halves1.7
    Peas, cooked1/2 c.1.4
    Raisins1/4 c.1.4
    Prunes, dried51.3

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