Many people have issues with food and their diet on a good day, but when you’re pregnant and adjusting to postpartum life with a newborn, that relationship can become more difficult as we struggle to love our bodies even when they seem so foreign to us.
The internet does not help with those feelings. How many blog posts are out there telling pregnant people what not to eat? Obviously, some things should be avoided for health reasons (raw fish, alcohol) but overall your life doesn’t need to change too drastically.
Pregnancy is also not the time to be trying to lose weight. Some people are advised to slim down before getting pregnant if their weight is of concern, but mostly you just want to be healthy. On average, pregnancy requires an extra 500 calories a day. This is just an average, and will vary between people. Regardless of your size, your pregnant and postpartum body requires fuel; not just for your baby, but for you, too. We won’t pretend every pregnant person is eating perfect meals of lean protein and vegetables every day; indulging in cravings is completely acceptable, and mostly unavoidable. If you are dealing with health issues around food, like diabetes or excessive heartburn, this can bring even more stress.
If you’re nursing your baby, you will also need those extra calories to produce enough milk. Many people say they lose weight faster if they breastfeed/chestfeed but this is because it requires more energy to make milk for your baby. It is estimated if you are nursing, you require about 500 more calories a day than if you were not. This includes exclusive pumpers, too.
We can keep saying how many calories your body needs, but no one has time to be keeping track. The best gauge for what you need is to follow your own hunger cues. Are you hungry? Eat. Make the best choices you can.
Food you can eat quickly or one-handed is very convenient: cut up vegetables and fruit, muffins, granola bars, hard-boiled eggs and toast, oatmeal, yogurt; meals that can be eaten one-handed and won’t fall on your nursing baby’s head (although, it will happen!). Always keep water by your side. Your postpartum support can make and bring you food when you’re busy with your newborn.
You may feel like you need to “get your body back” postpartum, but now is not the time, and your body is just fine. Comparing yourself to celebrities with access to resources the average person does not, or even other moms who seem to be back to their pre-pregnancy weight in no time, is not healthy for you. Everyone is different, and everyone has things they don’t like when they look in the mirror.
Feed yourself, feed your baby. Wear loose-fitting t-shirts and leggings for as long as you can, and enjoy this time of having nowhere to be and no one to please except your baby.