There's a reason why they call it labor — delivering a baby is work. After expending a massive amount of energy during delivery, you'll need to gather your strength back. Your food choices though the postpartum period — from delivery until six to eight weeks after giving birth — should include a menu of items that help you to recharge in a healthy way.
Protein helps your blood carry oxygen and is essential to regaining your energy after delivery. Keep in mind that not every protein source is equally as healthy for you. Look for those that are low in fat and sodium. Lean protein sources — such as fish, beans, nuts and seeds — are top options, according to Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
Fruits and Vegetables
You'll also need fruits and vegetables. "Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.," Lucile Packard advises. Include rich sources of iron, such as spinach or watermelon. Extra iron is necessary if you experience significant blood loss during delivery or you've given birth during the past two years. While fresh produce is recommended, you'll also get valuable nutrients from frozen or canned fruits and from 100 percent fruit juices, but avoid products that have added sugar — such as canned fruit cocktail and soda-like fruit punch.
If you're breastfeeding, you'll need to up your daily calcium intake. The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals notes that while nursing you lose 250 to 350 milligrams of calcium per day. To avoid bone loss, include calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat cheeses, yogurt and milk. You can also get extra calcium from tofu and fortified orange juice, according to the University of California San Francisco's Benioff Children's Hospital.
Your post-delivery meal can include a hefty dose of carbohydrates. A whole-grain pasta dish can refuel your body while being easy on your stomach. Such a meal can also include protein or calcium. Have spaghetti with meatballs, for example, or add low-fat shredded cheese to a dish of penne. If you're not ready for a mighty meal following the delivery process, opt for a bowl of oatmeal.