Nutrition, Postnatal

Nutrition For Postnatal Mothers

By Jo Whitehead

Breastfeeding is a beautiful time between mother and baby – however, as mentioned earlier, can bring about both physical and mental stress on our bodies. 

Did you know?

The nutrition demands of sustaining lactation are greater than those of pregnancy (1). The calories required to sustain a good supply in the first 6 months is equivalent to one extra meal per day (or two – three snacks). 

Eating the right foods is crucial for producing quality milk! 

Certain nutrients (vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin K, iodine and B12) are not adequately produced by the body therefore must be included in our diet. Often the baby’s nutritional needs are prioritised, neglecting those of the mother. It is important (for both the mother and baby) that you are incorporating all macronutrients during your breastfeeding journey. 

  • Complex carbohydrates should be the main source of energy. Eating a low carb diet can increase the chances of experiencing fatigue, dehydration and energy loss. 
  • Protein is crucial for sustaining the energy of the mother. 
  • Fat has been shown to be a critical component of breast milk, providing energy and important nutrients, which are key to the development of the central nervous system in the infant.

Here is a comprehensive list of nutrients and food sources required for yourself and baby throughout your breastfeeding stage. 

  • Folate: green leafy veg, yeast, organ meats, potato, fruit, asparagus.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cod liver oil
  • Iodine: kelp, seafood, organic dairy products
  • Selenium: kelp, seaweed, brazil nuts, seafood, garlic, eggs and organ meats
  • Vitamin E: seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and avocado
  • Vitamin D: cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, tuna, oysters, egg yolks and mushrooms.
  • Vitamin A: organ meats, fatty fish, cod liver oil, goat cheese, butter, eggs, sweet potato, pumpkin and kale
  • Vitamin K: kale, spinach, fermented soy products, broccoli and cabbage.
  • B Vitamins: salmon, leafy greens, organ meats, eggs, beef, oysters, legumes, chicken, Greek yoghurt and nutritional yeast.
  • Zinc: red meat, seafood, yeast, pumpkin seeds, nits, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes
  • Iron: liver, beef, chicken, white beans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, spinach, quinoa

Ask yourself, are you incorporating each of these necessary nutrients into your diet? 

Keep this list handy next time you are planning your meals for the week to ensure you are ticking off foods from each nutrient source! Nourish your body with the fuel, nutrients and energy it needs. 


Wilson, Patty R. et al. Promoting Nutrition in Breastfeeding Women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing , Volume 34 , Issue 1 , 120 – 124.

Antonakou, A., Skenderi, K., Chiou, A., Anastasiou, C., Bakoula, C., & Matalas, A. (2012). Breast milk fat concentration and fatty acid pattern during the first six months in exclusively breastfeeding Greek women. European Journal Of Nutrition, 52(3), 963-973. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0403-8

Fallon, S., & Cowan, T. (2015). The nourishing traditions book of baby & child care( 2nd ed.). Washington: New Trends.

Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine (1st ed.). Sydney: Elsevier.

About the author:

Jo Whitehead 

Clinical Nutritionist

Passionate about teaching mothers nourishing wisdom and sharing an abundance of practical and realistic tips, taking out the stress and confusion when it comes to feeding your family.

IG: jokate_nutrition



Postnatal, Uncategorised

How To Thrive Postpartum

Adjusting to parenthood after the delivery of your newborn is challenging under normal circumstances, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.

Despite the isolation, fear, and anxiety, there are several steps women and couples can take to build resilience during this time.

Here are my top tips for thriving in the post-partum period.

Make the most of online support

As many therapists have temporarily closed their physical doors, online and over-the-phone consultations are the new norm. This is perfect for new mums who are likely to be in their pyjamas, on the couch, under a sleeping baby.

You do not have to suffer in silence. Motherhood can be hard at the best of times. There are a range of specialists─midwives, naturopaths, psychologists, counselors, lactation consultants, the list goes on─who are online and ready to support your needs.

Sleep when bub sleeps

You cannot pour from an empty cup. Nor can you find more energy when your foot is constantly on the peddle. Whenever mums present to me struggling with excessive fatigue present, my first recommendation is to sleep when bub sleeps.

Even if you cannot sleep (hello guilt and nervous energy) lay down and rest─without your phone. Forget the housework, forget the washing, forget the cleaning, forget the cooking, forget the missed messages.

You must look after your own wellbeing to optimise that of your family.

Create a morning routine

Finding time for yourself when you have a newborn can be challenging. Creating a morning routine just for you will set you up for a successful day ahead. Here is a morning routine I hear to be most effective (and achievable) from the mums in my own clinical practice─

  • On waking complete a 5-minute guided meditation or simply focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing (breathe in for 5, hold for 3, breathe out for 5, repeat).
  • Stretch your body, even if it’s for a quick 2-minutes.
  • If you can fit in a shower, great, if not, wash your face with cold water, pat dry with a towel, and take a moment to apply your favourite moisturiser.

Nourish your body to nourish your baby

A substantial amount of time and energy is spent on nourishing your body when pregnant. Though, we often forget about nourishing ourselves in the postpartum period.

Here are my nutritional guidelines for the post-partum period─

  • Eat small amounts regularly to assist in maintaining blood glucose levels for energy production.
  • Consume foods rich in unrefined carbodhyrates such as oats, sourdough, legumes, and all fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates support brain energy and the production of serotonin, our happy hormone. In fact, at rest, the brain consumes more than 50% of dietary carbohydrates so it is important that you are eating enough to sustain energy. [1]
  • Consume foods rich in magnesium, vitamin C, essential fatty acids, and B vitamins to support your nervous system, adrenal function, energy production, and stress management. These include:[2-6]
  • Green leafy vegetables─spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Red and orange vegetables─capsicum/bell peppers, tomato, carrot, sweet potato, squash
  • Fruit─avocado, banana, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, oranges, lemon
  • Nuts and seeds─almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds
  • Legumes─black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • Well-sourced meat, poultry, and salmon.
  • Aim to drink 3.5 litres of water daily. As breastmilk is composed of 87% water, and breastfeeding women lose on average 700 mL/day, it is paramount that you remain hydrated. This includes both water and herbal tea.[7,8]

Enjoy skin-to-skin

Skin-to-skin contact with your baby not only promotes breastfeeding and soothes bub when they’re crying, but also lowers maternal stress, increases the production of oxytocin (our love hormone), and is protective against postpartum depression. [9,10]

Ensuring that you are enjoying skin-to-skin with your newborn will help you thrive in the postpartum period.

Again, if you are having difficulty physically or emotionally with skin-to-skin, reach out to your midwife or lactation consultant to ensure you are getting the support you need.

The most important thing to remember is that, despite the challenges of COVID-19, you are completely capable of growing, birthing, and nourishing your baby. Help is here if you need it.


[1] Bourre, J.M. Effects of Nutrients (In Food) on the Structure and Function of the Nervous System: Update on Dietary Requirements for Brain. Part 2: Macronutrients. The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, 2006. 10(5). PMID: 17066210.

[2 McCabe, D., et al. The Impact of Essential Fatty Acid, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Zinc Supplementation on Stress Levels in Women: A Systematic Review. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reportsa, 2017. 15(2). PMID: 28178022.

[3] Razzaque, M.S., et al. Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough? Nutrients, 2018. 10(12). PMID: 30513803.

[4] Lykkesfeld, J., et al. Vitamin C. Advances in Nutrition, 2014. 5(1). PMID: 24425716.

[5] Swanson, D., et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life. Advances in Nutrition, 2012. 3(1). PMID: 22332096.

[6] Kennedy, D.O., et al. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients, 2016. 8(2). PMID: 26828517.

[7] Bardosono, S., et al. Fluid Intake of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women in Indonesia: A Cross-Sectional Survey with a Seven-Day Fluid Specific Record. Nutrients, 2016. 8(11). doi: 10.3390/nu8110651.

[8] NHMRC. Water. 2014. Retrieved from

[9] Widström, A-M., et al. Skin‐to‐skin contact the first hour after birth, underlying implications and clinical practice. Acta Paediatrica, 2019.108(7). PMID: 30762247.

[10] Scime, N.V., et al. The Effect of Skin-To-Skin Care on Postpartum Depression Among Mothers of Preterm or Low Birthweight Infants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2019. 15. PMID: 31078838.

About the author: Having been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure two years prior to conceiving her first child naturally, Georgia’s passion lies within helping women overcome their hormonal imbalances through the blend of conventional and complementary medicine. For additional support, you can contact Georgia via:

IG: georgiahartmann_naturopath