If there’s one thing new moms most often need, it’s more energy. No matter how little sleep you’re getting, food can help nourish and re-energize you from the inside out and boost your postpartum energy.
Lack of sleep aside, new moms face many things that drain our energy, like our bodies healing (a nutrient-demanding process), and our hormones are out of balance for a few months.
Oh, and there’s the stress. Stress is one of the biggest energy drainers, especially during postpartum.
Proper nutritional nourishment is key for energy
Food is such a fantastic postpartum recovery tool overall and can help improve energy levels for new moms. When we’re not approaching food correctly during this time, it can hinder our recovery process and lessen energy levels.
For starters, it’s common for new moms not to nourish their bodies as needed to support their energy while healing from birth. Undernourishment can happen due to a few different factors.
- Lack of time
- Lack of support
- Lack of resources
- Lack of the right nutrition information
- Pressure to diet and “bounce back”
Also, potential under-eating, blood sugar swings, dehydration, and nutrient insufficiencies can cause a lack of energy, and – thankfully – all be supported and improved through nutrition.
An improved energy level can mean increasing energy overall or supporting more balanced energy without drastic dips that can leave us feeling exhausted.
Five food changes for more postpartum energy
Besides doing whatever possible to get more restorative sleep, you can make some simple – but super powerful – nutrition shifts to improve your energy.
- Eat breakfast within one hour of waking
- Eat regularly throughout the day
- Eat nutrient-dense foods
- Eat small, quality sources of sugar
- Drink mineral-added water
Keep reading for more on each of these postpartum energy-boosting tips below.
1. Eat breakfast when you wake up
Mornings as a new mom can be a whirlwind – change the baby, feed the baby, dress the baby, play with the baby. Usually, grabbing coffee is somewhere in there, too, and if you’re lucky, drinking it while it’s hot.
One of the most impactful shifts you can make to radically improve your energy throughout the whole day is eating at the start of it. This means eating breakfast within the first hour of waking.
Getting fuel into your system ASAP (and before you drink coffee) is crucial. It prevents your blood sugar from taking a nosedive and your stress hormones from ramping up as a result, which will make you feel more tired, but even more anxious and jittery.
A few easy breakfast ideas:
- Scrambled eggs with bacon and roasted potatoes
- Avocado toast topped with eggs
- Oatmeal with strawberries and cinnamon and chicken sausage on the side
- A smoothie made with collagen or whey protein powder, banana, and milk of your choice
- Banana pancakes- blend eggs, banana, and cassava flour and cook in butter or coconut oil
What if you’re waking up a lot during the night?
It can be helpful to grab a snack or two during the night, especially if you’re nursing or pumping or having trouble falling back asleep.
2. Have a balanced meal or snack every few hours
Breaking your fast (there’s a reason the meal is called break-fast) with nourishment and fuel to support healthy blood sugar and happy hormones is important, but continuing that is key for ensuring you have lasting, stable energy throughout the day.
Going too long without eating can send you on a blood sugar roller coaster, directly impacting your energy as well as your mood, brain function, and more.
Eating regularly – think every three hours – is essential for all women but is particularly crucial postpartum because our resilience is low when stressed and depleted.
During postpartum, it’s not uncommon to tend towards low blood sugar, so a great way to support balanced blood sugar levels is by preventing it from happening in the first place.
Make sure meals and snacks contain protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates. Eat one every few hours. Most women do well eating every three hours, but some may need more frequent fuel, especially those in earlier postpartum.
Timing meals more frequently also helps ensure you’re not under-eating throughout because it gives you more opportunities for nourishment.
Postpartum is a nutrient-demanding time, especially when you’re healing and if you’re breastfeeding. Remember, our bodies make energy from the food we eat – we can’t run on fumes.
Read next: 24 Quick and Easy Breastfeeding Snack Ideas
Some easy snack ideas:
- Yogurt with blueberries and honey
- Cottage cheese with pineapple
- Beef jerky with an apple
- Plantain chips with wild smoked oysters and hot sauce
- Dates stuffed with goat cheese
3. Incorporate nutrient-dense powerhouse foods into your diet
Did you know that each pregnancy takes around 10% of a woman’s mineral stores?
Plus, other nutrients commonly get depleted during this time, so replenishing levels in your body can help you not only be more energized but stronger and more resilient overall.
Overall, prioritizing minimally-processed whole foods as best as possible helps you get more nutrients in. Focusing on foods that are easier to digest ensures you can absorb them better (i.e., slow-cooked meats, roasted veggies, soups, stews, etc.).
Some extra nutrient-packed foods to include in your diet postpartum are:
- Pastured/grass-fed meats and poultry (beef, chicken, eggs, butter etc.)
- Grass-fed/organic dairy (raw if you have access)
- Grass-fed beef liver
- Bone broth (these packets make it easy)
- Wild fish and shellfish (sardines, oysters, etc.)
- Sea vegetables (kelp, nori, etc.)
- Colorful fruits of all kinds
- Raw cacao/dark chocolate
- Coconut water
- Root vegetables (potatoes, yams, carrots, etc.)
- Winter squashes (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc.)
4. Include some sugar in your diet
This idea may go against everything you’ve been taught about nutrition, but the truth is, not all sugar is “bad” nor problematic for our health.
Naturally-occurring sugars support our bodies and help to fuel and energize us. They are also rich in micronutrients, including those we need to handle sugar. Mother nature is brilliant.
Food sources of natural sugar to include in your meals and snacks:
- A variety of fruits
- Honey (raw and/or local if you can)
- Coconut sugar
- Pure maple syrup
- Blackstrap molasses
5. Add minerals to your water
You probably know how important it is to drink enough water, but it’s less commonly known that you can overhydrate. This is especially common when you drink plain water and when your body is low in minerals.
One great way to help you hydrate more efficiently is to add minerals to the water you drink, specifically electrolytes. We love these electrolyte packets.
Electrolytes are a class of minerals that conduct electricity when dissolved in water. They are responsible for directing water where it needs to be in the body and help to maintain proper fluid balance.
Electrolyte minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride have a lot of essential functions in the body, especially when it comes to energy production. They also support the adrenal glands, the body’s main stress-handling organ.
Now, you’ll get plenty of electrolytes from different foods, especially those highlighted in this article. By adding some to your water, you can support hydration specifically, which can help a ton with your energy – both in the short-term and long-term!.
A straightforward way to add some electrolytes to water is adding a pinch or two of sea salt – like Himalayan or Celtic salt- to each glass you drink.
You can also include other mineral-rich drinks like bone broth, coconut water, and what’s called the “adrenal cocktail”- a blend of whole-food-based vitamin C, potassium, and sodium. Here’s a post to learn more about this delicious drink and how to make it.
Final thoughts on postpartum energy and nutrition
So, now you have some new information to help combat postpartum energy loss, but how can you implement them at a time when your energy levels are just so low (and you’re non-stop busy).
Prep what you can ahead of time
If you can, cook some freezer meals before the baby arrives to have stuff ready for postpartum. And if you didn’t get that chance, batch cooking certain things like oats, roasted veggies, grilled meats, hard-boiled eggs, and making one-pot/pan meals like soups and chilis can be quick and straightforward.
Check out these postpartum cookbooks we love.
Rely on help from others.
It truly takes a village to support a new mom, and that’s especially true when it comes to nourishment. Ask for assistance with food shopping and cooking from loved ones. Take up offers for food. And when someone asks how they can help, give them ideas for specific meals you like.
Prioritize consistency over perfection.
This isn’t the time to stress about food or go on a diet. It’s the time to eat food that nourishes you physically and emotionally!
Eat while the baby sleeps.
Sure, sleep if you can. But, eat first! Your needs matter, too, and meeting them helps you take care of your little one better.
Other postpartum nutrition resources
Kim Perez is a Functional Nutritionist (FNTP, RWP, RCPC) supporting women through the transition into motherhood and beyond. Her own health journey, especially the struggles she experienced postpartum, have catalyzed her mission to help other mamas regain vibrant health after having babies and feel happy and at home in their bodies. Through her signature method, Kim helps women uncover root causes of depletion and imbalance and learn to fully nourish and strengthen their bodies, especially in the face of the demands of motherhood. Through her 1:1 work, group programs, and online education, she carries out her mission of helping more moms have the energy they need to show up fully in motherhood and feel their best.