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  • Your Postpartum Diet Plan: What To Eat To Combat Constipation, Fatigue, And Swelling

    Eating the right kind of food can quicken your healing and recovery.
    by Grace Bautista .
Your Postpartum Diet Plan: What To Eat To Combat Constipation, Fatigue, And Swelling
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Shift Drive
  • Carrying and growing a baby for nine months takes a lot from a woman’s body, as do labor, childbirth, and breastfeeding. These processes leave a new mom with damaged tissues, lost blood, and depleted energy reserves.

    What to eat after childbirth

    The first few weeks postpartum are a crucial time for the mother to rest, recuperate, and help the body heal with proper nutrition. Food plays a very important role in a mother’s postpartum recovery — eating the right diet can help cells and tissues heal and regenerate, which provides energy for infant care and breastfeeding, plus keeps the mind healthy as well. Proper nutrition also alleviates some of the most common postpartum concerns, including constipation, fatigue, and swelling.

    How to deal with constipation after giving birth

    Many new moms experience being constipated the first few days postpartum. Most of the time, it has something to do with the fear of their cesarean section (CS) incision or episiotomy bursting open, which makes going to the bathroom a struggle.

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    The best thing to get our bowels moving is to eat balanced meals with a lot of fiber-rich food. Here are some examples that can help with digestion:

    • Whole grain - cereals, whole wheat bread, and brown rice
    • Legumes - sitaw, mongo, green peas, and garbanzos
    • Fresh fruits - papaya, oranges, cantaloupe (melon), kiwi, and apples
    • Dried fruits - raisins, prunes, dates, and apricot 
    • Green leafy vegetables - pechay, malunggay, bokchoy, kangkong, camote tops, saluyot, and ampalaya tops
    • Probiotics - yogurt, kimchi, and pickled vegetables
    • Water - drink 8 to 10 glasses of water to help flush out your bowels
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    Food to avoid after delivery

    Stay away from white rice and white bread, chocolates, and bananas as they have low fiber content and tend to slow down digestion.

    How to fight fatigue

    It’s normal to feel tired after giving birth. The sleepless nights that follow along with 'round-the-clock feeding will also drain your energy.

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    If you still feel weak and fatigued many months after giving birth, you are not alone. While it's easy to dismiss it due to lack of sleep and all the work that comes with being a mom, undernutrition and dehydration may also be factors.

    Here's how to provide your body with much-needed energy daily. First, eat all the food mentioned above — a balanced plate for every meal with whole grain, vegetables of every color, fruit, and lean meat for protein.

    For energy, focus on complex carbohydrates and protein. The National Nutrition Council of the Philippines recommends the following:

    • Complex carbohydrates - brown rice, corn, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal
    • Protein - fish, shellfish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and dried beans or nuts

    Note that if you are breastfeeding, pack an additional 500 calories per day into your normal food intake.

    WhatToExpect suggests eating five or six mini-meals to even out your supply of energy throughout the day. Here are some simple, nutritious snacks to keep on hand:

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    • Whole wheat peanut butter sandwich
    • Fresh fruit - banana, apple, orange or pear and local fruits in season are most accessible and affordable
    • Boiled egg - boil several eggs at once and refrigerate for easy snacking throughout the week
    • Trail mix
    • Pre-soaked chia seeds added to water, milk, or fruit juice 

    Remember to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day as dehydration can also make you feel exhausted. Confirm with your doctor if you can continue taking your prenatal vitamins to help the body replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. 

    What to avoid: Sugary snacks, fast food, chips, and sugary drinks — these burn quickly and give you empty calories.

    How to avoid swelling after pregnancy

    Edema or swelling of the feet, legs, ankles, or face happens during pregnancy because a woman’s body produces 50% more blood and bodily fluids to support the baby, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The swelling may continue for a couple of weeks after childbirth, but this should naturally resolve by itself.

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    If it bothers you, there are certain kinds of food that you can eat to help the swelling subside faster, including:

    Potassium-rich food - bananas, avocados, sweet potato, peanut butter, and malunggay
    Antioxidant-rich food - malunggay, carrots, eggplant, garlic, tomato, spinach, mangosteen, and durian

    What to avoid: Salt, processed food, and chips. These usually contain a lot of salt, and too much salt in your body makes you retain water.

    Medicalnewstoday also suggests limiting caffeine intake because it increases the risk of dehydration, to which the body may respond by retaining fluids.

    Apart from proper postpartum diet, it would also be good to move about, stretch, and do some easy exercises (once you've secured your doctor's permission) for a healthier postpartum body and quicker recovery. Go out and enjoy the sun for a few minutes, if possible. All these activities will help you feel more energized, get the bowels moving, and reduce postpartum swelling.

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    If moving, walking or even just going to the toilet seem difficult, try a belly band to help support your back and core muscles, as well as your tummy area, and hold your CS wound in place.

    How to take care of your body after baby? Click here for expert tips.

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