Postpartum eats

The first couple of weeks from the hospital were a mix of different emotions: happier than I thought was humanly possible, at the same time feeling a little wonky from the hormones stabilizing, extremely exhausted, and so full of love for my husband and new daughter. There wasn’t a difference between night and day, and I was so focused on learning how to feed Livi, that I didn’t really care about what I was eating as long as I got the calories in somehow. That’s where I was extremely fortunate to have the family bringing us lunches, dinner and groceries, our baby meals from the squadron, because when it was up to me, I ate eggs, whole avocadoes and almond butter with a spoon (for her 2-day checkup, I was eating a jar of almond butter in the car on the way there), sandwiches and LOTS of chocolate. I didn’t want to drink coffee again since I was worried about how it would affect Livi, so I just made up for it in chocolate-covered acai berries and dark chocolate bars. I could just be drinking coffee with how much chocolate I’ve been consuming 😉

Lately, I’ve been really trying to add back in my beloved veggies, smoothies and salads, because I’ve noticed that there have been a handful of days where I’ve eaten enough calorie-wise, but most of my food for that day was white or brown for convenience sake. Hardly any fruits, veggies, or the usual Gina staples.

Jessica was so kind so leave this link when I mentioned that Liv has some witching hour nights- her diaper is clean, her belly is full, she’s burped, and still not a happy camper. It’s a great post –definitely worth a read- but includes some things that new moms should focus on and avoid while they’re breastfeeding.

Note: I’m not a doctor or RD, just sharing an article I thought was interesting. If ya have questions about postpartum nutrition, please hit one up in your area 🙂

From The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen:

Good foods to nourish a post partum mom:

Plenty of purified water
Wild salmon
Organic chicken and vegetable soup with plenty of fresh herbs
Greens!! Fresh salad greens, dark leafy greens, and green smoothies
Sweet vegetables (yams, squash, carrots, beets)
Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Raw almond butter
Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, oats, sweet brown rice, millet, teff)
Organic berries

Sea vegetables
Carminative herbs and spices (cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint, fennel seeds)
Raspberry leaf tea (raspberry leaf along with fennel help to contract the uterus)
Nettle tea enriches and increases milk production
Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, fresh flax or fish oil)

Foods to avoid during the post partum period (may cause upset in newborn baby):

Dairy products
Citrus fruit, especially juices
Heavily spiced foods
Raw garlic and onions
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)

Wheat / Gluten

Refined soy products

Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
Prenatal vitamins (the iron may be irritating to baby)


It’s a great list that anyone could follow, as far as the foods it encourages. I’ve been loading up on the healthy fats since my doc said it would help supply –the good news is that lefty has officially picked up the slack for righty, which lost quite a few ducts from the surgery. Everything else on the list are foods I know well and love but have been slacking on, especially berries, sea veggies, green juices and lentils.

When it suggests foods to avoid, I was a little confused because I’ve been told that anything you consumed while pregnant should be fine while breastfeeding. I’ve been feasting on spicy foods, orange juice, chocolate, and taking my prenatal vitamins this entire time. I guess I need to call and see if the midwives suggest another vitamin option –I’ve been taking the same prenatal for 2 years-ish- and maybe cut back on the chocolate.. just a little, though, because it’s my favorite.

Here are some of my favorite recipes and snacks including ingredients from the above list:

Red and green quinoa salad (using less or no goat cheese)

quinoa lentil salad

Sweet potato and almond butter

sweet potato



Classic green juice

Carrot, beet and bean burgers


salmon with Dijon and honey glaze <—what we’re having for dinner tonight


I’ve heard points of views from both sides: moms that said their eating choices had no affect on their babies, and others that said the second they ate broccoli, their baby knew.

Maybe Liv just wants some more fruits and veggies in her life, like she got in utero 🙂

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  1. Ali @ Peaches and Football on February 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    When I was first born I had colic to the point where I’d just scream for hours and hours at and end until falling asleep in exhaustion. My poor mother tried everything she could think of – thinking it was a food allergy or something – even buying organic raw goat’s milk from a local farmer! She totally gave up chocolate, all dairy, basically all the stuff she normally ate. Then, one trip and adjustment at the chiro and mom said I slept for 7 hours straight and she couldn’t believe it. Had to keep checking to make sure I was still breathing. Ha Ha

    The things mothers do for their kids!! <3

  2. Jennifer (take the day off) on February 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Everyone has different advice on the subject–and every other subject having to do with babies. In a recent breastfeeding class I attended, the nurses and lactation consultants said that there is no need to change your diet if your baby is doing just fine (which it seems like your little one is!). They said to cut back on dairy and broccoli ONLY if there is some trouble. And they echoed that you are fine eating everything you ate during pregnancy because your baby is used to it! They also pointed out that women in India (among other countries) certainly don’t stop eating spicy food while breastfeeding and their babies are just as happy :). It made me feel better, being the spicy food, ice cream and broccoli lover that I am!

  3. Pam on February 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Great post Gina! It’s amazing how much your food intake can affect your baby’s mood, digestion, sleep. I am going to bookmark your post for future reference ;). I love the nourishing meals site too, her meals are right in line with what I enjoy and am able to eat.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, so invaluable!!

  4. Heather Eats Almond Butter on February 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I skipped the coffee and gave up chocolate and cruciferous veggies for several weeks, and I really do believe it helped the little one’s tummy.

    I want your dinner. 🙂

  5. Megan on February 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Yay! Jessica is a great friend of mine 🙂 And I know the link well. Those are just common things that can irritate a little one- From the classic broccoli, citrus and raw garlic to kiddos that seem to have less common issues like gluten intolerance. See, we had severe dietary/nursing struggles so I LIVE by this list (and they came out of the BLUE!). But it’s certainly not like every baby is going to react to all of those things. It’s a great list for those who might have a fussy baby and want to figure out what might be causing it. For me, I’m taking the path of least resistance and starting without all of those irritating foods and adding them in one by one so I can see clearly what might be causing fussiness. That way, I don’t have a struggle and waiting time to get irritants out of my system. It can take FOREVER to be on an elimination diet from scratch, but if you’re already not eating the foods and can introduce them one by one and just watch, it’s MUCH easier. Yes, you’ve heard it doesn’t matter what you eat. You’ve heard that from very lucky mamas with very tolerant babies. Not all babies are like that 🙂

  6. Silvia @ skinny jeans food on February 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    It seems kind of obvious that what you eat will affect breast milk production and the little one’s system is still developing so some things might give her gas right now or be difficult to digest.

    Too bad that intuitive eating seems not to generate this list automatically…. but whatever works, works, right? 😉

  7. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on February 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    There’s definitely a correlation between what you eat and what passes into the milk and then how it effects baby. There are babies that are so sensitive to say, peanuts, that mom has 1 tsp of PB and the baby is an itchy, rashy, crying mess for a week. Then there are other babies who seem to be impervious to whatever passes into the milk. My daughter was, by and large, the latter. Ironically, I have far more food sensitives than she has ever seemed to have. She actually seems to have none…but I ate lots of fruits, veg, protein, healthy fats, because I found the better I ate, the richer and more plentiful my milk was.

    You may want to google Hilary Jacobson’s Mother’s Milk about lactogenic (milk-promoting) foods. Amazing book not even just for nursing, but for overall “food as medicine” food for thought. I know Hilary and she is fabulous.

  8. aWickedRose on February 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    If you find out you might need a new vitamin I really like VitaFusion’s Prenatal gummies. Regular prenatals made me all pukey. I take that and add Floradix to the mix. Thank you SO much for that suggestion…I’ve struggled with low iron for years but the side effects always outweighed the benefits.

    • Fitnessista on February 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Love that stuff! 🙂

  9. Mandy on February 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    While this sounds like a great list of healthy foods, I have to object to the idea that breast feeding mothers should avoid x or y foods for fear of upsetting the newborns stomach. Woman all over the world, with tremendously varied diets, successfully breastfeed babies every day. There is no reason to avoid certain foods unless you think they might be causing undo stress to your babies digestive system.

    • Fitnessista on February 22, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      I think it’s more important to focus on emphasizing certain foods instead of omitting

      • Megan on February 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

        Keep in mind the post is not about omitting these foods completely. It’s being aware they are common irritants. For me, who has had a child with major tummy trouble, I can use this list to start off nursing right. Then I ADD IN each food and watch it’s affect. I’m not cutting those foods out forever, I’m using this as an elimination diet: The meaning off is to find the thing that irritates your child. Not cut all those foods out forever. I think she explains that in her blog post.

        • Mandy on February 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

          I totally agree that if your babe has stomach issues it is important to find out that cause. I guess what I’m saying is that I think a lot of people have the misconception that all women need to avoid certain foods while breastfeeding. More of a generalization than specific to Gina. Sorry if that got lost in my intentions.

      • Mary Anne on February 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        My oldest had a very sensitive stomach – colic -SEVERE! My pediatrician said – everything in moderation. But, after a few weeks of this boy not being happy and crying like someone was stabbing him, I did research….I first eliminated all dairy….he got better (but not great), I then eliminated all wheat, even more improvement, then I watched which green veggies I ate……he was HAPPY! And thriving – he had a protein allergy which he thankfully grew out of at around 1 year ………….Then his brother came along……I was nervous……….that baby had a stomach of steel and I could eat whatever I wanted. Each child is different is the point and finding something that works for your family is important. Good luck, looks like you guys are happy and thriving!

  10. Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon on February 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Ooh I love the idea of topping a sweet potato with almond butter!

    • Mary on February 22, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Me too! Got to try that one…

  11. Ali on February 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Yay fruits and veggies!

  12. Kerry @ Totes My Oats on February 22, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Interesting to read! Although, I agree with you Gina that it should be important to emphasize more foods rather than omitting them.

  13. Emily on February 23, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Good girl trying to have more “Gina” type foods that will help the baby too. I am sure that it will be best for both of you in the long run!

  14. Jessica@Fruit and Veggie Tales on February 23, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hooray! Glad the link was helpful! I didn’t have the link or know of any other websites with info like this when my kids were born so we had lots of trial and error and it was really difficult. We were already free of the things in the don’t list with the exception of gluten when my son was born…..gluten free was definitely the key to our success. It was at that point we figured out that myself as well as my kids have Celiac Disease. Once we were gluten free for a while, things were much better. Though both of my kids have had problems with bananas when they were breastfeeding so we are adding bananas to the don’t list for number three at least for the first few weeks. I found I can eat goat cheese after they are 6months but not before. Trial and error for sure! Hope the witching hour gets better! Have a great day!

  15. Annalisa on February 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I agree with the others that everyone has different advice especially when it comes to babies!

    When it comes to breastmilk, the foods mom eats can affect the baby for up to 36 hours later. Yesterday’s coffee can be influencing today’s behavior so i think elimination can be tricky.

    I found once we got past the newborn phase, it all got easier.

  16. Catalina @ Cake with Love on February 23, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Very interesting post, I found it helpful even if I am not a mom, I plan to get pregnant soon, so it is really good to know in advance all the stuff 🙂

  17. Sara on February 23, 2012 at 8:51 am

    If you check out it says that most foods that give us gas don’t give the baby gas. so if your baby is cranky, most likely over tired or maybe an upset tummy, but more than likely it isn’t caused by food you are eating. from what i have seen, it seems like an old wives tale to make us feel better about our fussy baby. i remember elimiating everything from my diet and he was still fussy and unhappy. then i learned about sleep and found that was the root of all fussiness for him. i know every baby is different so just because that was my situation doesn’t mean it applies to every fussy baby. just my opinion based on what i have read. just hate to see a mom restrict her diet when it may not really be necessary:
    glad bf’ing is still going well for you! makes me sad when it doesn’t work out for some moms.

    • Lesley on February 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

      I love the Kellymom website, run by a lactation consultant, for breastfeeding questions. Information I have read on this website is the same as what I have received from my hospital’s lactation consultants. I too try to eat well but don’t get overly caught up in what is considered “good” vs. “avoid”. If we had food allergies in my family though, I would be more cautious.

      The nutrition section on the Kellymom website states “In fact, research tells us that the quality of a mother’s diet has little influence on her milk….Making women think that they must maintain ‘perfect’ diets in order to have thriving breastfed babies is an unnecessary obstacle to breastfeeding…. Are healthy eating habits recommended for mom? Absolutely! You will be healthier and feel better if you eat well. It is best for anyone to eat a variety of foods, in close to their naturally-occurring state, but this is not necessary for providing quality milk or for maintaining milk supply.”

  18. Chelsa on February 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Hi Gina!

    I love the blog! I know I am a little late commenting on this post, so I hope you still get it (school is so busy at this time of the term)!!

    When my sister was breast feeding she had to avoid certain things for certain children. Her first, she HAD to avoid spicy food of any sort, it really upset the little lady’s tummy. It was incredible how she would know within a few hours what momma had eaten.. Her second, she had to avoid all dairy. He would get really fussy when she had milk, it made him gassy and he would scream for HOURS (no joke). It was really sad, but once she found out what his trigger was, she removed all dairy and he was a happy boy again! So, where I think there are obviously foods that will upset the little one (she’s adorbs btw) I think it will probably take a little time to figure out what it is that upsets her, if anything.

    Another little thing, I don’t know if you and Olivia are having problems with waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake, but my sister (from suggestion from my mom) found that if she made eye contact with the little ones when they woke up to eat and be changed they would wake up completely. Also, if she talked to them..

    I hope this helps. You are doing an incredible job with Livi! She’s so cute and looks so happy! Keep up the great work!

  19. rachael on February 23, 2012 at 11:25 am

    If what you eat doesn’t/your vitamins don’t affect her than I wouldn’t worry about it. With my first I could eat anything while nursing and it didn’t make a difference. This time I am dealing with some major sensitivities and have to avoid dairy, soy, nuts & gluten, and take digestive enzymes. Since I am vegetarian we eat a lot of lentils. 🙂

  20. nann on February 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    You should always continue your prenatle vitamins while breastfeeding unless your Dr or midwife tells you not to. You may need to change brands but you shouldn’t stop taking them.

  21. Anna @ The Guiltless Life on February 24, 2012 at 1:13 am

    The Whole Life Nutrition cookbook is my naturopath’s favourite. She recently put me on the MediClear cleanse, which is a rice protein powder supplemented with cleansing vitamins and minerals that you consume for 3 weeks while following a specific diet. That diet is the Whole Life Nutrition diet and I found their blog to be a wonderful source of recipes and information. So glad you found it!

  22. Li on February 24, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I am absolutely making those burgers this weekend – they look absurdly delicious! And the sweet potato with almond butter – what a wonderful idea! This might just be my new favourite blog post, ever 🙂 x

  23. melissa on February 25, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Hi Gina,
    You said you have been taking your prenatal vitamins for 2 years. I’ve heard of a lot of people taking pre natal vitamins who are not pregant. I’m just curious did you notice any difference/ benefits by taking them when you weren’t pregant- skin, hair, energy etc?

    • Fitnessista on February 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      yep- my hair and nails were the biggest differences. from what i’ve been told, if there’s a chance you could become pregnant, you should be taking a prenatal, but i’d def talk to your doc

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