Nutrition for Postpartum healing

Whole grain toast topped with avocado and soft boiled egg on the side for nutrition for postpartum healing

We are told so often the importance of nutrition and healthy eating during pregnancy to support the growth and development of our baby. But we rarely hear about the role of nutrition for healing postpartum. It is common for your health to be put on the back burner as soon as your baby arrives. But your health during this postpartum period is as important as ever. Read on to learn more about nutrition for healing postpartum.


Healing During the Postpartum Period

The postpartum period brings a whole new meaning to self-care, healing and recovery. It is easy to forget about the needs of YOU when there is a new baby to care for. It is important to remember that taking purposeful care of yourself is important for both you AND your baby! 

Regardless of whether your delivery was quick, or if labour lasted hours, and whether you had a C-section or vaginal birth, your body needs time to recover. You still grew and nurtured a baby for 9 months, and then stretched and stressed your body during delivery. Not only does healing and recovery from pregnancy and birth involve rest, comfortable and loose fitted clothing, ice packs, and a few heating pads, it also involves a focus on food and nutrition.


Nutrition for Postpartum Healing

The postpartum period is not the time to be eating less food or forgetting about the importance of a balanced diet. It is  a time you might need to eat more to help in the recovery process and to produce milk if you are breastfeeding. Just like recovery from any surgery or injury, there are some key nutrients for healing postpartum. These nutrients include water, fibre, and protein.


    • Providing your body with enough energy (calories) is essential to recovery. Listening to your body and paying attention to hunger cues during this time is important to ensuring your body is getting what it needs.


    • Water is important for the transport of the nutrients you are consuming from the food you eat (1). As well, water is essential for blood flow to damaged tissues to help repair and heal (2).
      • Tip: Try to keep a water bottle with you at all times. You can also try setting an alarm as a reminder, or keeping track of your water intake.


    • Fibre is important for healing postpartum because it helps to keep things moving regularly through the digestive system. This will help with less painful bowel movements, as constipation and hemorrhoids are a common symptom postpartum.
      • Tip: Aim to include foods with higher fibre such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes daily (3).


    • Protein is important in the recovery process because it helps to repair the muscles, tissue, and skin that are damaged during labour (4).
      • Tip: Try including protein-rich foods with each meal and snack. Examples include foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

A balanced diet is important not only to support the healing process postpartum, but also to support your mental health. Pregnancy and the birthing experience are both an amazing feat, and it is a time that you may feel very alone and isolated. Postpartum depression and anxiety are commonly experienced during the postpartum period and focusing on nutrition for healing postpartum can play a role in caring for your mental health as well as your physical health.

Final Notes from The Nest

The focus on nutrition and what to eat does not end at the arrival of your baby. The foods and nutrients you eat are just as important postpartum as they were during pregnancy. This includes, but is not limited to, a focus on water, fibre, and protein intake to help in the recovery and healing process. To learn more about which nutrients you may need to focus on in your healing process, and how to add them into your new and ever-changing lifestyle, talk to our Registered Dietitians to help you navigate nutrition for healing postpartum.

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  1. Thompson, J., Manore, M., & Sheeshka, J. Nutrition: A Functional Approach (3rd ed.). Toronto (ON): Pearson Canada Inc.; 2014. 569p. (chapter 1)
  2. Nelms, M., Sucher, K. P., & Lacey, K. Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology (3rd ed.). Boston (MA): Cengage Learning; 2016. 797p. (chapter 9)
  3. Beluska-Turkan, K., Korczak, R., Hartell, B., Moskal, K., Maukonen, J., Alexander, D. E., Salem, N., Harkness, L., Ayad, W., Szaro, J., Zhang, K., & Siriwardhana, N. (2019). Nutritional gaps and supplements in the first 1000 days. Nutrients, 11(12), 2891.
  4. UnlockFood [Internet]. Canada: Dietitians of Canada; c2021 [updated 2020 June 10; cited 2021 August 6]. Introduction To Protein and high Protein Foods 9about 4 screens0. Avaialable from