When we think about pregnancy, we can pick out the milestones: first trimester to make sure the baby is developing well and healthy, often full of morning sickness, heartburn, and the intense hormonal mood swings as your body begins the task of growing your baby. Second trimester – mostly smooth sailing, you and baby continue to grow at a steady pace. Your bump gets a little bigger and more pronounced, clothing starts to fit a little funny. By the third trimester, you’re swollen, sore, sweaty, and swearing that this baby will never come out!
But when the baby does eventually arrive, there is another stage of pregnancy and birth that most forget or have no idea exists – the fourth trimester.
The fourth trimester is described as the first 12 weeks your baby is adjusting to life on the outside, and is just as important as the first three trimesters they spent inside! There are so many things for your baby to get used to once they arrive in your world, and there are also many changes for you to adjust to as a new parent!
One of the most important things to make sure you’re doing in the 4th trimester is eating right. Nutrition is imperative to your physical and emotional well being as well as for your baby. If you aren’t properly fueled, the sleepless nights and physical toll that having a baby takes on you will feel a lot worse than if you’ve got the right nutrients on board!
Giving birth is a whole-body sport. A marathon of stamina and strength. As such you need the proper mix of nutrients to help you recover, replenish, and rejuvenate your body post-birth.
Magnesium and Healthy Fats – these two nutrients help to balance your roller coaster of hormones that come with giving birth. Foods like avocado, seeds, nuts, and spinach are rich in both of these nutrients are are primo recovery foods to add to your fourth trimester meals. Balancing these hormones with nutrition during the fourth trimester will allow for a smoother transition for both you and your baby as you adjust to you new life together.
Protein – obviously proteins such as chicken, fish, and red meat come to mind for most when thinking about the building blocks of your muscles, but if you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian protein try tofu, seitan, lentils, and beans. Protein is extremely important in helping to rebuild your muscles, particularly your abdominal and pelvic floor/vaginal muscles, after they’ve done all the hard work of harboring your baby for 9 months and then bringing your baby into this world.
Calcium – Got Milk? Despite the 90’s ads coming to mind when thinking about calcium, ensuring your body has plenty of this nutrient during the fourth trimester is super important. While developing, your baby not only takes over your hormones, but takes a significant amount of your nutrients in order to grow as they’re supposed to. One of those highly utilized nutrients is Calcium, and so to protect your bones and help prevent osteoporosis in the future, supplementing your diet with calcium rich foods such as leafy greens, yogurt, cheese, and yes – milk – will help replenish the calcium your baby needed during pregnancy.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Let’s be real – it’s always important to have a full rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate, but the reality is most fall short on this. However, if you find yourself struggling to eat your greens, reds, purples, and yellows before giving birth, it is crucial you find ways to get those good nutrients onto your plate in the fourth trimester. Sneaking veggies into easy to batch and eat foods such as curry, lasagna, potatoes, or soups will not only allow you to taste the rainbow, but you’ll have an easy on-hand meal ready to go for when you’re hungry!
Not only is the physical and emotional recovery aspect of the fourth trimester incredibly important for your health as a birthing parent, but if you are also a breast/chestfeeding parent, it becomes even more important! Certain foods you eat in the fourth trimester can help produce milk for your baby (proteins such as lean meats, eggs, fish low in mercury, lentils, as well as whole grains and fruits and vegetables), which in turn feed and fuel your baby to do the most important work they’ll do at this stage in life; grow!
If you have questions about fourth trimester nutrition, need ideas for freezer meals, or want to talk about how a postpartum doula may be able to help you adjust to your fourth trimester changes, please reach out to chat with us today. We are excited to work with you!