Rebecca Duerr, MS, CNS, CLD, APPA-C

After birth, it is important to not only replenish the nutrients lost during pregnancy, labor, and birth, but to also provide an adequate amount of energy for healing. This mindfulness is not only important for recuperating after this pregnancy, but also for future pregnancies.

 

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 

This is an extremely important nutrient for the fetus in utero. Omega 3 is made up of two main components: EPA and DHA. The fetus specifically needs the DHA for brain and neurological development and will take what it needs from the mother’s diet. If there isn’t enough DHA in the diet, it will be taken from other areas of the mother’s body. This could be a cause of “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain” where the mom feels a decrease in memory or the ability to think clearly. Therefore, it is important to not only consume adequate amounts of omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy, but also during postpartum. Great sources of omega 3 fatty acids are cold-water wild fish, smaller fish (sardines, herring, etc.), low mercury containing seafood, seaweed, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Supplements are also an option, but some studies suggest they may not be as absorbable as consuming omega-3’s from food.

 

Iron

 

A large amount of iron is lost during birth, as well as during uterine healing because of bleeding. Iron is a main component in hemoglobin, which is a component in blood and assists in carrying oxygen through the body. Replenishing iron stores can improve your energy level by allowing more oxygen to be transported into the cells. Studies also show low iron is associated with postpartum depression. Foods that are high in iron are liver and other organ meats, red meat, turkey, spinach, legumes, and quinoa. Meat sources are heme-iron, which is more readily absorbed and used in the body, or bio-available. Vegetable sources of iron are non-heme, which is not as bio-available, however you can increase their bioavailability with the addition of Vitamin C. Squeezing some lemon on those veggies increases their absorbability. Another amazing source of heme-iron is supplement capsules made from your placenta.

 

Folate

 

We have all heard about the importance of folic acid during pregnancy. It is needed for proper development and growth of the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. But folic acid is not what most pregnant women and new mom’s need.  Rather, they need to be consuming folate.  Folic acid is a synthetic form of folateand can be difficult or even impossible for many bodies to use. Folate, which is a B-vitamin (B9), becomes methylated in the body, and is needed in a number of other important chemicals or hormones in the body (phospholipids, glutathione, myelin, coenzyme q10, carnitine, and creatine).  Many people are actually incapable of utilizing folic acid in their bodies, which leads to a decrease in these hormones and chemicals, as well as major health issues.  In the long run, it is better to avoid foods that have been fortified with folic acid.  Instead, get your folate from foods such as legumes, pasture raised eggs, leafy greens, and broccoli. If supplementation is needed, look for methylated folate or methyl-folate, rather than folic acid.

 

Zinc

 

This essential mineral has become a very prevalent deficiency in men and women in the United States. There are two reasons for this. Over farming, pesticides, and herbicides have depleted many minerals from farmed soil. Depletion in the soil leads to foods that are lower in zinc, and therefore people who are also deficient. The lack of seafood in our diet also influenced the consumption of zinc and increases risk for deficiency. The second reason for this common deficiency is that the general population’s gut health has been dramatically compromised from eating foods that cause inflammation, damaging the lining of the intestinal walls, and causing leaky gut. This damage makes the absorption of nutrients, including zinc, difficult to impossible. Zinc is easily influenced by what you take it with which can affect absorption, for instance magnesium, iron, calcium, coffee, etc. Zinc is needed for immune development, brain development, skin health, as well as countless enzyme reactions. There are three ways to improve zinc absorption after pregnancy. You can improve your gut health with the guidance of a Functional Nutritionist. You can increase your intake of dietary zinc through foods, such as seafood, whole grains, nuts, beans, and lean meats. Finally, you can take a zinc supplement, but keep in mind that taking it with other supplements can influence zinc absorption.

 

 

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.