The fourth trimester is one of the most challenging times for mothers. It spans the three-month period after giving birth, and it’s a time of difficulty, stress, and joy. You’re adapting to a new baby, a new life, and all the changes they bring.
I don’t expect to have a lot of free time on my hands when that period arrives, so I’ve already been preparing. I don’t want to rely on fast food and quick fixes—I’m going to need as many nutrients as I can get.
In anticipation, I’ve been spending a lot of time prepping meals—delicious, nutritious meals that can be frozen for later.
If you’re in the same boat as me, I suggest you do the same.
You know what it’s like when you’re stressed and tired. You don’t have the time or will to prep and cook, so you just grab whatever you can, whether that be deli meats and bread, candy and chips, or fast food. It’s okay for a one-off, but I have some news for you, that tiredness is not going anywhere! Those “one-off” feasts can become regular occurrences, and that can take a toll on your health.
Your friends and family members will also do their best to help, but that help often consists of bringing bags of chips, sandwiches, and candy, along with the usual words of encouragement:
“If there was ever a time to binge on fast food, this is it!”
“You’ve just had a baby, you need to keep your energy up!”
“You deserve a treat or two!”
Tell them that if they want to help, they should stick with healthier options. That way, when you’re not picking through your previously prepped meals, you can enjoy whatever homemade goodies your friends bring!
Why Diet is Key During the Fourth Trimester
Your body undergoes a number of changes postpartum. Your hormones change and you undergo major physical alterations. You also have a new baby to deal with, so you may struggle with stress, fatigue, and sleep deprivation.
A proper diet can support your health during this time.
Take a look below to read about the ways your diet can help. You should also pick up a copy of The Fourth Trimester[PA1] and check out my free Post-Partum Meal Guide. The former will tell you why diet and health are key; the latter is full of ideas on what to eat!
Pregnancy depletes nutrients
Pregnancy takes its toll on your body. Trust me…I speak from a place of experience.
It depletes key nutrients, and if those nutrients are not reintroduced postpartum, you may suffer from a host of deficiencies.
The most common deficiencies include iodine, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. By eating a balanced diet (and getting a little sunlight) you can supply your body with all these and more.
Your hormones change
Hormonal imbalances have been linked to many postpartum disorders. The body undergoes rapid and severe hormonal changes during pregnancy, and this can continue after you give birth.
A diet rich in healthy fats, fiber, and key nutrients could support the body through these times and keep those hormones in check.
You suffer from tissue damage
Eating plenty of protein helps to support tissue repair and growth, which is key considering you’ll experience a lot of trauma during birth. Whether you have a natural birth or caesarian, there will be irritations to soothe and wounds to help. Lean proteins combined with essential nutrients and healthy fats play a big role in the healing process.
You need healthy breastmilk
The food you eat influences the quality of your breast milk, so think about your little one as well as yourself. One review from 2021 found that “adequate maternal nutrition” was important both for the mother and for the infant, providing the latter with “adequate amounts and quality of nutrients”.
It promotes mood and well-being
There is a close link between diet and mood—you are what you eat, as the saying goes.
Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin D, and an array of other nutrients have shown positive effects in treating everything from depression to anxiety and sleep disorders. Your mood will fluctuate and your sleep patterns will be disrupted, so you need all the help you can get.
Eating for You and Your Baby
As you can see, eating properly during the fourth trimester is essential. Now you know why I am devoting so much time to meal prep!
Remember to grab a copy of my free ebook to help you plot your diet as you enter the fourth trimester.
Micronutrient deficiencies in pregnancy worldwide: health effects and prevention. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927329/
THE NEUROENDOCRINOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6992410/
Dietary Patterns of Breastfeeding Mothers and Human Milk Composition: Data from the Italian MEDIDIET Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8160768/
Nutrition and mental health: A review of current knowledge about the impact of diet on mental health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9441951