Nutritional aspects during the fourth trimester of pregnancy
Breaking the Taboo
by Rachel Huban. Plant-based Nutritional Therapist
The fourth trimester is the 12 weeks after birth and nutritional insufficiencies can lead to exhaustion. The first 40 days after birth are key for every mother to rest and heal while bonding with the baby.
The most common symptoms suggestive of nutritional insufficiency:
- Brain fog or ‘baby brain’
- Intense fatigue – feeling tired and wired
- Falling asleep unintentionally or disturbed sleep
- Weight and/or hormonal issues
- Low self-esteem, ‘mum guilt’ and social anxiety
- Thinning hair and softer nails
- Overwhelm and a feeling of not coping
If you have most or all of these symptoms, you are not alone. These symptoms can be prevented by giving new mums more support in the early days of motherhood.
There’s an unspoken competitiveness from society to ‘bounce back’, an expectation for women to go back to work and just ‘get on with it’, often without support. Pressure to find the ‘best’ products and the ‘right’ routine, can be crippling.
Having a replenishment plan for the 4th trimester is important to ensure your body is getting enough nutrients.
I give my clients a 4th trimester plan with meal ideas, recipes, a supplement schedule, herbal teas to avoid & to drink daily, self-care tips and replenishment essentials for hormonal balance.
Whole food plant-based meal plans should be focused on the following nutrients;
These plant foods will make a huge difference to a mother’s recovery.
Here’s a one day meal plan for a breastfeeding mother;
Breakfast: Oatmeal, berries, seeds and mango with fortified plant-based milk
Snack: 1-2 Bananas with tahini
Lunch: Tofu and lentil scramble, leafy greens, avocado, tomato & sourdough bread
Snack: Chia pudding, berries, walnuts and chopped dates
Dinner: Chickpea stew, courgette, kale, peppers, peas, pumpkin and quinoa
Snack: 4 dates with almond butter
Note: This typical day depends on each woman’s milk supply.
Other areas of focus include;
Clean supplements – ‘Clean’ refers to excipient-free supplements. It’s always best to avoid any additives or bulking agents in supplements as they can affect the gut. Brands such as Terra Nova, Viridian, Vimergy and Global Healing Centre are food-based and much easier for the body to absorb.
Water – Aiming for 2.5 litres a day and consider non-caffeinated herbal teas (best to drink these teas separate from the main meals, so they don’t interfere with iron absorption)
Gentle walking – Even just getting up and walking for 15 minutes around the house or less if you’re in the early days of the 4th trimester and healing is taking place.
Sleep – This can be difficult depending on the support you have around you so aiming for 4-6 solid hours as well as some napping during the day. Sleep is very important for allowing the body to heal.
The basics really! I’ve come across many mothers who deny themselves of the basics and expect to be able to run on empty.
Other reasons why moms may not feel 100%
- Not knowing how to relax or switch off has a profound effect on hormones, immune function and gut health.
- Women tend to be in a nutritionally depleted state going into motherhood with busy jobs, demanding schedules and sleep deprivation.
- Lack of family and community support is very common which leads to even more intense sleep deprivation with a new-born.
- Lack of nutrient dense plant-based food has a huge impact on the mother’s energy levels as well as mood.
- A perceived notion that the mother has to be ‘everything’, often leads to many mothers suffering in silence. Asking for help is key.
Postnatal depression is a much more serious condition and needs to be discussed with a medical professional.
Rachel is a plant-based Nutritional Therapist who specialises in coaching women to have a healthy, wellplanned, plant-based pregnancy. She aims to make it clear that a healthy plant-based pregnancy is possible once you know the essential nutrients & supplements to focus on. Learn more about Rachel’s work at www.hubanhealth.com or on Instagram