Postpartum snacks don’t get the credit they deserve. This post will review some of the best postpartum snacks, whether you want homemade options, or storebought easy postpartum snacks.
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Since I’m such a big proponent of snacking (and an avid snacker myself – remember that my nickname in college was “snacks”?), I figured detailing a post on healthy postpartum snacks would be beneficial.
I remember two days after having our VBAC home birth, our lovely doula, Lindsay, came by with lentil soup. A great anti-inflammatory soup (great for hydration, too!) to help with recovery and healing. I was all about it.
And then my husband made me my beloved baby french toast for the morning and I felt well fed and well cared for.
You see, postpartum is no time to slack on nutrition. Your body is doing some major healing, and postpartum snacks come in handy between nursing sessions, meals, middle of the night, etc.
I’m currently in my second postpartum period. Well, Hannah is almost one year old, but it’s still postpartum for me.
Similarly, I still think of my running as postpartum running even though I’m a year out. Thankfully, it is much different than my running in the third trimester, and what I’m eating makes a big difference.
What to Include In Postpartum Snacks
Nutritionally speaking, let’s talk about what makes up the best postpartum snacks.
While we generally think of mostly fruits and vegetables as “healthy,” postpartum snacks will need to be more energy-dense usually.
Fruits and veggies won’t provide the fat for your hormones and cell membranes, the protein for cell and muscle repair, or the overall calories you need.
Note that the quantities of what’s listed below may change depending on what phase of postpartum you are in, and if you are bresatfeeding, chasing around other kids, resuming activity, etc.
Here’s what to think about in a postpartum snack:
- Calories – In the early postpartum period, our calorie needs are higher. We’re trying to replenish the marathon that is birth. Looking for low-calorie snacks isn’t going to cut it. You need calories for energy to survive the blur that is the newborn stage. I generally recommend 200-300 calories for a snack a couple of times a day, maybe more if breastfeeding.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the body’s quickest source of energy. So while you likely aren’t sleeping a ton in the early weeks and months, carbohydrates can give you more energy during the day and prevent your blood sugar from dipping too much. Opt for complex carbohydrates and whole grains when available, but know that all foods can offer energy.
- Protein – Protein is the satiation factor, plus it tends to offer an array of micronutrients, from zinc to iron to B-Vitamins and more (depending on which sources you choose)! Here’s more about determining your protein needs.
- Fat – Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat is essential in the diet and is very important for our brain health, too. Focusing on mostly unsaturated fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids (I love this liquid omega 3 for absorption) boasts several nutrient benefits, and if breastfeeding, can carry over to the baby.
- Fiber – Whether you’re on an iron supplement due to blood loss postpartum, or the hormone imbalance or stress is causing constipation, eating enough fiber is imperative postpartum. Fiber-rich foods, like fruits, veggies and whole grains, also offer several important micronutrients as well. Fruits, veggies, no bake oatmeal bites, and homemade trail mix bars are great sources of fiber.
- Antioxidants – It makes sense that there is inflammation in the body. We just carried a baby for 9+ months and gave birth. Our hormones are very confused, and we have to focus on healing. Make sure to include an array of colors on your plate!
- Hydration – Of course, it’s always important to stay hydrated and include electrolytes too, especially if it’s the hot summer months (use these summer hydration tips) or you’re waking up with night sweats in the early weeks. I prefer to make homemade electrolyte drinks and skip the extra sugary Gatorade and Powerade, though I have heard that certain flavors may help with milk production.
Breastfeeding makes you SO thirsty! Lactation smoothies were so thirst quenching and helped with milk production.
Lastly, a great resource on all things pregnancy and postpartum nutrition is Lily Nichols, who is the author of Real Food for Pregnancy.
Healthy Postpartum Snacks and Ideas
A study published in the Journal of Prenatal Medicine defines the postpartum period as having three distinct phases:
- Initial or acute period – 6-12 hours after delivery
- Subacute postpartum period – 2-6 weeks after delivery
- Delayed postpartum period, which can last up to 6 months
Personally, as a mom, I think we’re always “postpartum” to some extent, but we are likely much more vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies in the early stages if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Preparing healthy snacks for moms should be the norm!
While this post will mostly focus on the best postpartum snacks, I have a whole post on the best freezer meals for postpartum, too, where I share many postpartum recipes.
And breakfast can be hit or miss because you’re likely exhausted from the sleep deprivation and have no energy to make anything.
You can adapt some of these ideas for breakfasts for athletes because energy needs will be similar to a high training athlete for recovery.
The main gist is to aim for a balanced plate, quality protein and ample healthy fats and antioxidants. All of this will help support repair and recovery!
Let me know what some of your favorite lactation snacks or healthy snacks postpartum were!