Nutrition and Diet

Your body went through a lot of changes during pregnancy and childbirth. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to promote your recovery.

The weight gained in pregnancy helps build energy reserves for your recovery and for breastfeeding. After delivery, good nutrition helps you to stay healthy, active, and feeling your best. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Canada’s Food Guide

Canada’s Food Guide explains the amount and types of food you need, as well as the importance of physical activity in your day. Following Canada’s Food Guide will help you to make good choices from four food groups:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • grain products
  • milk and alternatives
  • meat and alternatives.

The Food Guide’s tips will help you to:

  • reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and osteoporosis
  • contribute to your overall health and vitality
  • meet your needs for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Losing Weight

  • Many new mothers want to lose their pregnancy weight quickly, but extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can be hazardous to your health.
  • It can take several months to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. Try cutting out high-fat snacks and focusing on a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, proteins, and whole grains. Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you create a sensible plan.
  • Losing 1 to 2 pounds per month for the first 6 months (or until you reach your desired weight) is safe for both you and baby.

Vitamins and Nutrition after Pregnancy

Some women develop anemia during pregnancy and after childbirth. Anemia is a condition in which the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body to all the tissues and organs. See your health care provider to diagnose and advise you about anemia.

  • Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, weak, dizzy, short of breath, or having headaches.
  • You need to eat foods with iron, protein, and other nutrients if your body is to produce healthy blood.
  • You can help prevent anemia by eating more iron-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, red meat, nuts, fortified cereals, or by taking iron supplements if recommended by your health care provider.
  • Vitamin C helps your body to absorb the iron in foods. One way to add vitamin C to your meals is to drink a glass of orange juice.

Healthy Eating Keeps Mom and Baby Healthy

Your breast milk is nature’s perfect recipe for your baby’s growth and development.

  • Avoid foods with added fat, sugar, salt, and chemicals.
  • Eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full.
  • Water, milk, 100% pure vegetable and 100% pure fruit juices are good choices when you are thirsty.
  • Folate is a vitamin found in dark green vegetables, citrus fruit, and whole grains. Ask your health care provider if you need extra folate while breastfeeding.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate.
  • Eat many different kinds of foods.
  • Stay away from nicotine and other poisons. If you cannot quit smoking, try not to smoke at least an hour before the next feeding.
  • Talk to your health care provider if you are taking any medicine. This includes medicines that you can buy without a prescription.

To Learn More…

Public Health Agency Canada:
La Leche League Canada: