I don’t know about you, but with both pregnancies, I start to get a bit antsy in the third trimester. Not only was I so excited to meet Baby, but also excited to “get my body back”, so to speak. Pregnancy (and motherhood in general) is a very humbling experience because you find that as much as you try and control your own body, you really can’t. In my case, for example, I ate well and exercised throughout my entire pregnancy and still ended up gaining 30 pounds with each pregnancy. This weight gain is totally within a healthy range and I’m happy to pack it on if it means a healthy baby! At the same time, the thought of being in control of my own body again is an exciting one for me.
This is why I reached out to a good friend, nutritionist, and fellow Mama for some expert advice. I first met Deanne Wiseman through my Midwives. We have this awesome thing at my Midwife clinic called “Centering”, where all the women that are due in the same month get together a few times throughout pregnancy and just chat. In both pregnancies, Centering has helped me significantly. Not only was I able to learn from these other incredible women, but I was also able to build a supportive community of other Mothers around me.
As soon as I met Deanne, I knew I had to pick her brain. This girl glows from within, is super knowledgeable, and just look how gorgeous she is! Here’s my interview with Deanne on postpartum recovery, proper nutrition and weight loss. Enjoy 🙂
Tell us about yourself…
What’s your education background?
I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and went on to receive my registration as a Dietitian. In September 2017, I became Certified in Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
Tell us a random or surprising fact about yourself
A couple years after University I had the travel bug and decided to set a goal of travelling to 30 countries before my 30th birthday. I made it to my 30th country (Monaco) just before finding out I was pregnant with my first child. The timing was great because I haven’t added any new countries to my list since!
Tell us a bit about your family
My husband and I have two daughters. Our first is now two-and-a-half and our second was just born this past January! We are both born and raised in Calgary (although in opposite ends which feels like two different cities) and are grateful to be surrounded by supportive family. This includes my sister who owns Dashing Dishes – a small family meal-assembly business. Family is everything!
Why are you passionate about nutrition?
I am passionate about healthy childhood development and women’s health issues. I believe healthy families start with healthy mothers and know first-hand we can only take care of others if we take care of ourselves first.
On postpartum recovery, weight loss & nutrition
What is the most important thing women need to keep in mind when they are going through postpartum recovery?
The postpartum period (particularly the first 40 days) is such a sacred time and needs to be recognized as the “fourth trimester”. No matter how your pregnancy was, or how you laboured or birthed, your body needs time to recover and replenish. Not allowing this time to truly nourish yourself can leave you depleted at some point, even if it’s years down the road.
What supplements should we continue or start taking postpartum?
Using supplements can be beneficial in reducing deficiencies and imbalances. Supplements are meant to do just that – supplement a healthy diet. Recommendations are based on individual needs but in general, I suggest new Moms take:
A high quality prenatal vitamin/minerals
Omega 3 Fish Oils (or vegetarian source of DHA like algae)
Probiotics – through fermented foods and supplements
What is your best advice for women who want to drop their “baby weight”?
Breastfeed if you can! Your body will naturally burn calories to make breast milk. It’s important to give ourselves time to shed “baby weight”. Just as the pounds didn’t appear overnight, we shouldn’t expect them to disappear quickly either. For weight loss to be safe and sustainable, it should be a slow process (1-2 lbs per week). Jumping into an intense exercise or a strict diet plan may actually make weight loss more difficult as stress hormones and inflammation increase. Eat a variety of whole foods, small frequent meals full of fibre and protein, stay hydrated, and sleep whenever possible. This also ensures you are healing effectively and not dumping toxins into your body or breastmilk which can happen with rapid weight loss.
What is your go-to recipe for a healthy and easy snack?
For healthy on-the-go snacks, I enjoy energy balls/bars and muffins. These are easy to prepare before Baby comes and can be frozen to last longer. Choose recipes that are high in fibre, protein, healthy fats, and low in refined sugar. You can find a great list of Nutritionist-approved energy ball recipes here. I also love having organic, pasture-raised bone broths on hand to sip throughout the day for warming nourishment and hydration.
Is it true that breastfeeding Moms needs to consume 500+ extra calories per day? It’s always seemed excessive to me…
On average, exclusively breastfeeding moms make ~780ml breast milk per day! That’s almost 600 calories you’re providing to Baby so yes! We need the extra calories through healthy balanced meals to be able to keep up with the demand.
Will losing weight too quickly postpartum affect your milk supply?
Losing weight too quickly can negatively impact both milk quantity and quality. Not consuming enough energy and necessary nutrients can decrease supply and leave you feeling exhausted and depleted.
What is the biggest change a woman needs to make in her diet going from being pregnant to not?
If we think of that postpartum period as the “fourth trimester”, not a lot of changes should occur in a new Mama’s diet. The biggest change related to eating would be having to find time and energy for preparing foods. Consuming balanced meals and nourishing yourself with whole foods is a priority. We still need healthy fats, high-quality protein, plenty of fibre, and adequate hydration just as we did in pregnancy.
Do you have any tips on how to level out those crazy postpartum hormones with diet?
Many nutrients are involved in the production and balance of our hormones. To name a few, we need protein, iron, vitamin B, and vitamin C. These nutrients can be found in a combination of foods like high-quality/organic/pasture-raised meats/eggs/dairy, legumes/nuts/seeds, whole grains, dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits. A major key to hormone balance at any stage of life is blood sugar balance. Eating small frequent meals and limiting intake of refined sugars can do wonders for levelling out those hormonal swings.
How much should we focus on postpartum exercise? Are there particular workouts you would recommend?
An important concept we often forget is that after delivering a baby and placenta, we have a huge internal wound to heal in addition to the rest of the postpartum recovery that needs to take place. We wouldn’t rush back to a vigorous exercise regime if we had a massive wound to heal on the outside of our bodies! Wait for bleeding to stop, start back slowly, and listen to your body. Be mindful of abdominal diastasis and pelvic floor issues. I recommend working with a postnatal physiotherapist, osteopath, or personal trainer for specific exercises best suited to each individual.
Being a new parent is all-consuming. Whether breastfeeding or not, most women barely remember to eat, let alone have time and energy to prepare and cook three balanced meals daily with a newborn.
When the casseroles and veggie trays from visitors run out, having quick, easy, nutritious, and flavourful meals is crucial to nourishing yourself so that you can nourish your baby. Having a stocked freezer and foods that are easy to prepare (for Dad or even older kids) can make a world of difference to shorten recovery time and feed your new family without feeling totally depleted.
Dashing Dishes takes care of all the shopping and chopping so you can take care of the more important things. They also carry gift certificates in any denomination and makes an amazing shower or new baby gift.
Love, peace & healthy recoveries