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Best Foods for New Moms

WebMD Expert Column
Reviewed by Jennifer Shu, MD

Being a new mom is undeniably rewarding and one of the most joyful experiences in life. Most moms take great care of themselves during the first three trimesters of pregnancy. But during the so-called fourth trimester, when baby comes home, mom’s nutrition tends to go by the wayside.

Moms are sleep-deprived, exhausted, coping with physical and emotional stress, and taking care of baby, and they have little energy to take care of themselves let alone prepare healthy meals.

Your baby’s nutrition is important, but so is yours.

So here is expert advice for moms on getting back in shape with the best foods that are nutritious, easy to prepare, and available around the clock. These are foods that can boost your mood, energy, and regularity.

Mom’s Nutrition Needs to Be a Priority

It doesn’t matter whether you choose to feed your baby by breast or bottle -- mom’s nutrition needs to be a top priority.

“Just because you delivered the baby doesn’t mean you can ignore the importance of good nutrition for yourself -- a healthy diet can improve your mood, give you energy, and help your body recover from pregnancy,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

A super-nutritious postpartum diet is necessary to provide all the nutrients needed for recovery, lactation (if you breast feed), and coping with depression, constipation, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion.

Co-author of Mom Energy, Ashley Koff, RD agrees. “Mom’s diet determines the quality of her breast milk, and even if she chooses not to breastfeed, her diet will give her all the nutrients she needs to get back in shape, put a zip in her step, and replenish nutrients tapped by the baby during pregnancy," she says.

Eat for Energy

Mom’s best defense to give her the strength and energy to care for herself and newborn is a nutrient-rich diet packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, calories, fiber, and fluids. Ward recommends at least three meals and a few snacks, plenty of fluids, and a once-daily multivitamin to fill in the nutrient gaps.

Koff, whose clients include Hollywood moms, says eating every 3-4 hours will stabilize blood sugar for energy and usually matches up with the feeding schedule of the newborn.

Use USDA’s "My Plate" as a good visual when planning meals to make sure your meals are nutrient-rich and include a good source of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy at every meal.

Grazing Your Way to a Healthy Diet

When regular meals are replaced by mini-meals nibbled throughout the day, Ward says to make sure you always include a source of protein, a nutrient-rich beverage, and a high-fiber carbohydrate or two.

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