Is this you? You’re a postpartum mama experiencing all kinds of physical and emotional changes including changes to your appetite.
Many women experience appetite changes postpartum, which could include either being more hungry or less .
When you’re trying to balance so many changes in routines and priorities as a new mama, appetite changes can make it challenging to meet your postpartum nutrition needs. This can impact your energy levels, mood, sleep quality, and overall health. Remembering all these things can make your head spin.
So why do appetite changes happen in the postpartum period?
Increased appetite postpartum
When we think about postpartum appetite, generally we might first think about an increase in appetite.
With healing from postpartum recovery and meeting nutrition needs for breastfeeding, if you choose to do so, your body has increased nutrition needs postpartum. You need extra vitamins and minerals and calories to keep up. Since your nutrition needs are increased, it’s expected that your appetite would naturally increase as well to tell you to eat a bit more food.
Mood changes can also result in increased appetite, as the postpartum period does come with many emotional changes (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about if you’re here) and often food can become a comfort during these times.
Decreased appetite postpartum
While an increase in appetite is completely normal during postpartum a decrease in appetite can also happen for many reasons.
You might be feeling time limitations and not necessarily noticing when you’re feeling hungry. It also could be related to mood and emotional changes, as some parents will feel less inclined to eat when they’re feeling a depressed mood or high stress.
It could also be related to other physical changes postpartum. For example, some women experience constipation postpartum, which can in turn reduce appetite. Whether you’ve experienced an increase or decrease in your appetite, it’s crucial to ensure you’re meeting your body’s needs to support yourself as a new mama.
Here are 4 tips for managing postpartum appetite changes.
1. Take time to reflect on your appetite
Reflection on our appetite is something that many of us don’t do often enough.
Being able to notice your own patterns is a great step towards meeting your nutrition goals. For example, you might notice times of the day that you have a greater appetite, or foods that are more appealing to you at certain meals. Try to reflect on your appetite before, during, and after each time you eat to notice the level of hunger your body is feeling and whether or not your foods are satisfying it.
2. Use your phone to set an alarm or silent reminder every 2-3 hours to encourage regular eating
Sometimes when our appetite cues are a little out of line with our needs, an external reminder can be really helpful.
When the alarm goes off, try having something to eat at that time. If you are managing a reduced appetite, it can be something really small– but I suggest trying to have anything at all as a step toward meeting your body’s needs. This could even be snacking on a couple of nuts if that’s all you can stomach at that moment.
I highly recommend preparing some simple and nutritious foods that you can grab when you need.
3. Prioritize protein-rich foods
Protein is an essential nutrient during the postpartum period. our protein needs are increased to support postpartum recovery as well as to support your breastfeeding nutrition needs if you choose to breastfeed. If you’re having changes in your appetite that could compromise your intake, I suggest prioritizing protein-rich foods to do your best to meet your protein goals.
This could include snacking on meats, fish, legumes, eggs, greek yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, or peanut butter. Make it simple, quick and readily available to ensure you get regular protein throughout your day.
4. Turn to family and friends for support
Family and friends often love helping out where they can, but they may not be sure where is best to step in.
To help manage appetite changes, ask your partner to check in if you need them to grab you something to eat. If friends or family members are looking to help, try suggesting that it may be helpful to have some meals prepared and brought over to support you.
Appetite changes in the postpartum period can be varying and complex. If you have any questions about how to navigate your appetite changes, you can always reach out to our team at PUSH Mama Care.