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It goes without saying that you experience a lot of physical changes during pregnancy, but your post-baby body also requires special care and attention. At this point, you’re still physically recovering from childbirth and adapting to motherhood in a number of ways– from repairing your tissues to producing milk, your body is working extra hard to provide everything you and your baby need. In your new life as a mother begins, the first six months to a year after your baby was born can easily set the tone for your overall health practices. Worried about staying healthy (and hopefully losing that baby weight)? Keep these important tips in mind.

  1. Avoid dramatic changes. Now is not the time to make your weight fluctuate because of “juicing” diets or cutting out fats or carbs entirely. It may yield flattering short-term results, but the weight will come back once you return to normal dieting. It’s also not good to deprive yourself of filling, energizing vitamins and nutrients if you’re breastfeeding.
  2. Stay hydrated. This is vital for breastfeeding no matter what, but new moms who breastfeed often report feeling thirsty more frequently. It makes sense, since you’re losing a lot of fluids every day. To combat dehydration make sure you drink about eight glasses a day– you can mix it up with water, fruit juice, or fat-free or 1% milk.
  3. Snack frequently. Post-pregnancy, it’s just about impossible to get all the nutrients you need in three square meals a day. You should snack on healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables or protein-rich snacks like nuts, a few times a day. Don’t worry about calories because you need a good amount of calories to produce breastmilk for your baby.
  4. Prepare for your inevitable cravings. Like I said, you’ll feel the urge to snack a lot. Worry less about snacking in general, and more about your choice of foods. Load up your fridge, cabinets, and any other tempting spots with healthy options. I recommend fat-free or low-fat yogurt, whole grains like cereals or pasta (you need these carbs for energy), and prepackaged salads. Being well-stocked with healthy choices will prevent you from reaching for something sugary or fatty.
  5. Focus on calcium. You need about 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day. To really understand how important calcium is, other vital nutrients for new moms like iron and vitamin C only require around 9 and 120 milligrams per day, respectively.