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Supplementation after pregnancy is a delicate subject—particularly if you're breastfeeding. While many doctors will recommend you keep taking your prenatal multi while you're nursing, you want to be really careful taking more than that. There are even some supplements that you should definitely avoid if you're breastfeeding. Be sure to consult with your doctor and get their permission before starting any new supplement regimen, including this one.
Truth be told, you really don't need much in the way of supplements post-pregnancy to stay in good health. But in my case, I did find that adding some clean protein made with natural ingredients really helped me meet extra nutritional needs I had after my son was born—especially once I started training again.
In this video and article, we're going to discuss whether supplemental protein has a place in your post-pregnancy plan. I'll share a couple of protein baking recipes that were staples in my house when I began training again. I'll also discuss supplement options for both nursing and non-nursing mothers.
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How much protein do I need?
Giving birth is hard on you. It takes time, rest, and plenty of calories for you to begin to recover. And if you're breastfeeding, you have a significantly higher demand being placed on your body from milk production.
In addition to needing extra calories, nursing mothers also require additional protein. The recommended daily allowance of protein for pregnant and nursing women is nearly 50 percent above what it is for non-nursing women. And if you're looking to start training regularly or add muscle, those needs actually increase so you can adequately support exercise recovery and muscle growth.
Once I began the Post-Pregnancy Fitness Trainer, I raised my daily protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight, which is what is usually recommended for athletes who are training hard and want to gain muscle. A level this high isn't necessary for everyone, though. The USDA recommends a minimum of just 71 grams of protein per day for breastfeeding moms, but every mom is a different size and weight, and may have different dietary and fitness goals.
A nursing mom needs between 200 and 500 extra calories per day to maintain milk production. But rather than counting calories, I simply listened to my body and paid attention to hunger cues, eating when I felt the urge—usually with additional protein. Since it's important to avoid certain types of fish when breastfeeding and I don't eat much dairy, it was sometimes hard to get enough protein from food alone.
For this reason, I often relied on a natural protein powder like the ones I created for my Jamie Eason Signature Line. They're all free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners. I would either drink my protein as a shake or make homemade protein cookies, bars, and pancakes.
If you know me, you know that I love baking with protein. Before I gave birth, I made all sorts of protein treats and froze them along with lots of other foods. These are easy snacks you can eat any time—like while you're nursing, or when you're too exhausted to even think about cooking.
So now that I've given you an overview of how protein can help you post-pregnancy, let's talk about some other specific supplement recommendations for both nursing and non-nursing moms.
Aside from a protein powder made from natural ingredients, other safe options for nursing moms include a probiotic free of artificial sweeteners, as well as essential fatty acids such as krill oil, which is typically lowest in mercury. Another option to consider, especially with life being so busy, is a superfruit or greens product.
As Dr. Dugan discusses in the video above, there may be some additional supplements that can help you, depending on your circumstances. Vitamin D, iron, and calcium are common deficiencies in new moms, for instance. Do your research, talk to your doctor, and learn your specific needs!
If you're not nursing, it's still important for you to get adequate protein to help regain any muscle you may have lost, so I recommend a natural protein powder, which you can take any time of day—but especially post-workout.
In addition to the supplements I mentioned for nursing moms, you might also consider a pre-workout, multivitamin, and branched-chain amino acids.
Keep it simple
Let's be absolutely clear: You shouldn't rely on protein powder as your primary source of protein. This is true for all fit people, new mothers or not. You need whole foods and good nutrition, now more than ever! But if you're looking to fill the gaps in your diet, the ideas and recipes I provided here are a great place to start.
Before you start training, be sure to watch the other videos in this series, including the Months 1-3 Overview and the nutrition, training, and time-management videos. This is a complete package, so get all the information you need for the results you want.