Facebook Twitter instagram Youtube
Essential Nutrients & Vitamins for Women in the Postnatal Period?

Essential Nutrients & Vitamins for Women in the Postnatal Period?

The postnatal period or postpartum is the time phase that starts immediately after childbirth. Also known as the fourth trimester, it is that time in a woman’s life after childbirth when the physiological changes in her body start going back to the pre-pregnancy period. The definition of optimal postnatal care lies in considering it a vital opportunity to take care of the nutritional and physiological needs of both the child and the mother.


In India, the postnatal period is also called “Jhaapa” where the new mother is taken care of by specialised caregivers and the essential nutrients are added to her meals for comprehensive care and well-being. Apart from nutrition, postnatal care also involves supporting healthy behaviours, helping the new mother breastfeed, and ensuring her good mental health at all times.


Postpartum or postnatal nutrition is important for both mother and the child because:

  • A nutrient-dense diet speeds up the recovery of women after a normal birth or caesarean section,
  • The nutrients affect the quantity and quality of breast milk production, and
  • A well-balanced diet with all essential nutrients supports the overall well-being of a busy mom and helps her develop the stamina to take care of the child.


What are the Essential Vitamins & Nutrients for Women in the Postnatal Period?


1. Iron

Not just during pregnancy but the new mother needs iron as one of the most essential nutrients even after childbirth. A woman loses a significant quantity of blood during the childbirth process and it is essential to add adequate iron-rich foods to her diet in the postnatal period. This would help her replenish the lost iron and get back on her feet stronger and sooner. 


Foods rich in iron are:

  • Red meat
  • Seafood
  • Beans & legumes
  • Dark green leafy green vegetables such as spinach
  • Nuts as raisins and apricots
  • Green peas
  • Iron-fortified cereals and pasta
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Beetroot
  • Jaggery
  • Kala Chana

2. Iodine

Iodine is one of the most essential vitamins and nutrients for women that helps lactating women. Iodine is proven to support holistic growth in infants and is crucial for their brain development. This mineral passes on to the infants by their mothers through breast milk. 


It is possible for women to fall short of iodine nutrition because of a non-diary, low salt and no-table-salt diet. Here are some great dietary sources of iodine that help women load up on their iodine nutrition during the postnatal period:

  • Fish, shellfish
  • Table salts with ‘iodized’ label
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Seaweed
  • Liver
  • Chicken
  • Dried prunes
  • Canned corn kernels

3. Calcium

A lactating and postpartum mother needs higher quantities of calcium as both the mother and child need it. The body’s demands for calcium during pregnancy and breastfeeding take a sharp rise which is either supplemented by food or supplements or both. If a postnatal woman’s diet lacks adequate quantities of calcium, the body may draw the calcium from bones to compensate for the need. This increases the risk of osteoporosis in women in the longer run.


Here are some food items that are rich in calcium:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, paneer, and yoghurt
  • Calcium-fortified foods
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Tofu
  • Fish with edible bones
  • Makhana
  • Brocoli

4. Choline

Choline is one of the essential vitamins and nutrients for women required during the postnatal period as it is important for the new-born baby’s brain and nervous system development. It is also essential for postnatal mothers as it is linked to improving memory in females. Breastfeeding mothers need choline in higher quantities to replenish their own stores and make up for the baby. Some excellent food sources of choline are:

  • Meat
  • Poultry (eggs)
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Certain beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A breastfeeding mother needs higher quantities of omega-3 fatty acids as the DHA in them helps support brain development and vision in babies. Not just for babies, it is also a beneficial nutrient for mothers as it helps reduce inflammation in women. It is also one of the important nutrients for women to assist in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Seeds & nuts
  • Lentils
  • Edamame


Food Items a Postnatal Mother Can Easily Consume


  • Low-fat dairy products – Dairy products like milk, cheese, paneer, and yoghurt are excellent sources of calcium, protein, and vitamins B and D. 
  • Legumes – Beans that are rich in iron, specifically the darker ones, like kidney beans and black beans are a great source of iron for postnatal women.
  • Brown Rice – One of the best healthy, whole grain food is brown rice which helps in keeping the energy levels higher and keeps one full for long. It adds the best-quality calories to your milk to offer ample nutrition to the baby.
  • Eggs – Eggs are a great source of essential nutrients like fatty acids and protiens.
  • Oranges & Citrus Fruits – Oranges and other citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C and must be added to every breastfeeding mother’s diet.
  • Ample Fluid Intake – Staying hydrated is one of the most crucial parts of every lactating mother’s postnatal diet. It helps increase the breast milk production and helps avoid dehydration due to consistent breastfeeding.

Medanta Medical Team
Back to top