After miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth we are often overrun by emotions and our focus can be predominately on bringing healing to our hearts and minds. Whilst this is super important, the role of food in supporting our emotional and mental health can often be overlooked.
1. Keep foods simple.
Most of us don’t want to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen after pregnancy loss. But that doesn’t mean we have to eat badly. If someone asks if they can bring you a meal, ask them to bring something with salad or vegetables on the side. If you are shopping for food, make sure you stock up on healthy snacks – nuts, fruit, protein bars (check the sugar content isn’t too high!), rice cakes, whole wheat bread, etc… You can check out the Healing after Pregnancy Loss’ Healing Foods board on Pinterest for a collection of simple, healing ideas.
2. Keep foods natural.
The book: ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’ by Michael Pollen has some simple advice on eating well: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’. When he talks about ‘food’, he is talking about actual food – as close to their natural state as possible. The more a food is processed, the more nutrients are removed in the process. The closer we eat foods to their natural state, to more nutrients there are for our bodies to use for healing and energy. That is why brown rice and flour are healthier than white – they haven’t had as many nutrients removed in the bleaching process. As a general rule, the more a food advertises that it is ‘low’ in something like: ‘low in fat!’, then be suspicious! It is likely that it is high in something else that is not good for you. You never see advertisements on fruit and vegetables!
3. Keep foods which cause inflammation to a minimum – they place extra stress on your body.
When your body is trying to recover from a pregnancy, good food can be healing and restorative, whilst bad foods can make your body work harder to process them and get rid of them. Foods which are high in sugar or saturated fat (not all fats are bad!) or foods which contained processed grains (white flour etc) can spike blood sugar and make your body work hard to bring the blood sugar levels down – energy which could be used to heal your body instead.
4. Make eating an act of self-care.
It’s not about eating perfectly after miscarriage or stillbirth, it is about cherishing yourself and treating yourself with kindness. Thinking about what you put into your body can be a way of caring for yourself and showing yourself grace. Sometimes we can feel our body has betrayed us after a miscarriage or stillbirth. We can be tempted to treat ourselves badly. Taking 10 minutes to write a short shopping list of healthy snack and meal ideas can make a huge difference in what we put into our bodies during the week.
5. Extra nutrients needed after miscarriage or stillbirth.
During the birthing process, many women lose more blood than they would during a normal period. Iron levels can drop significantly, which can make us feel tired and down.
An iron-rich diet can, therefore, be a healthy part of recuperating strength after loss. Foods that contain red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and lentils are all iron-rich foods, as are other types of meat and fish. Calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron, whereas vitamin C is a great help to the absorption of iron, so perhaps consider a glass of orange juice with your iron-rich food. If you are a non-meat eater, you may need to consider taking vitamins if your iron levels are low as it is difficult (although not impossible in some cases) to meet iron requirements without meat. If you think you may be anemic (when iron levels are so low they cause excessive tiredness as well as other symptoms), then check with your doctor.
Finally: Remember the 80-20 Rule.
It’s not about eating perfectly all the time, but it is about aiming for 80%. Do your best to make good choices when you can and don’t stress the rest! Be kind to yourself and enjoy eating well in this season.
Eating is just one way to take care of yourself. Click the banner below to grab your free self-care after loss guide today.