I had my first baby nearly 8 months ago.
In my mind 8 months is a seemingly long time, but I’ll be honest - I’m still coming out of the fog that is having a newborn and I’m still working on feeling like my pre-baby self, though that may forever be a work in progress.
By nature, I like learning about the body. I like understanding how food fuels us and what foods can support us in different stages of life and life goals. This passion is what ultimately lead me back to school to get my degree in nutrition. And while I started with a focus on sports nutrition, growing a child inside me quickly ignited my desire to learn all about the nutrients that support baby and mom both pre- and post-natal.
I quickly learned that while everyone talks about the nutrients you need (think calcium & iron) and foods to pay attention to (avoid nitrates, raw fish, etc.) while you’re growing a baby inside of you, it’s all focused on the baby. And while that makes sense - they are growing rapidly and preparing to enter this world - there’s never a shift to you postpartum.
No one tells you what to do once baby comes out. We focus on baby’s growth, baby’s nutrient intake, while we ourselves need nutrients more than ever for recovery. Between pelvic floor weakness or abdominal healing (from c-section), hormonal changes, and increased need of calories if you’re breastfeeding, the demands on our sleepless, healing bodies are great.
And while I like to believe it’s common knowledge that a diet rich in real foods - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats - is what will help you feel your best, nourish your baby (if breastfeeding), and get back to pre-pregnancy weight, taking supplements can take your recovery to the next level.
There are several supplements that I have been taking for my own personal recovery. For example, I am a huge advocate of a daily probiotic, continuing with your prenatal vitamin, incorporating some protein powder (to keep up the calorie demand nursing baby puts on your body), and most recently collagen.
I started taking collagen about 6 months postpartum and I saw incredible results. Specifically with my hair and skin, but also in muscle recovery.
If you’re postpartum, one of the things you may have noticed around the 3 month mark is crazy hair loss. While this is a normal process, it’s quite alarming and you’ve likely convinced yourself on more than one occasion that you’re going bald. As soon as I started taking daily collagen the rate of hair loss significantly declined and at 8 months, I’m back to normal loss levels. But beyond that, my hair is thicker, shinier and healthier than it has ever been. I’ve also noticed better complexion and noticeably stronger nails.
At about 6 months postpartum, I also struggled with pelvic floor pain. And, while there is no published clinical research that correlates collagen to healing (specifically the myofascial tissue), after taking collagen I saw rapid improvement in my muscle tissue resilience and recovery. While collagen isn’t the only reason I healed quickly, I’m confident that the inclusion of it in my postpartum daily diet promoted a faster recovery and increased muscle strength.
Today, I use collagen daily. As a dietitian, I am very picky with brands - I pay attention to how products are sourced and their certifications (for example - I’m a stickler for Non-GMO), and avoid artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, etc. when possible. For this reason, and others, I chose to start using hydrolyzed (fish scale) withinUs TruMarine™ Collagen, which is a marine collagen peptide, versus an alternative source such as porcine (pig), bovine (cow) or avian (chicken). Without getting too “sciency” on you (read more here) I’ll tell you that this is a prefered source (for me) because the absorption rate is better, it’s non-GMO Project Verified and it is a very clean source.
Not knowing how to incorporate collagen into my diet used to intimidate me. withinUs TruMarine™ Collagen couldn’t be easier to use. It’s tasteless and has no residual texture. I frequently add it into my first glass of lemon water in the morning or my morning coffee. When I have a smoothie it always gets added in there too.
Even as a dietitian, my dietary habits are still, and likely will always be, a work in progress; sort of like my child’s sleep habits! A nutrient-dense day here, a day with muffins and ice cream there -- it’s a squiggly line and as long as we’re staying close to the median, a few dips are OK for our waistline and better for our soul in my opinion.
If you’re postpartum, be patient with your body. Give yourself time to heal, and try to incorporate clean foods and simple, easy dietary changes that can support your body while you focus on your baby.
Kim McDevitt is a Registered Dietitian (RD) specializing in sports nutrition, lifestyle optimization, and is a new mom on a mission to help educate and empower other new moms to get back to their pre-babe nutrition and fitness goals. Spurred by her love of running and devotion to clean, healthy eating, Kim left a career in advertising/marketing to pursue her passions professionally. Today, she's made a career out of her passions working as the National Educator-US for Vega, a plant-based nutrition and supplement company. Kim shares her post-baby journey in hopes of educating and empowering the other new moms out there.
If you’re looking for nutrition support postpartum, we highly recommend to connect with Kim