A doula’s tips on postpartum meal planning and nutrition


After nine months of carefully optimizing your diet with all the best foods to eat for pregnancy (and counting the days until you can eat sushi again), you might be surprised to learn that it’s just as important to focus on nutrition during the “fourth trimester,” or postpartum. 

Food plays a huge part in helping your body recover after birth. While Western culture may expect parents to bounce back immediately and get right back to work, there’s a lot of healing that needs to take place. Ideally, you want to nourish your body with healing foods that are going to support your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. 

Here are the main nutrients and foods I recommend to promote postpartum healing.


Eggs, milk, cheese, meat, and beans are all protein-rich foods that can help give you long-term energy and strength for postpartum recovery

Healthy fats

Avocado, nuts, seeds, and yogurt contain healthy fats that help nourish your body and encourage your milk supply.

Quick and easy energy balls

Taking care of a newborn is hard work—and it’s 24/7! For a quick and healthy snack during a marathon feeding session, make energy balls with oats and nut butter, and throw in extras like chia seeds or flax for even more healthy fats and nutrients. 

Warm soups, stews, and broth

Focus on nutrient-dense foods that are really easy to digest. Warm soups, stews, and broth are nourishing, and require less energy to break down than raw fruits and vegetables. I’m a big fan of incorporating bone broth into the postpartum diet: It’s very healing, and has lots of protein and collagen.


Pregnancy and birth both deplete your iron stores. Eating foods with plenty of iron, such as fish, poultry, leafy greens, and lean red meat, will help you heal faster and feel more energetic. (Tip: Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so sip fruit juice in the morning and include colorful veggies in a dinnertime stew for maximum nutritional benefit.)


Here’s another reason to eat fish for dinner: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that boost the nutritional value of breast milk. Some studies suggest that omegas may help reduce the risk of postpartum depression


Choline is an especially important nutrient if you’re breastfeeding, since it plays a role in your baby’s brain development. Choline comes from animal products, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. 

In the final weeks of pregnancy, stock your freezer with cook-ahead meals for the fourth trimester. The more planning ahead that you can do, the better!

While you can only store so much food in your freezer, having nutritious meals prepped as part of your postpartum plan can be really helpful for nourishing your body after baby.

Meet the author

Hali Shields is the founder of Figgi, a holistic telehealth platform for pregnancy and postpartum. She has worked in maternal health for 14 years and holds credentials as an IBCLC (lactation consultant), national board-certified health and wellness coach and certified doula. 


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