Pregnancy is a life-changing experience for most women. While it is important that a woman carefully plans her diet while she is pregnant, following a healthy diet post-delivery is equally essential. The diet to be followed after pregnancy, in fact, requires greater attention because the mother also holds the responsibility to nurture her breastfed infant. Further, she requires strength and energy for daily activities, so, having a balanced diet containing all essential nutrients can prove to be helpful.   

Majority of expecting mothers also experience weight gain during pregnancy. New mothers are usually seeking measures to get rid of the extra weight. A nutritious diet can also help in achieving that.

Read more: How to lose weight after pregnancy naturally

Post-pregnancy, numerous hormonal changes occur in the mother's body as she begins to lactate. The diet to be taken after the delivery should include nutrients that ensure aiding proper lactation, since it is the only means of nutrition for the newborn. This article discusses all the nutritional components and food items to be included in a post-pregnancy diet that ensure it is beneficial for both the mother and the baby.

  1. Postnatal diet after normal delivery
  2. Postnatal diet after caesarian delivery
  3. Indian diet plan after delivery
  4. Post-pregnancy diet chart to lose weight
  5. Foods to avoid post-pregnancy

The normal delivery method, also called vaginal delivery, is the most harmless method of child delivery and does not result in many complications for the mother or the child. The mother, however, requires to regain her strength after birth and ensure that she is properly lactating to feed her child. To ensure all these needs, her diet must include the following components:

  • Carbohydrates:
    Carbohydrates are essential nutrients for new mothers to replenish their diminished energy. However, it is important to choose the right type of carbs while eating. Wholegrain wheat bread, cereals, and other healthy sources of carbs must be included in the diet.
  • Proteins:
    The type of protein recommended post-pregnancy is lean meat generally obtained from poultry, lean chicken, eggs, fish, and pulses. Proteins also enhance satiety and are essential for mothers trying to achieve weight loss post-pregnancy.

Read more: Weight loss diet chart

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  • Fibers:
    Women often experience constipation post-pregnancy. Including enough dietary sources of fibers in your meal like oatmeal, flaxseeds or fruits or vegetables high in fibre content, like apples, mangoes, etc. is essentially required to form a balanced meal post-pregnancy. (Find women health information)
  • Dairy products:
    Dairy food products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, which are also rich sources of calcium are essential for both the mother and the child. Vegans or lactose-intolerant mothers or those having lactose-intolerant babies can opt for vegan products.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables:
    Mothers, post-pregnancy should make it a habit of including sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diet to ensure sufficient vitamins and minerals. Nutritionists recommend five servings per day for mothers post-pregnancy.

Read more: Vitamin A rich foods

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A caesarian delivery or C-section is usually recommended in case of complications during childbirth. The newborn and the mother require additional care after a caesarian delivery. It is very essential that the mother follows the right diet after delivery to help the body replenish its energy stores. The types of nutrients to be included in the post-pregnancy diet after caesarian delivery have been listed below.

  • High fiber food:
    Mothers after caesarian delivery should avoid foods that are low in fibre content such as pasta or junk foods. Such foods are likely to cause bloating and constipation. Intake of fibre-rich foods will help to avoid these conditions and facilitate good bowel movement.
  • Proteins:
    Including sufficient amounts of protein in the diet can help in the healing process after a c-section. Proteins are involved in the formation and repair of the tissues, which may assist in healing. It will also help in maintaining the muscle mass of the body after surgery. The inclusion of fish (rich in omega 3 fatty acids) and eggs in the diet will provide the necessary proteins post-pregnancy.
  • Iron-rich foods:
    At times, mothers excessively bleed during childbirth through the c-section method. Iron is required to maintain the levels of haemoglobin and replenish the blood lost during the process of delivery. Iron-rich foods such as egg yolks, dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, etc. must thus be included.
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C:
    Vitamin C is required by new mothers as it helps in fighting infections. The antioxidant property of this vitamin helps to enhance the process of tissue repair and minimise damage. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, like lemons and kiwi must be included in the diet given to new mothers
  • Calcium-rich foods:
    Milk or milk products usually have high amounts of calcium, which is required for the strengthening of bones and blood coagulation. Dairy products such as cheese, tofu, yoghurt etc. have calcium in sufficient amounts.
    Besides dairy products, calcium is also found in high amount in spinach. Breastfeeding mothers should ensure that they are taking calcium in adequate amounts for a better health and development of their child.

Read more: How to breastfeed

India is known for its use of spices and herbs. These spices can work wonders when included in a post-pregnancy diet. The Indian post-pregnancy diet generally recommends the use of the following ingredients:

  • Turmeric:
    It is a host of several vitamins, potassium, fibre, manganese and magnesium. Turmeric a standard ingredient in Indian cooking and has been used for healing internal and external wounds. Studies suggest that turmeric can help reduce inflammation and is also believed to assist in the healing of post-pregnancy wounds. Further studies and evidence, however, are required to establish this fact.

Read more: Inflammatory disease symptoms

  • Dried ginger powder:
    Ginger dried and crushed to form powder contains vitamin E and several minerals. It may have an anti-inflammatory effect and its inclusion in moderate amounts is suggested. 

Read more: Ginger powder benefits

  • Lentils:
    An integral part of the Indian diet are its lentils (daal). They are rich in proteins, fibres, minerals, and vitamins. They prevent fats from accumulating in the body and are also easy to digest. Including lentils in the diet can help in achieving the desired weight loss post-pregnancy.
  • Carom seeds:
    These seeds are commonly known as ajwain in India. In Ayurveda, ajwain seeds are said to increase lactation in mothers post-pregnancy. Studies in this regard are, however, required to support this claim. Additionally, different studies suggest that ajwain has antioxidant, and antiseptic properties that are beneficial to both the mother and child and thus, it is recommended to include it in your post-pregnancy diet.
  • Fenugreek:
    Fenugreek or methi seeds are a rich source of calcium, iron, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are required in adequate amounts in mothers and the child. This makes fenugreek tea a popular drink among lactating mothers.
  • Finger millet:
    Popularly known as ragi in India, these are an excellent source of iron and calcium, both of which are required in great amounts after delivery. Finger millets can help in gaining is a good alternative for mothers allergic to milk and milk products.

Mothers can use the following a post-pregnancy diet chart to help them make the right food choices to achieve the desired results. A diet chart also helps them to track the quantity of nutrients required daily, since it is very essential for the health of the mother and the child after pregnancy.

Food Type


Amount to be included in a portion


Number of portions per day


Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high-fibre cereal varieties


  • 1 slice (40 g) bread
  • ½ (40 g) flatbread
  • ½ cup (75–120 g) cooked rice/pasta, whole wheat noodles/semolina
  • 2/3 cup (30 g) wheat cereal flakes
  • ¼ cup (30 g) muesli
  • 1 small (35 g) muffin


Vegetables and legumes/beans


About 75 g
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas, lentils
  • 1 cup green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, or raw salad vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, etc
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables
  • 1 medium tomato




About 150 g
  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear
  • 2 small apricots, plums
  • Occasionally:
  • ½ cup (125 mL) fruit juice with no added sugar
  • 30 g dried fruit


Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives


  • 1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk
  • 2 slices (40 g) hard cheese
  • 1 cup (250 mL) soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100 mg/100 mL calcium
  • 100 g almonds with skin
  • 100 g firm tofu


Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes or beans


  • 65 g cooked lean meat
  • 80 g cooked lean poultry
  • 100 g cooked fish or 1 small can of fish
  • 2 large (120 g) eggs
  • 1 cup (150 g) cooked legumes or beans such as lentils, chickpeas or split peas
  • 170 g tofu
  • 30 g nuts, seeds, or nut or seed paste


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It is important that the mother and the child receive the right kind of nutrients post-pregnancy. Eating unhealthy foods during the post-natal period can lead to serious complications in both. The foods that should not be consumed post-pregnancy have been listed below.

  • Avoid carbonated drinks as they cause gas. The artificial sweeteners usually added to such drinks may also cause harm to the newborn.
  • Drinks containing high amounts of caffeine such as tea and coffee are dehydrating and increase the rate of urination. Caffeine could also lead to developmental disorders in the child. Such foods should, therefore, be included only in moderate amounts in the post-pregnancy diet.
  • Alcohol must be completely avoided post-pregnancy as it reduces lactation and could lead to developmental disorders in the newborn.
  • Foods like white lentils, red kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed beans, green peas should be gradually incorporated in the diet. For the initial 40 days post-pregnancy, it is best to avoid foods like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, ladyfinger and onions that could cause bloating.
  • Fried foods are hard to digest and cause indigestion and gas and it is best to avoid them.
  • In case of caesarian delivery, especially in mothers affected with diabetes, it is best to avoid rice in the post-pregnancy phase. Rice is high in carbohydrates and may cause blood sugar levels to increase, which prolongs the process of healing. Brown rice can be taken as it provides the required energy and is low in calories.
  • Canned food products, especially canned fish and meat should be avoided as they are high in sodium content and contain added preservatives. High sodium in such foods may cause blood pressure to increase which is harmful to both the mother and the child.

Read more: Management of high blood pressure


  1. Franca Marangoni et al. Maternal Diet and Nutrient Requirements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. An Italian Consensus Document. Nutrients. 2016 Oct; 8(10): 629. PMID: 27754423
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; The Pregnancy Book
  3. Stanford Health Care [Internet]. Stanford Medicine, Stanford University; The New Mother - Taking Care of Yourself After Birth
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Losing weight after pregnancy
  5. Office on Women's Health [Internet] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Recovering from birth.
  6. Department of Health Strong Bones for You and Your Baby. New York state Government [Internet]
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