Mar 8, 2023 • 5 min read

Postpartum Nutritionists: How They Help, Where to Find One, & Cost

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Most women are schooled in the importance of “eating for two” during pregnancy. Childbirth ends that pregnancy-related nutrition period, leading to the brave and uncharted territory called “motherhood.”

Now what? Is it okay to eat anything you want after childbirth?

The first few weeks and months after giving birth are often far more challenging than pregnancy. Between breastfeeding, routine care for the baby, and the endless stream of visitors, it is hard for new moms to remember that their health also matters. In fact, it matters a lot to both mom and baby.

Good postpartum nutrition can help:

  • Ensure a faster postpartum recovery
  • Replace nutrients lost during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Help new moms restore their bodies to their pre-pregnancy weights
  • Reduce the risk of postpartum depression
  • Reduce the risk of postpartum autoimmune disorders like postpartum thyroiditis

Postpartum nutritionists often fill the void left by busy doctors who often don’t have the time or skill to counsel women on how to eat for optimal health after giving birth. They have strong backgrounds in basic nutrition with a special interest in maternal and pediatric nutrition.

By seeing a postpartum nutritionist, you can take the guesswork out of what you should eat after giving birth, learn how to eat well while breastfeeding, and much more. This guide will go over what a postpartum nutritionist/dietitian is, how they can help, how much they cost, and more.

How does a postpartum nutritionist help after birth

You’ve likely heard about the many changes your body and mind go through after giving birth, but you may feel clueless about how nutrition can help you optimally transition from pregnancy to motherhood and beyond.

Research shows that optimal nutrition has enormous benefits for new moms and their children. When you receive counseling from a postpartum nutritionist, you’ll learn which foods to eat, the best food preparation methods for optimal health, and which foods to shy away from for better postpartum recovery.

Let’s look at the issues you might face after childbirth to see how your postpartum nutritionist and their advice can help:

  1. Replenish nutrients. Childbirth often means a sudden reduction in blood volume, whether the delivery is vaginal or cesarean.  After childbirth, you will most likely be at risk for iron deficiency anemia and will need other micronutrients and vitamins essential for building up blood stores. Your nutritionist can help you decide which foods help move this process along.
  2. Restore hormonal balance. Hormonal balance after childbirth means being able to restart normal periods or adjusting to hormonal birth control. In either situation, hormonal balance is improved when you have the food precursors to make the hormones you need. You are more likely to reestablish a healthy hormone balance when you eat properly during this transitional time.
  3. Help you get more energy. Exhaustion is a common issue after childbirth. Some of it is because of diminished sleep, while the rest can be from anemia, low mood, and the stress of childbirth. There are foods your nutritionist can recommend that can energize you, so you can take care of your baby.
  4. Help you get better sleep. Your postpartum nutritionist can talk to you about foods containing amino acids and melatonin to safely help you sleep better. When you get better sleep, every other aspect of your daily life should improve.
  5. Make sure you’re eating correctly for breastfeeding. It can be complicated to figure out what foods to eat for optimal breastfeeding.  Healthy babies usually have foods they don’t tolerate well when you breastfeed because they don’t like the taste of your breast milk. Your nutritionist can guide you toward those that your baby will most likely find agreeable to both of you and let you know crucial foods to avoid while nursing.
  6. Help with postpartum food sensitivities. If you already have food sensitivities, a loss of appetite postpartum, or perhaps feel as though your baby isn’t tolerating breastfeeding after you eat certain foods, your postpartum nutritionist can help sort out alternatives in your diet that will allow you to still get the right nutrients in other foods. For example, if you’re experiencing postpartum gas, there may be changes you can make to your diet to help.
  7. Help with postpartum issues like postpartum thyroiditis. The postpartum period is an unfortunate window of opportunity for the development of autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The nutritionist can guide you in choosing high-selenium foods or may recommend selenium supplementation which can reduce the risk of this complication. You can also discuss specific nutritional plans like the AIP diet that may help you.
  8. Review and make suggestions for your diet. Your postpartum nutritionist can review what you’re eating already so they can understand your food practices and preferences. Among these, they can recommend those foods you should eat more of and possible alternatives to those you may not benefit from eating. If you are struggling with postpartum weight gain, for example, they may give you ways to reduce calories to aid losing weight after giving birth.
  9. Create a meal plan for you. Having a good postpartum diet can be stressful with a newborn. Your nutritionist can help with grocery choices to help ease the transition from pregnancy and beyond. They can help you find good places to buy healthy foods in your area, too.
  10. Reduce Postpartum Depression. Postpartum depression can be prevented by enhancing nutrition. Women who eat better have a reduced chance of this postpartum complication. Your nutritionist can show you ways to eat for enhanced mental wellness. You may also want to consider seeing a postpartum depression therapist if you’re experiencing this.
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What should I expect in a postpartum nutritionist visit?

Your postpartum nutritionist can meet you through virtual visits, over the phone, or in person. Some postpartum nutritionists work for larger clinics and can see you in their offices. Others can see you during home visits, where you can discuss your needs in more comfortable surroundings.

Here at Zaya Care, we have a network of postpartum nutritionists that offer all types of visits so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Expect to talk about your health issues, dietary preferences, food intolerances, and any other food-related concerns you might have.

Your postpartum nutritionist will most likely weigh you and determine your body mass index (BMI). This is often used to judge optimal weight. Your BMI will naturally change as you recover from childbirth, but a baseline weight in the first weeks after childbirth will help the nutritionist understand how best to optimize your nutritional status.

If you have follow-up visits, the nutritionist may ask you about your recent dietary choices. They might obtain a new weight for you and may be able to weigh your baby. They may see if your intake of nutrients has been adequate for both you and your baby (if you breastfeed).

>> Find NYC nutritionists & registered dietitians

How much do postpartum nutritionist visits cost? Does insurance cover them?

Postpartum nutritionists are often paid for through private insurance policies. Medicare and Medicaid programs in most states also have coverage for postpartum nutrition services.  

Here at Zaya Care, we help people find maternal health services that are covered by their insurance. You can see available postpartum nutritionists here.

If you need to pay out of pocket for nutrition services, the cost is approximately $150 for an initial consultation and half of that for subsequent or follow-up visits.

Where can I find a postpartum nutritionist?

Postpartum nutritionists can greatly enhance your health after giving birth and can get your baby’s nutritional status off to a good start.

Zaya Care can help you find a postpartum nutritionist near you or help you select a nutrition expert who can see you virtually.

Your OB-GYN may also have a recommendation for a nutritionist you can see as part of their total pregnancy and postpartum care packages. Asking other new moms you know is also a great way to find one.

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Christine Traxler MD is a family physician, lifelong writer, and author with a special interest in mental health, women’s healthcare, and the physical after-effects of psychological trauma. As a contributing writer and editor for numerous organizations, she brings a holistic focus to her work that emphasizes healing and wellness through daily self-care, connecting with others, and setting stepwise goals toward achieving more balanced and authentic lives.