Whether you’re pregnant for the first time or just had your baby, the postpartum period can be difficult. Here to help you navigate (and eat your way through it) is wellness advocate, mother of two, doula and FarmMama ambassador, Denise Nicole (@abrooklynbabe)!
The newborn days are intense and the focus is almost entirely on your new little dictator. When you eat, sleep and shower are pretty much all in the palm of those cute tiny hands. So now that you are barely sleeping and squeezing in a shower feels like you just accomplished a nearly impossible feat, how do you find time for healthy meals? What should you be eating anyways? Let’s talk about the basics of postpartum nutrition. No fancy-schmancy recipes with a million ingredients here. Just simple, nourishing building blocks that don’t require too much energy or thought for you, your partner or family and friends to throw together during this hectic time.
Postpartum nutrition starts before you actually give birth.
The preparation before the baby comes is what will really set you up for success. When your body is recovering from labor and you have a tiny human attached to your breast or in your arms with a bottle, you don’t want to have to think about what’s for dinner when you’re not even sure if you ate lunch that day. I have two glorious words for you: freezer meals. That’s right. Cook ’em up, freeze ’em up and have meals on deck during all those long days and nights when you can barely function let alone meal plan, prep and cook.
Veggie heavy, nutrient dense meals are best for a new mama.
Soups and casseroles are great options that are easy to freeze. Pancakes with greens blended in, veggie muffins, beans and lentils are also great options. Half of your plate should be loaded up with veggies and simple stews with a nutrient rich veg or bone broth area easy and fulfilling. Keep a staple of grains (brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and more) in your pantry too. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, you need an additional 500 calories a day, so make sure to incorporate good fats like avocado and nuts! Try to avoid processed food and stick with grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. If you freeze up batches of cooked rice and grains, beans, oatmeal, muffins and vegetables, you’ll have everything you need to sustain you during this time!
The next essential is water.
Okay, I know it’s not food but water is life. You have to stay hydrated! Drinking about 64 ounces of water a day and more if you’re breastfeeding or exercising (after 6 weeks with care provider approval of course) is the goal. I tell my doula clients to drink A LOT of water and just when you think you’ve had enough, drink more! Always keep a water bottle with you (even when you’re at home) and make sure to drink a full cup of water after every nursing session. Teas are also great ways to nourish a new mama. Nettle Leaf tea is a powerhouse packed full of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, many B vitamins, Vitamin C and K, amino acids, magnesium and folic acid. Nettle boosts breast milk supply and can help to replenish the body’s nutrients after birth. Raspberry leaf tea is a classic pregnancy and postpartum tea used for many years in many cultures too. Not be taken prior to the third trimester, it can help prime mama’s body for labor and once baby is born there are still many benefits. Raspberry leaf is rich in vitamins and minerals and helps tone the uterus and fortifies as well as increases breast milk.
Now let’s talk about it, the thing they leave out of most postpartum tips: dealing with constipation.
Though slightly awkward to bring up at the doctors (although you definitely should!) and mommy group meetings – it’s very real. Postpartum constipation can happen for a number of reasons but it’s nothing to be concerned about as long as you act to correct it. There are a few simple things you can do to “get things moving” if you will. First, put flax seeds on everything! Flax seeds are tiny but mighty and packed full of fiber and omegas among other things. It’s one of the most powerful plants and it can really help you poop! Magnesium helps with constipation as well and almonds, tofu and dried fruits like pears and apricots are great sources of magnesium. If you prefer to mix it into your meal plan, I often take a magnesium powder called Calm by Natural Vitality to my doula clients during my postpartum visits and they (we) love it.
The postpartum period (or the fourth trimester as some call it) is a beautiful and complex time full chock full of emotions. Make sure to line up some support before it gets too crazy and take in those wonderful moments. Prep in your third trimester by planning a meal prep party for friends and family and make batches of food together then freeze them for later or request a frozen meal at your baby shower and have a mother’s helper schedule sign up sheet. Get all the help you can so that you can feel healthy and supported and have more time to stop and smell that new baby smell! And if and when it’s time to return to work outside the home, be sure to check out OFarm Co-Founder Cassandra’s six tips for returning to work after maternity leave.