Pretty much every pregnancy or birth preparation book that I’ve read has ended on the day the baby arrives in the world, with little to no mention of how to care for you in the days, weeks and months following the birth of your baby. Both pregnancy and delivery are major physical events that take a toll on your body, and can be compounded by the physical, mental and emotional stress of caring for a new baby. While nutrition might feel like the last thing on your mind your body needs nutrients now more than ever.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was recovering from pregnancy, three days of labour and a C-section and I’ll admit that I ate my fair share of cookies in the middle of the night (thanks breastfeeding hanger!). However I also took care to make sure that I was eating at least one good meal a day, made possible mostly thanks to the kindness of friends, family and rotisserie chickens and organic boxed greens from our local grocery store!
The early days of new motherhood may not be the time for elaborate meal planning, cooking and fancy meals – it’s a time for survival. Simple meals made from whole, unprocessed foods will give you the nutrients you need for recovery and the fuel for the intensity of caring for a newborn.
Keep these superfoods for new mamas in mind when preparing meals and snacks:
Whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section you will come away from birth with tissue damage and your body requires protein to repair tissue. Protein will also help keep you feeling full for longer and regulates blood sugar so you’re not crashing through the day.
Make sure you’re including some protein at every meal and snack. Choose your own adventure: meat, fish or plant-based sources of protein such as tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds will all give you what you need.
A true superfood at any stage of life, fibrous green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and Swiss chard are a surprising source of plant-based protein, and a host of vitamins and minerals.
It’s all about what you can eat with one hand when you’re a new mama and green smoothies are perfect for sipping when nursing, bouncing, rocking or pushing that stroller.
The marathon of labour and delivery can deplete your B vitamin stores, the vitamin our body needs for energy. So it’s no wonder that you’re feeling exhausted. Make sure you’re getting in a serving or two of whole, intact grains to replenish your B’s and give you the energy you need for snuggling that little bean of yours.
Batch cook brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, oats (also said to be a galactagogue that may stimulate breast milk production), barley, faro, or Job’s tears to use as a quick and easy base for a meal.
I firmly believe that you will never go hungry as long as you have a dozen eggs in the house. Eggs are pretty much the closest thing there is to a perfect food and are an excellent source of both B vitamins and protein. Even the best quality eggs are still quite affordable and you can cook them countless ways. When you’ve got a baby on the hip scrambled eggs will become your favourite meal at any time of day!
I’ve never been so thirsty as I was in those first weeks after my girl was born. Breastfeeding can leave you parched and it’s important that you stay well hydrated for energy and also for mental health; dehydration can contribute to anxiety and depression. Look out the biggest bottle you have and keep it handy because you’re going to need it!
A new baby turns your life upside down and it’s tempting to let your nutrition and nourishment fall by the wayside when you’ve got someone demanding your attention 23.5 hours a day. But believe me when I tell you that taking the time to care for you and asking for support will make you a better mama!
I’ve designed a free one-day meal plan – with recipes! – just for new mamas so they can take the guesswork out of what to eat. Download it now.