I‘ve just wrapped my first week postpartum with little Clara. It’s a tumultuous time, full of euphoric highs spent gazing at one’s perfect newborn, and rock-bottom lows, where the body feels like it was hit by a truck and dragged a few miles.
Taking things one day at a time is the best approach to postpartum recovery, combined with getting plenty of rest and, most importantly, eating well.
Today I’ll share a few of my tips for wise food choices that attend to three important needs following a birth: Physical Energy & Healing, Milk Production & Quality, and Bowel Regularity.
Oh, I just might throw in a Baby Clara photo, too, since she’s so cute! This post is packed, so read on.
Three Elements a Good Postpartum Diet Should Address
I can recall dropping by a friend’s place a couple of days after she returned from the hospital with her newborn. Bags and containers from various fast food chains littered her kitchen table and counters. The fridge contained nearly nothing fresh, and far too many cans of soft drinks. Hardly nourishing fare for a new mother attempting to breastfeed.
As I warmed up the beef and vegetable stew I had brought over for her dinner (I’m a firm believer in cooking for others), I offered to go grocery shopping, and made a few gentle suggestions for a diet change. To me, this was the biggest gift I could give her during this crucial time of recovery.
Three elements stood out in my mind this past week that I knew I needed to address in my diet. These recommendations are based solely on my three combined postpartum experiences! As every woman is unique, others’ postpartum needs may differ.
1. Physical Energy and Healing
As with pregnancy, it’s important to provide your body with nourishing, energy-boosting foods during the postpartum period and avoid the junk. Alcohol and caffeine included.
I allowed my self a few squares of chocolate last week, but avoided sugar for the most part. Why feed my body empty calories? Plus, that terrifyingly-loose post-baby body is incentive enough to avoid sugar.
Instead, for dessert I prepared a big bowl of fruit salad, coated it in a honey-vanilla syrup, and topped it with toasted coconut. Perfect. It satisfied my sweet tooth, and provided vitamin C and fiber.
Honey-Vanilla Syrup for Fruit Salad
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 4 Tablespoons water or orange juice
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir well, and cool. Coat chopped fresh fruit in syrup and stir well. Fruit salad keeps for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
2. Milk Production and Quality
In her book, Parents Need to Eat Too, Debbie has an excellent chapter on the breastfeeding diet. Just a few tips are below:
- Your body requires just 500 extra calories a day to support your breastfeeding.
- As a breastfeeding mom, you need adequate fluids to ensure a proper milk supply, so drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
- What you eat winds up in your milk. If your baby is gassy or showing signs of an upset stomach, check your diet.
As far as diet goes, Debbie suggests ingredients such as almonds, oatmeal, and raspberry leaf tea to help with milk production.
Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of recipes featuring oatmeal to play with!
- Scottish Oat Scones
- Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- Fluffy Banana Oat Pancakes
- Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oats
3. Bowel Regularity
Oh yes, I’m going there! Ask any women who has just given birth, no matter the method – C-section, natural, or medicated – and she will agree that her bowels are a concern. You can choose over-the-counter stool softeners, or you can incorporate certain whole foods into your diet that aid and abet regularity.
Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water content, and are terrific for getting the job done. Choose stone fruits, sweet potatoes, berries, and apples with the skin on. Fiber is your friend, and whole grains and nuts are packed with it. Serve up oats for breakfast, choose walnuts, pistachios and almonds for snacking, and bake a brown rice pilaf for dinner.
Danny stewed a pot of these prunes for me on the day we returned from the hospital – and they were amazing! I’d spoon them up even if I didn’t need them for their laxative qualities. They were that good.
|Stewed Prunes with Citrus & Cinnamon||
- 1 lb pitted prunes
- 1/2 orange, cut from top to bottom
- 1/2 lemon, cut from top to bottom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Slice the orange and lemon very thinly, giving multiple half-moon pieces and remove the seeds, if any.
- place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepot and just cover with water.
- Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Serve warm or refrigerate overnight. Keeps 1 week.
Eat Well, Spend Less
This month in our Eat Well, Spend Less series, we are talking about all things BABY! Not one, not two, but three of us who regularly contribute to this series gave birth last month; you’ve already met Clara, Tammy welcomed the adorable Channah, and Carrie added another Baby Bargains to the family.
No wonder babies are front and foremost on our minds! Here’s a list of contributors discoursing on eating well, and spending less with baby this month.
- Alyssa from Kingdom First Mom
- Carrie from Denver Bargains
- Jessica from LifeasMOM
- Katie from Kitchen Stewardship
- Mandi from Life Your Way
- Shaina from Food for My Family
- Tammy from Tammy’s Recipes
Giveaway! Parents Need to Eat Too
**This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Becca Schwartz! Becca commented:
“I was disappointed that we only received a handful of meals postpartum. seems like where I live that tradition is dying out! My favorite meal was a chicken chili that a friend brought over. I would love to win this book! At 6 weeks postpartum I’m still struggling to find time to eat healthily enough.”
Congratulations, Becca! You have been notified via email.
To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment on this post and (if applicable) share a postpartum meal you remember – good or bad!
Giveaway ends tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, at 11:59PM. Good luck to all!