The Postpartum Diet (Giveaway: Parents Need to Eat Too)

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.

I’ll also share a recipe for Stewed Prunes with Citrus & Cinnamon (amazing!) AND give away a copy of Debbie Koenig’s new book, Parents Need to Eat Too. (Update: this giveaway has ended.)

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!

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
4.4 from 8 reviews
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Recipe type: Dessert
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 10
Gently poached prunes are infused with citrus and spices to produce a plump and fragrant stewed fruit that is sure to please.Top them with chopped almonds for an extra boost of fiber.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pitted prunes
  • 1/2 orange, cut from top to bottom
  • 1/2 lemon, cut from top to bottom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Slice the orange and lemon very thinly, giving multiple half-moon pieces and remove the seeds, if any.
  2. place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepot and just cover with water.
  3. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for 30-40 minutes.
  4. 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.

Giveaway! Parents Need to Eat Too

Thanks to Debbie Koenig and her publisher, William Morrow, I have an extra copy of Parents Need to Eat Too to giveaway! This is an excellent resource for new parents, so much more than just recipes.

**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!

That’s it!

Giveaway ends tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, at 11:59PM. Good luck to all!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been AimΓ©e's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. My little one is 2 now, and that seems like such a long time ago! She was born on a Friday, and I was still in the hospital for our weekly Sunday night dinners. My parents, siblings, and their spouses all came to the hospital with pizza in hand. That was the best Sunday dinner :)

  2. My mom made me a huge pot of ham, green beans, and potatoes to warm up the first week I was home. It was so good!

  3. Rachel Chapman says:

    I remember a big pot of beef stew with sweet potatoes and other warming veggies that a friend brought over after my winter baby was born. It was so perfect to heat quickly and then eat with my one free hand! No cutting required and it was thick enough to b drip free. So satisfying!

  4. Sounds like a great book..just what I need right now! With my first I remember eating apples dipped in yogurt all the time, but I’m currently eating a lot of oreos with the third…

  5. I am now 8 weeks post, and I still can’t eat much meat, because the smell still bothers me from the first trimester. Crazy.

  6. Hi Aimee — what a wonderful wonderful post, and many congratulations again (I already said a little hello on IG) on bringing this gal into the world. I LOVE that you “went there” with the bowel issues — I had very holistic prenatal care, read up a ton, and so on and so on and so on, and this was one of the things no one told me would be scary in the weeks after my little guy’s birth! So happy you’re talking about, and that you’re talking about how food can help. Because it almost always can, no matter what’s ailing you!

    I’m so looking forward to reading Debbie’s book — would love the chance to win a copy.
    Lisa/Frog Bottom Farm’s last post: A lovely start to spring. More soon!

  7. I ate lots of soup–vegetable, chicken, chili–you name it! It was an easy way to get lots of veggies and protein in one bowl.

  8. Friends and family provided meals for three weeks! What a blessing!

  9. Our neighbors brought over a meal unexpectedly one day – simple spaghetti, salad, and I’m pretty sure some brownies ;) Talk about a relief, since it meant one night of not having to think about what we were going to eat!

  10. Crystal Hughes says:

    I am pregnant with our first child due in June. I am looking to plan meals ahead of time and be prepared! These were great suggestions, and I plan on eating something nourishing as my first postpartum meal.

  11. Our small group family from church provided us with meals for 2 weeks following the birth of both of our girls! It was such a blessing. One of my favorite meals included homemade manicotti and cheesecake with fresh berry sauce…mmm!

  12. I make your overnight apple oatmeal once a week. I rediscovered my love for oatmeal through my postpartum diet changes and now I cant get enough of it.

  13. After I gave birth to my soon, I received three different pots of chicken soup! I guess that’s a big post-partum meal in our families. People also gave us ingredients to make food with that they could easily put together.
    Sleeping Mom’s last post: My toddler prefers mom over dad

  14. It sounds interesting.. I want to read that book.. I remember 59 oranges a day to get rid the bad cholesterol..
    Bianca’s last post: Guest houses Paignton

  15. I always thought it was crazy/interesting how your body needs more calories to breastfeed than to be pregnant. Thanks for all the tips and recipes…definitely going to use them!!!!
    femmefrugality’s last post: Why (Your Kids) + (The Library) = Best Friends

  16. I just had a baby 6 days ago. I did work really hard to get almost 20 meals in the fridge before she came and I still had ingredients for a few when she came. However, for this time (#5) I really wanted to take it easy while my husband could be available. He only can stay home from work for a week. I stayed in bed mostly since the birth and he’s been in charge of most meals. The result is that since he’s tired too we’ve only had two meals each day and we’ve had pizza twice and McDonald’s once. I don’t prefer this but I’m also not going to nag him if he doesn’t feel up to getting food ready. For me I’d rather get the extra rest while I can than either be in the kitchen myself or nagging my husband. I was hoping having meals ready would combat this but I guess not.

  17. Women who have just given birth should take the advice of their doctor and not from an article.

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