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 Aimée'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. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Laurence G-L says:

    I would love to read that book. I don’t have stories to share, but love to ear your !

  2. I am expecting baby #2 and could definitely use something like this! I remember feeling like I had to choose between eating and sleeping after my daughter was born, and that wasn’t good! We only had one meal brought to us, and it was NOT real food, but I was glad to not have to cook (though I should note my mom was here for two weeks, thankfully). Thanks for the chance!

  3. I’m at 34 weeks and I definitely need to start thinking of what to eat postpartum! I’d love all the ideas I can get.

  4. With baby number one, I remember nothing other than being starving and thinking that the beef broth and red jell-O at the hospital was truly divine. With baby number two, we had just moved and a new neighbor brought us the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever had. A good friend brought also brought me a the best breastfeeding feast when I had to go on a diet to try and eliminate all foods that might be causing baby’s distress (my lactation consultant called it “the prison diet”). Now, with number three due in less than four weeks, I fear that I will have no time to cook at all. This book sounds like it might help!

  5. Have boy #1 and boy #2 will be here in about a month and a half. Would LOVE this book. I actually remember the days before boy #1 was mobile and he (I think) liked watching me prep food in the kitchen from his swing, so I remember feeling relatively “productive” in the kitchen as a new mom in some of the early stages of his life!

  6. I am due in September and very overwhelmed by learning new techniques to healthy whole food eating as I am not good in the kitchen to begin with. I would LOVE to have this book for guidance. Thanks for the opportunity

  7. I had a kind neighbor bring us broccoli casserole after my daughter was born. It tasted good while eating, but afterwards the gas was awful! I would highly recommend no broccoli for awhile!

  8. I’m a huge believer in healthy and homemade getting you through any physically hard times, and don’t remember what she made but my mom kept us eating home cooked meals as we adjusted to life with baby. I now make cooking hearty soups and meals a priority whenever a friend gives birth. Eating good food makes such a difference.

  9. I have two boys, a one year old and a (almost) three year old. I still have trouble getting myself fed at lunchtime when I’m trying to feed them as well, so this book looks like it would help a lot! With my first baby, all I wanted were sandwiches in the first weeks, so I could eat with one hand while nursing him. I craved deli meat, since I hadn’t eaten it in nine months, and my mom’s egg salad.

  10. Go you!! :). I don’t remember being too concerned about myself postpartum and I think it showed. Good advice for the next time around ;).

  11. One of my favorite meals after I found out my baby hated dairy was a replacement for yogurt. I don’t have a name for it because I made it up. Instead of yogurt I would add organic coconut milk(the kind you find in the asain section in a can). In a bowl I would mix berries, oats, and pour coconut milk over it. It was the best next to yogurt. High in fat too; a plus for nursing mommas.

  12. After I gave birth to my twins I was stressing out because of my low milk production and with my hormones going crazy I was so depressed I didn’t eat much of anything. Then my pediatrician told me “relax, eat something, now is the time to eat everything you ever dreamed of, have some cheesecake!” Well, I took his advice…what if the milk never came? I was stuck with the cheesecakes for a long time!

  13. having a baby in June and this book would be perfect. we are planning on making up a bunch of easy/healthy freezer meals that we can pop in the oven easily after baby comes!

  14. After my son was born, a friend offered to bring chicken pot pie–one of my favorite comfort foods–but it was so awful I could barely eat a serving! Hope deferred makes the heart sick . . .

    This time around (due in just two weeks!) I’d love to have this book as a resource. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  15. Mary Kathryn says:

    I needed this post- I am 5 months postpartum but realized today I needed a boost change. Thanks for the extra push in the right direction. We usually don’t accept meals after I have a baby due to the fact of what others chose to bring- my mom is always here and I try to have good stock before. I think my favorite thing is peanut butter balls. They are easy to grab, good protein boost, and fill me up until I can set baby down to eat something else.

  16. Heather Moll says:

    I remember forcing myself to eat during those early weeks after my daughter was born as I was so tired I didn’t want to do anything but thankfully we were given so many delicious meals from friends that I didn’t have to cook a supper meal for a month. It was awesome. One of my favourite meals were these lettuce wraps a friend brought over. I still think about them.

  17. Martha Artyomenko says:

    This is a great post! Often postpartum mothers just survive, and it is nice to figure out some simple things that taste good and are easy to make!
    A memorable meal postpartum was something my friend made me. She made me a chicken quesadilla, but she sprinkled it with garlic and had home cooked chicken breast, cheese, garlic powder and spoon of sour cream in a tortilla and browned it a little in a pan in some olive oil. It probably was not the healthiest, but it was so good….I thought about it for years. 12 years actually!

  18. My favorite postpartum snack was a hearty muffin–one with whole wheat, oats, carrots, raisins, apples, and walnuts. Lots of good nutrition and fiber and easy to eat one-handed while nursing!

  19. After having my sons, I could not wait to eat sushi again…that was one of the most memorable post-partum meals I definitely had! 🙂

  20. I’m pregnant with my first, so no stories, but this would be really helpful for postpartum!

  21. one of my besties is expecting twins and i’d love to give her that book!

  22. No babies here, but I know someone who could use this book!

  23. Great post with tons of helpful information. Thank you Aimee!
    Steak dinner brought to us when we came home with our firstborn is something I still remember, nine years later.

  24. Great advice and recipes ! I’m expecting #4 in November and still don’t think I have it all figured out. What a great help this would be!!!

  25. After my baby was born, my Dad stayed with us to help. I appreciated it when he prepared trays of fruits and vegetables. So easy to snack on and so nutritious. But most of all, I appreciated the love he prepared them with.

  26. I didn’t do much in the way of post-partum tidying up my jiggly body and 2.5 years on I certainly do regret it. I did eat bowls and bowls of oatmeal with maple syrup or honey and sliced fruit on top to kick up my milk supply.

    I’d love to pass this book onto my lovely friend who’s expecting a baby soon.

  27. I remember getting so many brownies (made from a mix) that after several pans arrived at my house we just started throwing them away. (That sounds so ungrateful…we weren’t, just needed something FRESH!)

  28. After my first was born we had no meals brought to us and I stressed and mostly ate warm-n-serve stuff from Costco. After receiving meals for my 2nd, I knew the blessing it was and began a ministry at my church to help all the new mamas. Three years later and I can’t tell you how many families our church has helped with “just” food! We are due to deliver baby #5 and have come to rely on the assistance! What a great idea for a book geared just towards this oh-so-important, but often neglected time frame! Thanks!

    Oh, and a question on the recipe – cuz YES, it’s an issue! (thanks for going there!) – do you include the orange and lemon rinds, or discard them? Thanks & Congrats! She’s gorgeous!!

  29. I’m getting ready to have my first baby in June, so Iwould LOVE to receive this book to get started on the right step!

  30. Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker says:

    I had a friend make eggplant parmesean. We ate it all, but I could never make it. I’m sure to screw it up!

  31. I won’t have my own postpartum stories until July, but I’d love this book to help prepare myself. I know I need all the help I can get. Congratulations, Aimee, and blessings on you and your sweet bundle!

  32. Cereal….not the best. Now we are expecting our second soon and we don’t have any family around and I think we need to do better than cereal this time around.

  33. Reading this article is informative..We can get an idea what to be given to a baby…Thanks for sharing your excellent idea…

  34. After giving birth to my third child, my midwives made me a gigantic fruit platter. There’s something about fruit cut into small pieces that makes me more likely to consume mass quantities, more so than if I was staring at pieces of whole fruit! haha

    I would LOVE to win this book. The subtitle speaks volumes to me.

  35. The best meal someone brought over after Kenna was born was a yummy pork tenderloin cooked with olive oil and garlic and a spinach salad. My mom also went and bought a bunch of veggies and cut them up for me to munch on. The worst was a pot pie that someone brought over – we could tell it was made with canned biscuit crust and canned cream soups. Most of that went into the trash. . .

  36. With baby #3 due in 8 weeks I’ve been stocking up with freezer with meals for dinner but just realized that I should have on hand go to snacks and things for lunches. Last time I devoured dried fruit and cheese sticks but now I’m thinking fresh fruit and nuts might be a better option. Thanks for the timely post!

  37. I remember that postpartum with my first I was never hungry so I didn’t eat much at all. And it took me a good four months before I felt like cooking again (I had a long, tough recovery). It felt like a chore coming up with high fiber foods and foods to aid in my recovery. Now I’m expecting baby #2 and I can see that a book like this would be very helpful. Thanks for the opportunity!

  38. j victoria says:

    what a great post! helpful to have some go-to’s when life is in that transitional phase with a newborn. we are expecting #4 in june! even experienced moms need a reminder about what’s good to eat, especially when life is busy with lots of little people in the house! my favorite meal that someone brought over with #2 was a cold pasta salad with cubed-chicken, cubed-cheese, olives, in a nice lite viniagrette dressing. lots of protein and filled us up! this book would be a great little resource! thanks again for the post!

  39. No postpartum stories yet, but I’m expecting my first in June so this book would be super timely for me!

  40. My husband and I are trying for our first so I’m very interested in all things pregnancy and baby right now. This sounds incredible and honestly something that I hadn’t really thought of. Now it’s something I’m thinking about!

  41. It was wonderful that people stepped up and brought meals for us after the birth of our daughter. I wish so many of them hadn’t been smothered in canned creamed soup! I’m gluten intolerant, so that meant no dinner for me (I had backup food, so no worries, and was just glad not to feed the rest of the family), but some of the casseroles were so salty and processed that my husband and son wouldn’t eat them either. Fresh fruit and veggies and lean meats would have been lovely (and easy!).

  42. As I am expecting the arrival of my first in just a few weeks, this is really great timing 🙂 Thanks!

  43. My favorite “meals” we had been given after returning home were pre-portioned fruit, nuts, veggies and seeds. These were easy to eat or add to meals!

  44. I am due in August with baby number one and would love insight on how to eat during breastfeeding and recovery. Thank you!

  45. Since I have yet to have my first postpartum meal (baby is due in 6 days though!) I can’t comment on a meal, but I’d love a chance at winning the book! Thank you and congratulations!

  46. I was blessed with so many healthy and delicious meals after my baby came. My sister-in-law made up some elk lasagna with extra spinach thrown in for fiber. It was so good I ate it for breakfast several times! My Mom made me some homemade bread and soup with lean beef, kale, potatoes, etc. Another friend brought me chicken spinach calzones that were to died for. So glad I have friends who understand the need for super nutrient packed food after delivery!

  47. I am afraid I did not handle it very well being alone at home until my husband comes home I often found myself starving. I tried to eat a lot of fruits and salads but I definetly have to work on eating regularly.

  48. Just had a baby four weeks ago; my favorite meal was noodles with beef, filling and yummy!

  49. sounds like an excellent book – I remember drinking lots of orange juice – good or bad I don’t know….

  50. Sesame Chicken broth!

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