Many cultures around the world have long respected the importance of the post-partum period. It's a sacred time for healing and bonding, when the mother should be focused on herself and her newborn. Food plays a vital role in this process, assisting in your recovery and overall wellbeing.
Firstly, remember to eat and drink!
It may sound like a no-brainer, but often-times actually taking the time to eat and drink can be hard for many mothers in the post-partum period. Ensure you have access to nourishing foods you enjoy - stocking up beforehand is great, and then afterwards having family and friends do grocery runs helps, as does online shopping. When you're tired and busy looking after your newborn, time moves in different blocks.
You won't necessarily be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner like you did beforehand. Try to eat small amounts regularly, avoiding going for too long between meals, because that can lead to low-blood sugar levels and inhaling anything and everything you come across when hunger strikes. Staying hydrated is also very important, so keep water close by, such as next to the couch and your bed.
Quality bone broths and warming, spiced soups are wonderful additions to the postpartum diet. They're hydrating, easy to digest, anti-inflammatory, and assist in the restoration of the mother following childbirth. They're also really comforting. Porridge, chicken soup, stews and mugs of warm water are a good place to start.
Including foods in your diet that are abundant in valuable nutrients, such as avocado, nuts and seeds, oily fish, fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and extra virgin olive oil, will help to replenish and fuel mothers in the post-patum period. If eating animal products, whenever possible select pastured, free-range eggs and organic, grass-fed meat and dairy. A simple way to get in additional fats and protein into your diet is to incorporate hemp seeds by sprinkling them on porridge, smoothies and other meals.
High energy snacks
Caring for a newborn while recovering from childbirth can be incredibly exhausting. Snacking often can help keep your energy levels up without reaching for caffeine. Try date balls, nuts and seeds, boiled eggs, muesli bars and smoothies. Reheating small serves of main meals, such as porridge or soup, is a wonderful option, too. A nice pick-me-up beverage can be made by heating a cup of milk (whichever kind you desire), and adding raw cacao, honey, cinnamon and/or turmeric to taste.
Welcome offers of help
The newborn days can feel long but in reality, it's a brief period of your life, so don't be afraid to call upon your loved ones and ask for help. If you're lucky enough to have people around you who can lend a hand, allow them to do a grocery run or bring over a meal. They will no doubt love to be of service.
Heidi Sze is an Australian dietitian and accredited nutritionist specialising in pre- and postnatal nutrition. She has a daughter, Joan, and shares thoughts on food and her life as a mostly stay-at-home mum over on her blog, Apples Under My Bed. You can find her on Instagram @heidiapples, where she posts pictures of her days, including what she's eating and reflections on motherhood.
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