When I became a doula, it was important to me to support women in the…
You just spent the last 10 months giving vital nutrients to your growing baby. Your placenta worked diligently to extract everything needed for your little one to develop. And then you gave birth: a marathon of physical stress on your body, coupled with the loss of blood.
The average amount of blood lost during a vaginal birth is about 2 cups and the average amount lost during a cesarean birth is about twice that.* When you mix in breastfeeding (if you’re lactating) – which also extracts nutrients from your body – sleep deprivation, and the unpredictable ride of adjusting to your new role, your body is utterly depleted and needs quality nutrients to keep up.
So, how does a new mother know what to feed herself when she is so busy learning how to care for her baby? So many of us are completely clueless about the nutrients we’ve lost let alone how to regain them. Which isn’t our fault, because unfortunately our healthcare system and our healthcare providers give little to no guidance about postpartum healing.
And so, we wind up eating whatever is convenient. Oftentimes foods that cause inflammation, deplete our nutrients more, or we simply eat too little. We hear rumors of oats and brewer’s yeast supporting milk production. That bone broth is apparently good for everything (it actually is). And that we should drink a lot of water.
But what should you really be consuming on a daily basis? This article is designed to help you nourish yourself accurately postpartum. To cut through the noise and help make this easy.
What To Favor:
- WATER: Everyone is in agreement that staying hydrated is a top priority. Electrolytes help you rehydrate after birth and stay hydrated during lactation, physical recovery, and help maintain smooth digestion (I mean easy poops if that seemed confusing).
- WARM FOOD: Warm (in both temperature and spice) support easy digestion to allow your body to absorb the much needed nutrients with less effort. You need that energy for your recovery and caring for your baby!
- HIGH-QUALITY PROTEIN: If you are a meat-eater, high-quality animal products are a phenomenal source of protein, iron, collagen, and more to help drive your recovery and tissue repair.
- STEWS, BROTHS, & SOUPS: Bone broths, stews, soup, and curries are a great way to replace the vital nutrients you lost during pregnancy and birth, support your postpartum recovery, and also hydrate.
- FRUITS & VEGGIES: Lots of leafy greens, seasonal fruits, and veggies can help reduce inflammation, increase fiber, and hydration. Cooked is preferred as we want to do everything we can to promote easy digestion.
- GRAINS: Oats, rice, wheat, quinoa, amaranth, millet. Load up on carbs to support lactation and easy elimination (pooping).
- HEALTHY FATS: Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and full fat dairy. Also meat and eggs as they provide fat, protein, choline, iron to support your recovery and replenishment.
What to Avoid:
- FROZEN OR COLD FOODS & DRINKS: Your body has to work overtime to digest cold foods which is why it’s better to eat warm foods. This way you can save your energy for when you need it (middle of the night feedings).
- RAW VEGETABLES: salads and especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts as they are hard to digest and we don’t need to make anything harder right now.
- DEHYDRATING BEVERAGES: Think coffee, black tea, sugary drinks, or alcohol.
Here is a delicious and deeply nourishing idea for anytime you make a meal for yourself– or have someone in your life make it for you. This is one of my all time favorite go-to meals postpartum for myself and my clients.
Meet, The Nourishing Hash Bowl
The idea behind a hash is to feel confident and get creative with what you already have in your house. This helps to limit food waste and to use what you’ve got without overthinking it.
What you’ll need:
- Broth: vegetable, chicken, or bone broth.
- A grain of your choice: I love using quinoa, rice, amaranth, farro, I really love them all.
- Cooked vegetables: I always include a leafy green because that’s who I am. Any vegetables you have and like. These can be roasted, sauteed, steamed, grilled, however you like. But make sure to use well cooked vegetables.
- Toppings: Seeds, nuts, seaweed, herbs. Whatever you have and sounds delish.
- Protein of your choice: bean, chicken, sausage, tempeh, salmon, eggs.
A great example (if I do say so myself):
- Sautee veggies and legumes (if using) in a ½ cup of broth.
- Stir in egg or two, if using
- Chia seeds to soak up excess liquid and to add fiber and protein.
- Toss in the spinach or greens until finely wilted.
- Add liquid aminos or any other seasoning.
- Once warmed, remove from heat and top with hemp seeds, fresh herbs and avocado.
- Top with an additional protein of your choice.