Did you know that postnatal nutrition is every bit as important to your health and wellbeing as prenatal nutrition? Your body has a big job to do as it heals from labor and delivery. Postpartum healing requires even more energy and attention if you had a traumatic birth, had a C-section and for mothers who are nursing.
Your body has gone through incredibly dramatic transitions over the past eight- to nine-months.
· Blood volume, that nearly doubled during pregnancy, returns to its normal levels.
· Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and relaxin (the hormone that supported ligament/joint flexibility for labor and delivery) drop dramatically.
· Your newborn infant’s need to eat, snuggle and be as close to you as possible means interrupted sleep, or difficulty taking care of your needs, which takes its toll over time.
Eating well during this critical healing time supports all of these transitions, lessening their overall effects on your state of mind, body and heart.
Eating Well Helps You (and your partner!) Be the Best Parents You Can Be
The busy life of a new mom can make it feel like meals are a thing of the past, and grab-and-go snacks are the only option. This may be true, but the key is to ensure the majority of the foods you consume are as healthy and nutritious as possible.
By doing so, you and your partner (yes! your partner needs to eat well, too since s/he is your first line of support) are as healthy, well-fed and as well-rested as possible. Not surprisingly, since our bodies are a holistic sum of their parts, eating well supports you in multiple ways, including increasing mental alertness, patience and energy stores.
What Does Eating Well For the Post-Partum Mom Mean?
In order to learn what “eating well” means for the post-partum mom, I interviewed my friend and well-respected Holistic Chef and Nutrition Educator, Laura Leff. She is founder and owner of Chef Leff, specializing in preparing delicious and healthy meals for postpartum families in the Bay Area.
Transparent Note: I am happy to refer Laura’s wisdom and talents. Hiring her to prepare meals is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, your baby and your family, as you settle in to your new routine.
Here is what Chef Laura has to say about what it means to eat well, specifically during the postpartum transition.
Eat as local, seasonal and as pesticide/chemical-free as possible
Not surprisingly, one of the best things you can do for your body is to eat foods that are grown and raised without pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics. This keeps those harmful ingredients out of your body – and away from your baby (especially if you’re nursing). Going organic supports your household’s health and wellbeing for a lifetime.
Seasonal foods are at their peak nutrition
Not only do seasonal foods taste better, they are also at their peak nutritional levels. Once you get used to eating seasonally, you’ll look forward to your favorite fruits and veggies when they come back into season.
Support local farmers and purveyors of meat and dairy
Supporting local farmers via the “local produce” sections in your favorite grocery store, or (better yet) your nearest Farmer’s Market goes a long way towards building a healthier and more sustainable food system. There, you get to speak directly to the growers, and have the opportunity to sample and purchase heirloom or unique products you won’t find in stores.
Chef Laura’s Top Tips for Postpartum Nutrition and Wellness
Here are some of Chef Laura’s Top Tips for postpartum nutrition and wellness:
· Focus on eating soups, stews and warm meals. Your body is in a “cold” state as a result of the aforementioned drop in blood volume. Warm meals help it ride that transition with better balance.
· Seaweed is rich in micro-minerals your body needs after birth, like phosphorous, zinc, iodine, potassium, calcium iron and magnesium (magnesium helps to support relaxation and stress reduction, helpful for any family with a new baby in the house!). In addition to sushi rolls (veggie or with sustainably sourced fish), dry or soaked seaweeds are a great addition to soups or can be eaten like chips (salty kombu, yum!), sprinkled on salads. etc.
· Red meat is a wonderful source of iron, but make sure any meat you consume is grass fed or pasture raised for optimal Omega 3s.
· Smaller, cold-water fish is best (mackerel or sardines), but Click Here to read the APA’s recommendations for safe fish consumption.
· Focus on soups and stews. In addition to being warming, they store well, are easily reheated and pack a lot of nutritional punch in smaller, quicker servings when you’re pressed for time.
· If you are lactose intolerant (or baby seems to be cow-dairy sensitive) start trying different goat dairy products that are easier for humans to digest.
· Focus on anti-inflammatory spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon) and warming spices like cardamom and curry, that boost circulation and catalyze nutrient absorption.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Keep water bottles handy anywhere you tend to hang out (nightstand, coffee or end table, kitchen island, in the car, etc.). Hydration is so important and nursing moms need to drink two-times more water than normal.
Plan Ahead: The Family Who Eats Together Bonds Together
While postpartum nutrition focuses on the mom, the partner and family are just as important. Just as you need to plan ahead for your birth, now’s a good time to do some planning for Life After Birth. Deciding how postpartum meals will happen ahead of time, you’re more likely to have plenty of easy-to-grab or heat meals and snacks on hand.
· Eating together offers a time to bond, talk about the day and be more present with one another
· The better nourished your partner and family members are, the better able they are to support you and the baby
· Cook and freeze as much as you can before the baby is born
· Take advantage of free, online services like Meal Train so friends and family can support you with healthy, nutritious meals based on your preferences. Gift certificates to favorite, healthy restaurants or meal services just like Chef Laura’s make wonderful baby shower gift ideas.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends and family – it’s their pleasure and honor to support you any way they can.
How Do Professional Postpartum Meal Services Work?
Chef Laura provides weekly meals that supplement your food intake. They help to nourish clients and allow them to focus on what’s most important – bonding with their new baby and settling in to a new family dynamic. There is a positive mental and emotional benefit to knowing you’re getting what you need to heal and be well.
1. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the service, and fill out an intake form for food preferences/sensitivities, etc.
2. Approve Chef Laura’s menu, after which she’ll do the shopping and come in to cook on the morning of the agreed upon day. Cooking typically requires about 4 hours, and she leaves the kitchen ship-shape when she’s finished. Afterward, you have a fridge/freezer loaded with labeled meals and sides (enough for three full meals and some extra) – along with any heating instructions/recommendations.
3. Enjoy these services for as little as one-month, or as long as six-months.
One of the things Chef Laura loves most about coming into her clients’ homes to cook is that she knows the smell of delicious food being prepared is healing all by itself, whetting new mothers’ appetites and preparing their body to be nourished.
Intrigued to try Laura's services? Book a one week trial and enjoy 20%off when you mention Lemonshoots' blogpost. She services cities within 25 miles of Richmond, CA, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Walnut Creek. You can learn more about her at https://chefleff.com/, or give her a call directly at 510-560-4073, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.