Mama’s gotta eat!
One of the biggest challenges once a baby comes along is making time to eat. Breakfast becomes toast that’s gone cold. Lunch is never guaranteed and dinner? By that time, everyone is so exhausted that a pizza delivery becomes a gourmet option. Couple time-poor nutrition with sleep deprivation and you’ve got the perfect storm for exhaustion, anxiety, breastfeeding troubles, slow recovery and a whole host of other physical and emotional issues all too common for mamas.
Here are some nutritional tips to keep you thriving and not just surviving during this precious but stressful post-natal period.
Cuppa Bone Broth?
Buy the cot. Write your birth plan. Make bone broth and freeze it. One of the BEST postnatal foods for mama and baby is bone broth. Pregnancy taxes the mother’s nutrient reserves and bone broth is a delicious way to take in a boat load of nutrients, like calcium and magnesium in highly absorbable form. In turn, bone broth supports the healthy and plentiful creation of breastmilk and keeps you hydrated. Plus, it is super rich in collagen to keep your skin glowing and to help the loose skin retain elasticity. Use it to make soups or drink a cuppa whilst feeding or at night if the sugar beast strikes. One of the main reasons for sugar cravings is nutrient deficiency so a well-timed cup of bone broth can go a long way in curbing the intake of empty calories. I like to encourage mamas to stock the freezer with as much as they can before the birth; and afterwards to fix one day a week to replenish the stock.
Fat Is Your Friend
Let’s face it. The postnatal body is difficult to accept and short maternity leaves mean that the pressure is on to squeeze back into our regular clothing ASAP. But cutting fat out is not going to help breastfeeding or weight loss. This doesn’t mean you have a free pass to the all-you-can eat french fry buffet. It does mean though that healthy fats like salmon, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds should be included in your daily diet. Healthy fats facilitate nutrient absorption, boost milk supply and help regulate your hormones faster. Hormone regulation is the key to sustainable weight loss. So keep tucking in to the avo mash, add some coconut oil to your smoothies and enjoy a salmon salad with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. Getting your pantry stocked with these items and having a ready-made shopping list for your husband and helper to tackle on a weekly basis is key.
Folate Is Fenomenal
Folate isn’t just important during the first few months of pregnancy – it’s important through pregnancy and definitely during the postnatal period. This is the time when energy creation becomes key to make breastmilk and keep from keeling over from sleep deprivation. Spinach, beetle greens, arugula and other dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate, magnesium and iron. Incorporating these foods into you daily diet is really going to help boost your energy levels and even help maintain a positive outlook on those days when you’ve been up all night.
Relax With a Cup of Tea
Specifically, I mean a cup of fenugreek or fennel tea. The one to avoid is ginseng as it can inhibit prolactin production. Both of these herbs are magic for breastmilk production. Fennel is a great digestive aid and can even help a colicky baby. Coupled with a diet rich in fibre from veggies and fruits, these teas can also help ease constipation, which is often a big issue after labour.
Have a Pudding and Eat it to
And speaking of keeping regular, here’s one of my favourite postnatal recipes for a chia pudding. It’s delicious, nutrient-rich and full of anti-inflammatory healthy fats to fill your belly with love and keep you detoxing, pain-free on a daily basis. It takes minutes to prep and if you leave it in the fridge overnight, you have a yummy breakfast waiting for you in the morning!
Mama’s Chia Delight Pudding
- 2 cups coconut milk or favourite unsweetened nut milk
- 6 tbspn chia seeds
- 2 tbsp of Vital Protein Grass-Fed collagen
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 tspn raw honey
Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for a minute or two until completely smooth. Pour mixture into a glass tupperware and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to set. In the morning, take out your portion and add some berries and crushed nuts.
Having a baby is stressful and the first thing to go (apart from sleep!) is good eating habits. It’s important to plan to eat, in the same way we plan for the arrival of a baby. Stocking the freezer and pantry and organising a weekly shopping list can really help minimise stress and help you reach for foods that are going to contribute to energy creation, healthy weight loss and a stronger recovery.