Nourishing Meal Ideas For New Mums
As a new mom, the first few weeks after birth can pass by in a hazy blur. You spend your days and nights getting to grips with feeding, coping with interrupted sleep and getting to know your newborn baby. Keeping track of what you’re eating and making sure that it’s food that will benefit you can quickly slide down the list of priorities. Especially if you haven’t prepared or thought in advance about it.
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Consider how much work your body has done to grow and birth your baby; postpartum is the time when you can recover and nurture your body. With a little preparation and forethought, you can ensure that you are eating healthy food that is nourishing and healing. Want some inspiration on what to cook? Read on for some delicious meal suggestions that are perfect for postpartum life.
What foods help new mums to heal after birth?
Ideally, you should eat a variety of fresh foods at regular intervals, trying to make sure you’re eating at least five portions a day. As your body recovers after birth, it is particularly important that you eat foods rich in protein, antioxidants, fibre and iron to aid healing.
Protein and antioxidants
After birth, especially if you have had a caesarean section, an episiotomy or stitches, it’s important to try and make sure you’re eating food that contains these nutrients which help the body to heal.
Antioxidant sources include vitamin C, found in bell peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits. Berries are also a fantastic source of antioxidants too, so snacking on strawberries, blueberries and blackberries is a great idea.
Eating enough fibre after birth can aid digestion and make those first bowel movements easier, especially if you’re also eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Wholegrain foods such as pasta, rice and bread are sources of fibre. Beans and pulses are too - they’re actually both sources of fibre and protein.
Taking in enough iron can help restore any low iron levels due to blood loss during pregnancy and birth. Look to foods like tofu and red meat for high iron levels, spinach too. Try to pair your iron source with vitamin C to aid absorption by the body. I love sautéed garlicky collard greens with a squeeze of lemon juice over the top!
Stuck for ideas of healthy and delicious meals that are perfect for postpartum? I’ve got a few recipes to inspire you...
Postpartum meal ideas
This is THE most delicious meal. Warming, flavorsome and nourishing. Made with wholewheat pasta, you can include as many vegetables that you like. My go-to vegetables are zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onion, eggplant, spinach and bell pepper. Packed with flavour and the goodness of the vegetables you include, it’s too good to miss!
This is definitely a meal that you can batch cook and make several servings out of. It’s filling as it is on its own, but you can always add naan bread as a side dish. It’s so tasty, easy to prepare and easy to eat with one hand. The quinoa counts towards your intake of wholegrain and the turmeric can also help towards your recovery too.
Served with wholegrain rice this goulash is full of beans and high in fibre and protein. The smoky flavor of the paprika pairs well with the tomato base. You can buy a tin of mixed beans, or you can add whatever tinned beans you prefer. I frequently use kidney beans, haricot beans and chickpeas.
Preparation is key
In my previous blog post, I recommended preparing for postpartum life by organizing, or asking a friend or relative to organise, a meal train. This is a series of meals delivered to you over the course of two weeks or more by friends and family. These meals can relieve you or your partner of the need to cook everyday and can still be fresh and full of goodness.
Whilst you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy, why not think about batch-cooking a few meals? When that ‘nesting’ feeling kicks in it can be a great way to practically prepare for life with your new baby. Cook fresh and then freeze, so you only have to reheat and serve.
Hiring a Postnatal Doula means you will have that vital support after birth too. Many postnatal doulas prepare meals as part of their services. They will have a number of go-to postpartum meals that they are happy to make as part of their time with you. Search online to find a Postnatal Doula near you.
When cooking for my postnatal clients, I like to make meals which can be served in bowls or eaten one-handed with a spoon or fork. As a new mum, this means you have the option of eating whilst holding or feeding your baby – just be careful not to spill your food onto them!
Don’t be afraid to stock up on pre-cooked pouches of ingredients like rice, grains and beans. It’ll save a lot of time in preparing your meal, but you’ll still get the nutritional benefit. Likewise with tinned fruit and vegetables - there’s often no difference in nutritional value.
Staying hydrated will also help you recover and feel fresh, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Try to drink around two litres/half a gallon a day. Buy a water bottle with a flip top or straw that you can operate with one hand. If you’re feeding or cuddling your baby you won’t be able to use both hands to open a bottle top.
Look after yourself
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Asking family and friends to prepare some meals for you or preparing them yourself and freezing them is a simple but highly effective way of ensuring it’s one less thing you have to think about. It also means more time for those sweet newborn cuddles and putting your feet up.
As a new mom, life can be made so much easier after birth if you don’t have to think about what is for dinner or spend too much time preparing it. And in order to heal well from birth, it’s important to be eating a range of fresh fruit and vegetables and ensuring that you’re eating sources of protein, antioxidants, iron and fibre.
Grace Williams is Mama to three girls and lives in Devon, UK. She's been a Postnatal Doula for almost 4 years and is passionate about supporting people to find their new rhythm of life after birth. Grace is also a doula trainer, growing the number of postnatal doulas in the UK and beyond. You can find her at www.thepostnataldoula.co.uk