When I gave birth to my daughter, I was elated. I was relieved. I was over-the-moon in awe. I was dizzy with gratitude. I was to-the-bone tired. I was a little off-kilter with the shifting of my internal organs. I was happy. I was so so happy.
And I was hungry. I was so so HUNGRY.
All of my senses were heightened and the taste of food was more vivid, more intense. I craved rich, nourishing sustenance and warm, soothing liquids. I had a very supportive partner and he cooked some beautiful meals for me while I recovered and nursed, nursed, nursed our baby girl. Oh, but what I would’ve given for a visit from my dear friend Nichole (then, about 8,000 miles away) and a bottomless bowl of her bone broth chicken soup.
If we consider the exertion, blood and fluid loss, and internal logistical of shifting organs, we can easily conclude that post-partum food is most beneficial when it is deeply nourishing and easy on the digestive tract. So, if you’d like to love up a brand new mom during the first days of her babymoon, high quality made-with-love food is definitely the way to go.
Five Characteristics of the Best Post-Partum Food
• Hot-to-warm and moist/liquid
• Nutrient-dense (lots of good fats!)
• Easy-to-digest, spiced for digestion
• Enjoyable (of course!)
New Mom Foods to Avoid
I appreciate this succinct list from Alissa (Nourishing Meals) of foods to avoid during the post partum period. Her entire post Nourishing the New Mom is a great read. Please keep this list in mind when selecting your recipes and their ingredients.
• Dairy products
• Citrus fruit, especially juices
• Heavily spiced foods
• Raw garlic and onions
• Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
• Wheat / Gluten
• Refined soy products
• Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
• Prenatal vitamins (the iron may be irritating to baby)
So what’s a busy, loving friend or sister to make? I suggest these 3 sure-fire options:
Making (indeed, crafting) a nourishing homemade soup for a new mother is an amazing gift of gratitude for her laboring and mothering. Singing or praying while you chop, slice and stir will imbibe the meal with extra love. Delivering it in two-portion containers for easy storage and no-fuss stovetop reheating will give the extra gift of more time. Choosing organic, compassionately raised ingredients will support her well-being and that of the planet. Making extra will give your own body and your family’s a potent dose of deep nourishment as well.
Here are some no-miss instructions and recipes for your new mother chicken soup:
• Recovery and Renewal Bone Broth recipe and benefits from Authentic Parenting.
• Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Nourished Kitchen.
• Healing Chicken Ginger Soup from Nourishing Meals (pictured above).
Many healing foods advocates encourage us to serve only freshly-made hot meals to ourselves, and to new mothers especially. While my experience and studies concur that fresh food is the most nourishing, the reality of new mom (and dad/partner) life make heat-and-serve meals a total blessing. Slow cooker “freezer meals” can serve both intentions. It will be fresh the first time around, and the easily-frozen and reheated leftovers will keep giving as the busyness and fatigue of those new baby days takes its loving toll. If the couple has a slow cooker/crock pot, why not deliver a gallon Ziploc or two of a ready-to-make meal?
It is a good idea to check in with the mom or partner before taking this approach in case freezer space is at a premium. Stocking the freezer is on a lot of to-do lists for mothers-to-be, so it’s possible she and her family are stocked to the gills. The very best place to find a million slow cooker freezer meal ideas is Pinterest. If you’re not a pinner, start with 50 Slow Cooker Recipes from Chef in Training. Just stay mindful of those postpartum food characteristics and foods-to-avoid lists, and you’ll find something inspiring and perfect.
Check out Stephanie at Mama and Baby Love offers and her ayurvedic approach to postpartum recovery (with links to her yummy slow cooker meal recipes).
I happen to be thumbing through my mom’s September issue of Country Living the other day and they had a lovely bunch of recipes for casseroles. I loved their tips for freezing a casserole:
“Before assembling, line the baking dish with a large piece of greased aluminum foil. Prepare the casserole as instructed (not including the topping); freeze. Once frozen, lift from the dish and wrap with the excess foil. Label, wrap in plastic wrap, and return to the freezer.”
When you or your gift recipient are ready to bake, you can slip the foiled casserole into a baking dish to thaw overnight in the fridge, then bake and top accordingly. Voile! Even a kitchen-shy partner can bring your dish to life beautifully this way. Since casseroles tend to be thick and a less-liquid option, these dishes will be especially nourishing if served with a warm cup of bone broth.
Special Diet Considerations
While dairy and gluten are already to be avoided in the postpartum diet, if your mother-to-be is vegan, paleo, etc. or dealing with food intolerances or allergies, it will be especially important to stay sensitive to her needs. Here are some ideas for the mother-to-be with dietary restrictions:
Whichever way you go with your postpartum gift of nourishment, the effort will be appreciated and remembered. And just think! The food you make for a new mom will become part of her body and milk, and part of that baby, helping to carry them both into the rest of their lives together.
What a privilege!