How to Plan Ahead, Make it Easy, and Postpartum Nutrition
We do a lot while we are pregnant to make sure that we are keeping ourselves and the baby growing inside our belly nice and healthy. We take a lot of extra care about the foods we eat and how much we eat, we monitor how much physical activity we participate in and are careful not to overexert ourselves, and we make note of every single little change our body is going through (for better or for worse). And because we have a very noticeable reminder of our state of being residing in our midsection, others take extra special care of us as well.
So, why is it so hard to remember to take care of your body after baby has arrived? Some of the biggest challenges for balancing mind and body for a new momma can arrive in this "fourth trimester," months 10 to 12 right after baby is born. Mostly because there is a helpless little human relying on you for life (and distracting your loved ones from your own needs with their cuteness). Also, you’re too tired to be held responsible for anything more than keeping said tiny human alive.
But here’s the kicker, keeping that tiny human alive and well means that YOU need to be well. So you MUST take care of your body.
YOUR Fourth Trimester
As you’ve prepared for baby’s arrival, you’ve heard a lot about the fourth trimester for baby. The adjustments he’ll be making as he enters this new environment and learns how to navigate his surroundings. But don’t forget it’s your fourth trimester too! This is a hugely transitional time for both of you, and while it seems so natural to focus on the well being of that sweet baby in your arms, it is also essential that you get the care and support that you need. You just created life! You’re body is going through yet another major change, and although it seems obvious, you must remember to take care of your body.
This is why I think “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” should be mandatory reading for all moms-to-be and the people who love them (and you should keep reading it postpartum). This beautiful book helps remind us of ancient traditions around the world of nurturing and caring for mothers during this major transitional period, along with very practical postpartum nutrition tips. As you read, you get a sense of the sacredness of motherhood, the wisdom within some of these traditions, and the importance of treating yourself with the love and warmth you’ve earned.
Rest if of course so important, but that’s the part we all hear about. So much of the wisdom in “The First Forty Days” is centered around eating and postpartum nutrition, which totally makes sense because (much like baby) most of your time in the fourth trimester will be spent sleeping and eating. Even if you don’t use a single recipe provided in the book (although you definitely should), at the very least the wisdom provided and stories shared will get you in the mindset of self love, self care, and eating well.
What to Eat Postpartum
I’m not here to advise anyone about the dos and don’ts of postpartum nutrition. I am no expert, just a new mom who recently emerged from her fourth trimester. There are other sources and websites out there with way more qualified people on the subject (breastfeeding moms, check out the 10to12 Pinterest board on the subject).
What I can tell you is about my own experience, and I wanted comfort food. I craved hearty, belly warming meals I already knew that I loved. I wanted my favorite recipes from mom. I didn’t care if I ate the same thing 3 days in a row, as long as it was easy (preferably already made) and delicious. Soups, stews, casseroles, pastas....mmmmmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it (but also still breastfeeding at 6 months, so always hungry anyway). I didn’t want to think about meals, or to try to cook anything myself, but I wanted to be able to eat something wonderful whenever I was hungry.
How to Have Exactly What You Want, When You Want It
This requires a little planning ahead, a small army of support (or at least a mom or best friend), and/or great food delivery options.
Plan Ahead: If you have the time before baby arrives, make some meals ahead of time so they will be waiting for you when you get home from the hospital.
The week before my little man was born, I was home from work on maternity leave and nesting in a major way. I did a deep clean of the house, made all the final touches in the nursery, cleaned and sterilized all the baby bottles (even though I was planning on breastfeeding), and then went to work stocking my fridge and freezer. I shopped for things I knew would be good for a few weeks, and threw a few precooked meals in the freezer. I had some OSSO Good Bone Broth in the freezer, which I thawed to make a big pot of chicken & rice that I packed with veggies then froze in two separate containers. I also made an easy pasta dish that went directly in the freezer as well.
Let Others Feed You: They will offer, they want to help, and this is a very practical way to be loved and supported.
I have a wonderful friend who had her baby two months before I did. Despite this, she showed up a few days before I gave birth with individual containers equaling about eight total meals worth of two different soups. She had also read “The First Forty Days” and used two recipes from the book. These also went in the freezer (which was reaching capacity at this point).
I’m also lucky enough to have my mother nearby, so she offered to cook for us a lot during those first weeks. She knows my favorites, and there was always enough for leftovers. Keeping the fridge stocked with meals that did not require me cooking (the best kind of meals).
Don’t Underestimate Food Delivery: Today you can get anything delivered and now is the perfect time to take advantage.
Maybe you don’t have a small tribe of family and friends nearby (or maybe you don’t trust them to cook for you). Maybe baby surprised you by arriving to the party early and you didn’t have time to plan meals in advance. There’s still plenty of helpful options available to you. Just turn to your favorite food delivery app (Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, just to name a few) and don’t forget to order enough so that you will have leftovers. If you live in Los Angeles, you can get postpartum nutrition delivered to your door from Motherbees which was created by the same hearts behind “The First Forty Days”.
There are lots of ways to take care of your body during your fourth trimester. Everyone will tell you to sleep (see my previous post about alternative ways to find rest postpartum). Your doctor will tell you to take it easy as you recover from birth and will give you all the details you need for your physical care, but don’t underestimate the power of a full stomach. I was so hungry my entire pregnancy, I honestly ate my way through it, and my fourth trimester was no exception.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll skip a nap before you skip a meal! But with the right amount of forward thought, you just might be able to do both before the baby wakes up. Signed, A New Momma