by Leanne Sedentopf, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Doula
It’s an amazing thing motherhood. At first everything went smoothly, however once the sleep deprivation hit me and my husband was back to work, my own need for nutrition and nourishment flew out the window. I paid the price months later when my hormones were still way out of whack and mood and energy levels were at an all-time low. So, after learning the hard way I’ve made it my mission to spread the word and support other women to remember that they need to eat well and nourish themselves as well as baby in those early years (and beyond!)
During the postpartum period the last thing you need to worry about is eating any exact diet. Be gentle with yourself and just focus on nutrient-dense foods. These are foods that contain the maximum amount of nutrition with the least amount of empty calories from sugar or unhealthy fats. Nutrient-dense foods include; eggs, fish, meats (organic if possible), plain yogurt or kefir, nuts and seeds, nut and seed butter, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, avocados, vegetables in general, coconut oil, herbal teas (nettle and oat straw in-particular). It’s easy to get enough nutrition for you and baby if you focus on these foods. The key is to enlist help in the early days to keep ready to eat food and snacks in the fridge at all times. Your partner, family, friends and even a Postpartum Doula can and should be helping in this area.
Your body is amazing at ensuring your baby gets everything he/she needs from your breastmilk, so it’s not necessary to worry too much about baby’s nutrition if you are breastfeeding. However, if you are not getting adequate intake of vitamins and minerals your body will start to feel the toll. It’s important for your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing that you are being properly nourished. You need to heal and your body needs to re-set itself. The fluctuations in hormones and sleep deprivation can lead to mental and emotional distress and can be lessened through proper nutrition.
Try to plan and prepare meals for at least a month while you are still pregnant. This can include preparing freezer meals ahead of time. In the last few weeks of pregnancy make it habit to double all recipes and put half away for later. This includes things like muffins, granola bars, soups, stews, etc. Ask for friends to provide freezer meals/snacks or gift certificates to your favourite take out restaurants in lieu of other shower gifts. For second or third babies some women opt for a “fill my freezer” shower instead of a traditional shower. Snacks and meals that you enjoy whether hot or cold and can be eaten one handed are a great idea as you will be holding and/or nursing your baby A LOT in the beginning ~ this means spaghetti may not be your first choice!
One of my favourite one handed meal or snack suggestions are smoothies. You can pack a whole lot of nutrition into them, they can be made in minutes and you can sip it while snuggling with your baby. Or, you can freeze it in popsicle molds for super nutritious frozen snacks.
Here is a delicious green smoothie recipe that will also support you in the days and weeks following birth (or anytime really) as it is filled with hormone supportive fats and protein and vitamin C to support postpartum healing.
Berry Balanced Smoothie
2 cups organic baby spinach or mixed baby lettuces
2 cups filtered water – add more after blending to achieve a thinner consistency
1 avocado (peeled and pitted)
2 cups frozen mixed berries (or use any combination of your favourite berries. If using fresh berries add 3-5 ice cubes to get it nice and cold)
2 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
Blend, serve, enjoy!