postpartum care

Protecting Postpartum

 

Everybody loves a squishy new baby. It’s almost irresistible to keep from wishing for the privilege to cuddle a weeks, days, or hours old newborn, who’s only just experiencing the big, wide world for the very first time. These tiny, precious lives leave us in such awe and wonder.

No doubt, you want to show off your little one, too. After all, this baby is yours; it’s you – in miniature form! It’s a miracle that you and your partner have made and brought into the world; the pride you feel is unexplainable.

It’s a fairly common cultural practice to expect that people will ask (or not) to visit you at your home or hospital in the early hours or days after baby is born. Whether it’s your closest friends or family, co-workers, or the most distant relative, it’s almost ritualistic to have a small parade of eager visitors, waiting in line to get their first look at your precious, wee babe.  

But guess what? This is your time. This is your moment. These are your first hours and days of passage into parenthood. It’s brief, it’s intimate, and it’s yours, so allow yourself to consider what’s best for you!

Giving careful thought to when and who you welcome into your space in the early days is important for a few reasons:

                The first hour of your baby’s is the most critical time of bonding and nursing.

This isn’t to say that you can’t bond or breastfeeding well beyond this point, but there is significant evidence that this time matters.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a learning curve, and time for privacy, rooming in and having space to learn this dance can be critical to your success.

Having visitors and learning to latch a baby to the breast can be so challenging. If you want visitors in the early days, allow yourself to retreat to feed the baby if you need to, or keep your visits brief and don’t be afraid to ask people to leave when you need some space.

Entertaining can cause undue pressure.

Are you going to feel pressured to entertain, provide food, or act as ‘host’ to anyone who comes by? If you don’t feel like you can have people in your home without feeling like a hostess, either ask them to wait until you’re ready, or draw clear expectations so you aren’t feeling the pressure.

You’ve just completed a marathon, followed by the biggest learning curve you’ll likely encounter in your lifetime; you need to time and space to rest!

Some cultures encourage women to rest and room-in with baby (with the exception of using the washroom, and joining in for some family/meal times), for 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS! Friends and family members will stop to bring food, healing teas, and help care for the house or the other children. Protecting the rest and healing of the mothers is of highest importance, and it’s reflected in the way they care for one another. Our North American culture might have a bit of a hard time wrapping our heads around that one, but perhaps we can learn something from them.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family what you need most from them. If you feel uncomfortable, ask your spouse or a friend to relay your post-partum wishes and needs…

  • Request that your friends and family to text or call ahead; no surprises means you’re in charge of the who and when.
  • Ask for nourishing meals or snacks; food, food and more food!
  • Make a list of chores that can be done around the house or in the yard when visitors come by.
  • Be clear that you’d like visits kept short, that way, when you’re ready for a nap or need to nurse, you can excuse yourself without feeling guilty.

This time is short; these fleeting first days?  You’ll never get them back. You won’t regret creating healthy boundaries for yourself that protect this precious time, giving you the space you need for your new family. 

Food Prep For a Stress-Free Postpartum

One of the simplest ways you can prepare for your postpartum period is by filling your freezer and pantry with nutritious snacks and meals that require the least amount of prep. Your early postpartum weeks should be spent baby-mooning; snuggling up, getting to know your new little person, and allowing your body and mind time to process your birth and heal. Hours spent cooking just doesn't fit the equation.  

Let's face it; snack and meal prep consumes a huge amount of time in our day. Having some quick fixes, frozen and ready to go, will save you time on your feet and a whole lot of undue stress. Better yet - your partner, or whoever you've enlisted to help you, can warm up the meals on hand and give more attention to the other things that need attending to, like preparing you a healing sitz bath , while brewing you a hot cuppa postpartum tea.

So here it is; our postpartum preparation food list:

Granola: We love this Chocolate Covered Katie granola recipe that you can add your own flare too. Amp it up with chia, walnuts, cashews or almonds for some extra protein, and generously sprinkle it on top of greek yogurt. This makes a filling breakfast or an easy snack. Multiply the batches and store it an airtight storage container or ziplock bags and you won't run out for weeks! (Tip: Seal up your ziplock bag and leave just enough room to poke a straw in. Suck out excess air through the straw and quickly pull out and seal to lock in the freshness.)

Galactagogue Cookies (Lactation Cookies): Galactagogues are substances that promote milk production to help increase your supply. While by no means necessary for successful nursing, it certainly doesn't hurt to enjoy nutritiously packed cookies that will help ensure your baby is getting all they need from your milk. This is our favorite tried and true lactation cookie recipe from Dr.Momma. 

Muffins: Yup, more snacks. Why? Because postpartum hunger can be something fierce! And with every snacky moment you'll be asking for water on the side. Your body is producing milk and nutrients for your hungry newborn and you're going to need your fill of food for both of you. This is another fabulous CCK recipe for Oatmeal Muffins. We've added blueberries or chocolate chips for something different, or you can enjoy them without. 

Smoothie Bags: Smoothies are a great way to pack loads of nutrition into a quick snack or meal, and as a bonus, they're a one-hander: easy to enjoy while feeding or snuggling. There are some great smoothie combo ideas here, or you can package up your own favorite combo, freeze them, and throw them in the blender with liquid when you're ready. My personal favorite is this chocolate-peanut butter smoothie:

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 whole banana
  • 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • Milk of your choice - enough to blend up to the consistency you prefer (I use as little as possible, I like mine milk-shake consistency =)

Precooked Ground Beef or Turkey: This will be your best friend. Get a few kilograms of ground meat and cook it all up (did you know you can do this in a crock-pot or the oven? Separate for different meals, and season appropriately for a variety of combinations:

  • Taco Turkey: Epicure makes a great low-sodium taco seasoning, or you can make a big batch with your own ingredients. 
  • Salt and Pepper: Plainly seasoned meat can be reserved for adding to a marinara for spaghetti or sprinkled on a cheese quesadilla for lunch. 
  • Beef with Hoisin Sauce: Rice bowls or lettuce wraps are a quick and easy favorite in our house. Make up a big batch of hoisin to add to your meat (store the extras in a glass container in the fridge). Defrost and warm up your meat, prepare sushi rice in your rice cooker, chop peppers, carrots, cilantro and green onion, and pile these ingredients on chopped romaine or lettuce wrap them instead. 

Soup: Soup, and more soup. There are so many combinations of delicious soup, so pick your favorites. We love this hearty chicken-vegetable soup, as well as this tortilla soup that is bursting with flavor. Divide large batches of your favorite soups into portions large enough to leave you with leftovers. 

Veggie+Bean Burritos: All you need on hand for these are wraps and some salsa (sour cream and guac go great too). We love this tasty burrito filling, but feel free to add whatever tickles your taste buds. If the carnivore in you can't handle the all-veggie, throw in some of your precooked taco turkey. 

Pizza Dough: Can't go without Friday night pizza night? No problem! Make up as much pizza dough as you can handle and divide it up and prepare for the freezer to add your toppings later. If you'r really keen, do your pizza up with sauce and toppings, ready to pop in the oven at a moments notice. 

What would you add to this list? What were your quick and easy postpartum, go-to meals that you enjoyed the most? We'd love to hear from you!