You have probably noticed that fending off the shoulds of parenting can be a challenge. It is for most of us in this culture. Your parents, your neighbor, the doctor, the cashier at the hardware store, your sister, your sister’s sister-in-law…. everyone has opinions about the right way to do things, not least so OURSELVES, right?
It’s easy to set really high expectations around all things parenting. The stakes are high! We care A LOT.
So…another deep breath. Here’s an invitation – let nutrition in the postpartum be something you celebrate 🎉 when it goes well and something you are able to find gentleness with yourself around when it’s less than optimal. If you’re in a position to do some preparation beforehand, great. Any effort and intentionality you can put into feeding yourself and family before baby arrives will go a long way towards ease in the postpartum! AND, here are some tips that can help get you through regardless of where you are in the game.
Postpartum Meal Prep – The First Week
Make a basic 1-week meal plan (or use/modify this sample) and put in a highly visible place.
If possible, make a grocery list that includes all the ingredients for that meal plan and (whatever else you need on hand; wipes, coffee, ibuprofen, chocolate….). This way any support person can step in, check the plan and help prep a meal or make a grocery run. If it’s working for you, use the meal plan on repeat for several weeks.
KISS – Keep It Simple, Superstar! It can be really helpful to use canned soup, pre-washed or chopped produce, frozen vegetables, shortcuts like a rotisserie chicken, pre-made or frozen baked goods, etc.
Double the recipe whenever you cook (and ask friends/family to); freeze soups/casseroles/your favorites in family meal-sized portions
Ask a friend or family member to set up a meal train. There are several free websites that can help organize these with minimal effort such as: Take Them A Meal (www.takethemameal.com), Meal Train (www.mealtrain.com), Give Inkind (www.giveinkind.com).
Order your groceries to be shopped (and potentially delivered) for you (from home in your PJs, without kid(s) in tow!). A quick Google search will tell you which grocery stores in your area offer curbside pick up or delivery. It can cut some stress to have an order under your belt before baby comes. This will give you the opportunity to create a log-in, and be familiar with the system for pick up or delivery and feel more proficient with the whole process.
Have your favorite take out menus on hand or saved on-line.
Remember to plan for hydration. Many cultures around the world and through time have recommended warm or hot beverages for the postpartum. (You’re not alone if this is not appealing to you or is just different.) There are many nutritious options for keeping your body warm and hydrated that are low-cost and relatively low-effort. Steep your favorite herbal teas in a large jar of HOT water for 20 minutes and put in the refrigerator. Use this like a concentrate and add 1/2 cup (or whatever concentration you enjoy) to your glass of room temp water. If herbal teas aren’t familiar raspberry leaf, nettles, ginger, fennel and chamomile all have added benefits and are safe for the postpartum/nursing/birthing person. Pour a glass of room temp water and add a muddled or torn slice of cucumber, lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, apple, mint leaves or your own combo to give variety and inspire you to keep sipping.
Food is an essential and personal part of life. Feeding yourself in the postpartum is the same as with any aspect of parenting – it is important to do what works for you! Notice what makes you feel good/nurtured/satisfied and keep doing it!