We are in the home stretch! I’m so looking forward to welcoming our baby girl, but the end of pregnancy always feels so long yet nowhere near enough time to prepare for everything. Let’s face it, you never are fully prepared for motherhood. It just happens by the grace of God.
The nesting instinct has kicked in, and I’m going full board prep mood: Operation Baby Coming is in full swing!
The list of things to prepare for baby is pretty basic: clean, wash baby clothes, decorate nursery. But one thing I’ve always tried to have on hand before a baby comes is food. Lots and lots of food. All the food.
Eat All the Food
Immediately after delivery, I’m ravenous. And rightly so! Labor and delivery is a physically demanding experience that requires replenishing. Let’s face it, after labor, you’ve basically run a marathon or two and need fuel to recharge your muscles and speed your recovery.
Once you get home, your nutritional needs are still high. Your body goes through an incredible demanding recovery and rebuilding process that demands nutrients and calories. Muscles need fuel to repair. Regardless of whether you had stitches or not, your skin needs healing. If you are breastfeeding, your caloric demands are higher than even when you were pregnant!
You need food. Lots and lots of food.
It’s easy to load up on take out and processed freezer meals because life with a newborn is absolute insanity. (And if you throw other children into the mix, fuggedaboutit.) Cooking homemade meals may be the last thing on your mind as you try and juggle life with this new addition.
And that’s ok. Sometimes you just gotta survive. Even if your diet isn’t perfect postpartum, you will still be providing the best nutrition for your baby, if you’re breastfeeding. So no guilt here.
But in order to heal my body, recover, and build my nutrient stores while feeding my baby, I want the best, most nutritionally-dense foods available.
In these last couple weeks before baby comes, I’m been trying to stock my freezer with foods and meals that will fortify my body and aid in it’s healing.
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Foods to Heal
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse: full of protein, folate, and most importantly – choline. Choline is an ESSENTIAL nutrient for both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as it plays a crucial role in baby’s brain development. ( I HIGHLY suggest reading Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols as she explains so much on the importance of this nutrient.)
Eggs freeze very well and if you mix them with some protein and veggies, you’ve got a great meal! Some of my favorite egg dishes to prepare for postpartum:
- Egg bake with sausage, kale, and broccoli
- Frittatas or Frittata muffins.
- Egg and bean Burritos. (Run Fast. Eat Slow. has a great recipe!)
I know, I know. Gross. I will confess, I have a hard time just attempting to eat liver. But the fact is, liver is incredibly rich in nutrition. It’s rich in B vitamins, choline, and iron. After delivery, you have lost quite a lot of blood, and a diet with plenty of iron can help you replenish and rebuild. Diets deficient in vitamin B have been link to irreversible brain damage in babies. (Again see Nichols’ Real Food for Pregnancy )
There are a couple of ways to sneaking liver into your diet without having to choke down a plate of chicken livers:
Prepare you favorite recipe but add in finely chopped/minced liver and freeze.
- Mix beef, pork, or chicken livers into your meatloaf.
- Make high iron Meatballs (like my Monster Meatballs)
- Mix it into chili or spaghetti sauces
- Mix in a veggie filled shepherd’s or cottage pie
Bone broth has been used as a traditional food in many cultures for the postpartum period. The collagen and gelatin help restore skins elasticity and can aid in the repairing of any tissues healing from stitches. The warmth is easy on your digestive system which has taken quite a hit during pregnancy and delivery.
I make a big batch of bone broth and freeze it in quart-sized containers. Use in your favorite soups, stews, or simply drink to replenish fluids and aid in healing.
Traditionally, warming foods have been a part of the postpartum healing process for many cultures. (See:The First Forty Days ) Part of the idea was the ward off any potential “chill” that a new mother could face, but the other part was warm/ cooked foods are easier on digestion than raw foods.
Warming dishes to prepare and freeze:
- Sweet Potato Chili (Recipe coming soon!)
- Chicken and Rice soup
- White Bean Chicken Chili
- Beef and lentil soup
- Beef stew (leave out potatoes; they don’t freeze well)
Postpartum is a time of long nights, blurry days, and ridiculous hunger. Your body is repairing itself, your caloric demands are much higher, and you are sustaining the life of a quickly-growing human.
The hunger is FOR REAL.
The best snacks will be full of great nutrition, quick to grab, and satiate your ravenous hunger in a snap.
A lot of these can be thrown in the freezer until baby comes. My favorite snacks to prep:
- Protein-packed Peanut Butter Balls
- Homemade Larabars
- Grain-free Granola (pair with whole fat, plain yogurt and some berries)
- Superhero Muffins (from Run Fast. Eat Slow. or Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. )
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies (from Run Fast. Eat Slow.)
Quick and Easy
Other things to keep in your freezer are meals that are super quick to put together but still nutrient dense. All of these are assembled, then flash frozen so they can be stored in the freezer, and I can just pull out what I need for a given meal.
- Grain-free Chicken Tenders (Recipe coming soon!)
- Salmon Cakes (Recipe adapted from Nom Nom Paleo. You can check out the site here, but the actual recipe is in her cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans)
- High Iron Meatballs
Ok, collagen probably falls under the “supplement” category, but it is worth bringing up. I mentioned above the importance of collagen for skin repair, and regardless of whether or not you have any incision sites, your skin does need to repair. It was stretched to accommodate your growing baby over nine months, and now will be settling back.
But wait! There’s MORE! Collagen has been linked to help repair diastasis recti, which is the abdominal separation that occurs in most pregnant women. DR is the cause of the infamous “mommy tummy” or “mom pooch.” Supplementing with collagen and rehabbing your abs will help you heal any separation. (Can I get an, “Amen!”) You can read more on the study on collagen and DR here.
Two of my favorite brands of collagen are:
Alright, alright, you don’t really need to “prepare” this. But it’s worth being aware that you will be thirsty. Like, really thirsty. And one of the worst things you can do to yourself is get dehydrated while you’re busy caring for you newborn.
Keep water handy at all times. I found it helpful to have big glasses or bottles with straws, (like this ) that way I could nurse and drink simultaneously. Warm or tepid water will actually be kinder on your digestive system, but if you need it cold, go for it.
Don’t like the taste of plain water? Add lemon, cucumber, or other fruits to jazz it up a bit. But you need to be drinking a lot of water. You just do.
Childbirth and motherhood are intense and physically demanding experiences, but you can give yourself the right foods to prepare for the postpartum phase. I hope you found this list helpful. If you’d like to learn more about nutrition for pregnancy and postpartum, two books I found incredibly helpful are Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols, and The First Forty Days by Heng Ou.
Interested in the recipes I prepared for postpartum? Let me know which ones you’d like first! I’d be happy to share!