New Motherhood is no joke. Not only did our body just go through one of the most intense physical feats EVER but on top of it we are now responsible for feeding and caring for a new little human (adorable as they are, it’s still pretty exhausting!) As parents we become fixated on the new baby and all of their needs and often wind up neglecting ourselves in the process. Nutrition is so important in the early postpartum days and not only helps us physically heal but can give us more energy, boost our mood, ensure our milk supply is strong and promote better sleep.
I’m not naïve though; I also know that meal planning, cooking and even eating can all be huge challenges in those early weeks, so I always make sure my recommendations are quick, easy, nutrient dense and can be eaten with one hand. When asked about my top 5 favourite foods every new mom needs, I was a little stumped, since there are SO many great ones. However, if I have to choose these are my go tos that I send to new mom clients and friends:
1) Prunes-In my honest opinion every new mom should start eating prunes before their delivery and into postpartum. Prunes help alleviate constipation and are amazing at moving things along our digestive tract (even shown in studies to be more effective than psyllium based fibre supplements…and they taste better too!) Constipation is never fun but without going into too many details- let’s just say you don’t want ANY straining of ANY kind after having a baby. You will thank me for this one! Buy a bag of dry prunes and eat a handful as is, or you can have them stewed (recipe below). They are delicious and I regularly had a scoop of stewed prunes over my yogurt while pregnant and in early postpartum.
2) Bone Broth-This item seems to be all the rage these days, and for good reason. Bone broth has so many benefits. First off, it is hydrating, which is critically important. When you are dehydrated your body will conserve water in less vital areas (like reproductive organs) and redistribute water to life-sustaining functions. Blood also thickens when dehydrated, decreasing circulation. Water and broth also help balance hormones, flush out toxins, and deliver nutrients to the body. Bone broth is also rich in minerals and building blocks for rebuilding collagen, helpful in healing stretched abdominals and strained pelvic floors. While bone broth takes a while to actually cook, making it is quite easy. There are many great recipes online. Be sure to add some good quality sea salt at the end and I love drinking it out of a mug. Feels warm and comforting and less chance I will spill on the baby. One handed meals for the win!
3) Hemp Seeds-I love hemp seeds as an addition to anyone’s diet, but especially new moms. The nutritional profile is off the charts. Hemp foods are rich in protein and have all 10 essential amino acids. They also contain omega-3, omega-6, stearidonic acid (SDA), and the rare omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which has been shown to help with cholesterol, inflammation, skin and hair health, balancing hormones, and general heart health. Plus if that wasn’t enough, hemp foods also contain magnesium, fibre, iron, zinc, and phosphorous. Hemp hearts are also super easy and versatile. I add them to my daily smoothies, yogurt bowls, energy balls or oatmeal.
4) Avocado- When you just have a baby you need to quickly learn that fat is your friend and you need a lot of it. Nuts, seeds, coconut or olive oil and fatty fish are all great choices but I love the richness of avocado and the amazing taste it imparts in any dish. I top chillis, eggs or toast with this powerhouse and it keeps me feeling full so much longer. Fat not only provides energy (which is super important for tissue repair and wound healing) but fat also aids in the absorption of fat soluble nutrients. Avocados are also a good source of fibre, vitamin K and folate (to name a few). They are a quick, easy and versatile way to enhance the nutrition of any meal or snack.
5) Bananas- Bananas are a great snack for new moms since they help to satisfy a sugar craving, without over-indulging. Bananas are loaded with nutrients and also help stabilize blood sugar. They contain magnesium and potassium, which may help new moms relax and fall asleep (if baby allows them J), making them a great before bedtime snack. Bananas could not be easier to eat and are a great option to take on the go. One of my favourite ways to eat them would be in banana “ice cream”. If you have never tried this before you will be in for a treat. The banana creates a real ice cream like consistency. Feel free to experiment and add other fruit, nut butter, cocoa powder or nuts to the banana base. Recipe is below.
Above all else, make sure you are taking care of YOU during this time. Accept help, ask for what you need, rest when you can and fuel your body in a way that will help you feel you are thriving and not merely surviving.
Big hugs and love to all new moms out there and welcome to the wonderful journey that is parenthood.
Add a few handfuls of dried prunes into a saucepan and add a splash of water. Simmer until prunes start to break down and become almost jam like in consistency. Once this is reached you can cool them and keep them refrigerated. Add a spoon or two into your yogurt (with some protein as well, such as hemp seeds or a nut/seed low sugar granola).
Banana Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”
1 frozen banana
1 tbsp of peanut butter
Splash of milk of your choice
Peel and freeze a banana (easiest if you also chop banana into pieces, especially if you don’t have a high speed blender). Add frozen banana, peanut butter and a splash of milk into blender and blend until ice cream like consistency. Add more milk if needed.
Author: Allison Martineau of Sweet Pea Nutrition
Allison Martineau has a Masters in Nutrition and Public Health from Columbia University and has over 10 years experience working in health and nutrition. She has a passion for sharing her nutritional strategies with expectant and new families to make cooking and eating for health during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods simple and convenient. Allison runs a nutrition practice called Sweetpea Nutrition and is the nutritionist at West End Mamas. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three young sons.www.sweetpeanutrition.com