We all know the joy of feeding someone with a delicious and nourishing meal. The joy of feeding families in the postpartum period is just as incredible, if not more so! Many families are really surprised and overjoyed to find that, when they ask friends and family to bring food in the early weeks, that people are delighted to help and food comes to them in abundance.
So many mothers say, when they look back, how full-on the fourth trimester, the first few weeks and months were with a newborn baby, what a shock it was, and how hungry they were. It can really be a surprise to find that it is almost impossible to care for a newborn and prepare something to eat!
As mothers to be, we tend to focus so much on the baby’s birth that what we are really going to need after this doesn’t enter our heads in any great detail, apart from things we can buy. I remember spending ages while pregnant with my first baby, who is now 8, trying to decide which washcloths to buy in Boots, while my freezer lay empty. I remember enthusiastically baking and freezing scones for visitors, not realising that what I needed in my freezer was sustaining and nourishing meals to feed our new little family once we became three. Postnatal home help and what we would eat were so far from my mind!
Your postpartum doula, a qualified professional in providing in-home help for your newborn, can also be a key part of keeping you and your family fed. In my work, I often cook for families in their homes, sometimes picking up groceries en route to them, and cooking the evening meal, or preparing lunch and snacks. This is a huge part of the jigsaw of postpartum care because it means that the whole family is eating well and it takes so much pressure off parents as food is a huge part of the home workload.
This is where friends and family can also really help out and they really WANT to! However, they won’t know what you need unless you actually say it! It is such an enormous weight off your shoulders having people bring you food for those intense early days and weeks when your breastfeeding newborn is busy setting up your milk supply. She is the busiest and cutest little milk factory worker ever and she takes her job very seriously! Having a list of meals you love can really help people when they are thinking of bringing you food. You can always tell them you don’t expect a baby present but would LOVE food.
A meal train is a great way to set yourself up with daily meals for a period of time while you are resting and nesting. You can set out your own list of meals and friends and family can organise themselves so that you are getting a lovely meal delivered to you each day, (see meal train template below, adapt to suit you and your needs and circumstances).
Luckily there is no special breastfeeding diet required for when you are feeding your baby yourself. However, it is so important to keep yourself as well-nourished as possible. Nutrients actually help to combat the stress we experience during this intense time of so much change and adjustment. Your body is recovering from pregnancy and birth and will continue to do so for at least a year. See more from postpartum doula Julia Jones here
Not sure where to start or what to ask for? Here are 6 ideas to get you started and a sample Meal train letter to get those meals going!
Oh and get a flask so that you can keep soup or stew warm beside you while you rest.
Think: warming, well cooked, good fats, hearty root veg, spices……
- Soup, especially soups with root vegetables like sweet potato and carrots. Courgette is also good.
- Chicken or Minestrone packs an extra protein punch.
- Stews: beef, lamb, chicken, or chickpea
- Milk puddings with spices like cinnamon or cardamom.
- Spiced banana bread or muffins.
- A mild dhal or curry; Green Saffron curry company does gorgeous sachet mixes and the curries freeze and reheat really well.
A warm meal served up with a gigantic dose of reassurance, love, a warm blanket, and hugs will make such a difference to you. You are experiencing deep and profound changes to your brain and identity. Your village can do so much to help you through this transition period.
See my really handy letter for meal train participants here:
Thank you so much for contributing to our meal train. This is going to be one of the most nourishing and supportive gifts that you could give. We are grateful for whatever you are offering, and to make it a little easier for you, here are some suggestions.
Midwives suggest 5 days in bed, 5 days on the bed, and 5 days around the bed, so Mammy and baby will be lying in for those first 3 weeks.
After that, we would love to have short visits.
If you could help us with our meal train, it would be great.
Three meals I love are:
Foods that are not favourites/ I don’t like are:
My favourite foods are:
I am allergic to:
Thank you so much for your support at this special time,
Lots of love,