Having a baby is hard, enduring labour and child birth is something that you don’t fully understand until it’s felt and experienced. Whilst pregnant, all I thought about was labour and how to prepare myself mentally and physically for it. One thing I didn’t give much thought was postpartum life. Now, that is really hard.
Kate Baer’s quote “We live in a culture where a mothers pregnant body is beautiful until the moment she gives birth. That’s when it’s time to wrap things up, tuck away the evidence, apologise for the mess. For me, personally, the body I had after birth was the one that led to transformation” really hit home for me. After giving birth, it’s expected that a mother is to bounce right back into pre pregnancy shape, have it all together and be this perfect mum, like she’s some kind of superwoman. In the digital world of highlight reels, it may appear this way for many new mums. However in the real world, that’s not the reality of the forbidden fourth trimester.
After having a baby, a woman really needs to nurture her body. She needs to look after herself, rest, allow herself to heal, all whilst trying to adjust to this new life that is motherhood. Of course it’s easier said than done but it definitely is something that needs to be done. Having the right support around you is important. I’m lucky to have such a supportive and understanding husband who is attentive to my needs. What I really needed to help heal and recover from childbirth was good nutrition and to be kind to myself.
Snapping back into pre pregnancy shape was so far down my priority list that I don’t even think it was on the list. Sure, there’s times you don’t feel yourself and just wish you could wear your old clothes again and be the old you again but that’s something the old me would have prioritised, not the new mum me. New mum me prioritised healing, recovering and most importantly being able to produce lots of nutritionally satisfying milk for my new baby girl. My baby didn’t care how thick my thighs were or jiggly my stomach was, all she wanted was to be well fed and to feel loved.
Six months into postpartum life and I’m finding myself slowly fitting back into my old clothes. How much weight have I lost? I don’t know. Do I care? Some days I do but most days I don’t. Why? Because my daughter is happy and healthy and I have been able to maintain a strong milk supply for the first 6 months of my daughters life and that’s something I’m proud of.
Being a nutritionist, I view food as medicine. I believe this mentality helped me recover postpartum. It also helped me with my milk supply. Check out below what my day on a plate looked like after giving birth. Remembering to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to rest when you can and for as long as you can but also by eating well and prioritising your health just as much as you do your new baby’s.
My day on a plate:
Finding time to make food and eat food after just having a baby is quiet the task. A lot of the meals I was having, I could make in bulk or whip up quickly. I’d eat bigger portion sizes for my main meals as I wasn’t eating as regularly as I normally would. My body
also needed the added calories and nutrients from bigger portion sizes as I needed extra energy to recover, produce milk and due to the fact I wasn’t sleeping as much.
Breakfast: Gluten Free oats, mixed berries, flaxseed and chia seeds made on water, topped with natural nut butter. Oats are known to assist in the production of breast milk; a mix of healthy fats is good for the baby’s brain development as well as regulating my own hormones. Berries are filled with antioxidants to assist with the recovery process.
Lunch: a homemade nourish bowl filled with whatever I could find premade in the fridge. Most days it was kale, beetroot, left over quinoa or basmati rice, sweet potato and/ or pumpkin, tomatoes, any left over veggies in the fridge and either boiled eggs, left over chicken or tuna. I made a dressing that I kept stored in the fridge. My dressing was made from apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey and garlic. Simple and easy to make and went well on everything. Something a nourish bowl offers is a lot of fibrous goodness. This is just what my gut microbiome needed to gain back the good bacteria and to strengthen my immune system. The more colour I could add to my bowl, the better as more colour means more nutrients. I needed to ensure that I ate all micro and macronutrients as often as I could. After all, my body had just been through trauma and needed every bit of help it could get to reset.
Snack: this was kept quick, simple and easy. I could snack using one hand if needed too. All I had was fruit and nuts, carrot sticks dipped in hummus or Greek yoghurt with fruit and chia seeds. I’d snack when I could and if I needed to. This could even be at 2am whilst breast feeding my baby. The important thing was to listen to my body and give it what it needed. I found by including some type of protein in my snacks, my blood sugar levels became more stable. This resulted in me feeling less anxious, more focused and helped to make up for the fact I was lacking sleep.
Dinner: One-pan dinners were my go to. They are easy to prepare, quick to cook and very little to clean up. My go to would be fish or salmon baked in organic butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I’d fill the tray with veggies like zucchini, broccolini, mushrooms, kale, pumpkin and whatever else I had in my fridge. In each meal, I’d aim to eat as many veggies as possible as they come with a plethora of nutrients and health benefits. The more nutrients I was consuming, the more I could pass onto my baby.
When looking after yourself postpartum, it’s important to not overcomplicate things, as you’re overwhelmed enough already. I ate a simple diet day in, day out. This worked for my family and me. It took the stress out of eating, so I could focus on more important things, like bonding with my baby.