Heidi Sze is a mother, writer and dietitian, specialising in pre- and postnatal nutrition. She lives in Australia with her husband and two children. On her blog, Apples Under My Bed, Heidi writes about everyday life, reflections on motherhood and the recipes that nourish her family.
She’s just released her book, Nurturing Your New Life, which is full to the brim of calming approaches to the stresses of new motherhood, as well as healthy recipes to nourish mum and bub. Here, she’s sharing some tips for new mothers to make the first few months as healthy and nourishing as they can be.
I’m very fond of toast, topped with an egg or some avocado; it makes a mighty fine meal. I just don’t fancy toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yet, in the throws of new motherhood, thrice-daily toast was often all I could manage. Many new mothers end up neglecting their needs in favour of their baby’s. Some days that’s just how it is, and we are grateful for any food we can get in our mouth. However, by planning ahead and reaching out for support, we can strive to better nourish ourselves in this demanding season of life, and feel better for it.
In the lead up to your baby’s arrival, start filling your freezer with meals for the newborn days. Vegetable soups, slow-cooked casseroles, pasta sauces (such as bolognese, pesto or passata with sardines), dhal and bone broth are all nutrient-rich options. After birth, many mothers find their appetite increases, so keep this in mind when freezing portions. You might consider freezing single serves of broth and soup that you can reheat and sip during the day to stay hydrated and nourished. Mini frittatas and banana bread are other snacks you can make ahead and pop in the freezer.
Stocking your pantry with items like canned legumes (look for BPA-free cans), canned fish (ideally oily fish like salmon and sardines), wholegrain crackers, rolled oats, quinoa, basmati rice, pasta, passata and 100% nut butters will make throwing together a nutrient-dense meal easy. Think porridge with tahini, dates and ghee; crackers with sardines; or rice with canned black beans, frozen peas and a fried egg.
As a new mother you need lots of nutritious food to help your body recover from pregnancy and birth, to replenish your nutrient stores that get depleted when making and feeding (if you’re breastfeeding) your baby, and to provide you with the energy you need to care for your little one. After birth, however, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen preparing food. Ideally, you will be resting in bed and snuggling your baby while loved ones assemble meals for you. This is your time to be nurtured, so, reach out and ask for assistance and accept the help that is offered to you. If you don’t have good support around you, a well-stocked freezer and pantry will be even more valuable. You may wish to consider outsourcing the cleaning and cooking, if you have the financial means to do so. Postpartum doulas are a worthy investment.
Once you are ready to get back into the kitchen, meal planning and batch cooking will help ensure you have nourishing food available to eat throughout the week. Once or twice a week, while your baby is napping or when a loved one is around to help look after your baby, devote a block of time to preparing some of your favourite, feel-good foods. You might make a pot of soup, roast a few trays of vegetables, boil some eggs, cook a casserole or prepare a batch of bircher muesli. If you can, make double batches of freezer-friendly meals and store them for another night. Your future self will be grateful it’s not just toast again.
Words and recipes for the new mother.
For many first-time mothers expectations about their new life come from idealised images on TV, in magazines or online. It’s a far cry from what it actually involves: lack of sleep, time and control – and total dependency on you by another. Becoming a mother brings extraordinary physical and emotional changes to a woman’s life, but it also taps into deep instincts. Heidi Sze’s message is to surrender to the changes, reject the guilt and accept the imperfect reality of this new life.
Posted on December 2, 2019 by Larissa
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