The first few weeks with a brand new baby are no joke. Constant diaper changes, sleep measured in minutes rather than hours, worrying if it’s too hot or too cold in the house, not to mention figuring out breastfeeding (while cursing yourself for not listening better in your prenatal classes). It’s totally overwhelming and all consuming. With all that work keeping your brand new baby alive, it can be really easy to forget about yourself – and you are important too, mama!
The more nutrients you can cram into your mouth between marathon nursing sessions, the better – you need to eat well to produce milk, and although you may feel like you are physically falling apart, you will fall apart just a little bit less with the right about of protein, healthy fat and smart carbs.
We’ve been there and lived to tell the tale, so here are some tips from one mom to another about how to keep yourself nourished while you get through those first few months.
1. The freezer is your friend.
While it’s always better to buy your veggies fresh, frozen vegetables are a really convenient alternative. You save time chopping, and veggies are often frozen at their peak ripeness so you’re actually saving a lot of the nutrients by not letting them waste away in your fridge. The easiest dinner out there: stir fry some frozen veggies in sesame oil, add a protein (you can buy pre-cut chicken or beef strips if you are doing this with one hand), top with tamari and you have a stir fry. Is it gourmet? No – but it’s quick, easy, healthy, and foolproof!
If you have the time and energy before baby comes, try to make some freezer meals that you can easily transfer from freezer to slow cooker or oven.
2. Meal-sized green smoothies
We know that it’s always better to sit down to a real meal than to drink your calories, but smoothies can be a great way to quickly consume a lot of nutrients without a lot of prep work. It’s important to put an emphasis on the GREEN part – too much fruit and you’ll get an unneeded blood sugar spike that will leave you hungry for more sooner than you’d like. Try to use 2-3 green vegetables, 1 frozen fruit, and then jam pack your smoothie with some more caloric goodness – try full fat greek yogurt, almond butter, avocado, chia seeds, or young coconut!
3. Batch cook and eat leftovers
Now is not the time to attempt a new recipe every night. Find delicious one pot/slow cooker meals that you can make in large batches and save for leftovers. Think: Chili, stews, soups, rice and beans, enchiladas, curries…all of these work really well. Freeze individual portions for yourself for lunches!
Here are some big batch recipes from the BB vault:
- slow cooker pulled chicken chili
- flexitarian chili
- spiced butternut squash soup
- “instant” sausage, kale + chickpea soup
- vegetarian red lentil stew
- southwest kale + oat meatloaf
- 5-ingredient breakfast casserole
- paleo slow cooker ‘lasagna”
4. Eat when you are hungry and don’t think about dieting
Listen to your body and have a snack whenever you feel hungry, regardless of what time it is. It’s not like you are following a normal sleep schedule, anyways! Being in tune with hunger and cravings will help you to ensure you are getting everything you need to produce nourishing food for baby. Breastfeeding burns calories like crazy, but the thing is we need to replenish those calories in order to keep producing! It’s not the time to worry about weight loss.
5. Prioritize fat.
Your growing baby (both before she was born and now that she is drinking milk) is relying heavily on fats for her nutrition and one tough fact of motherhood is her needs sometimes come before yours; any sleepless mommy can tell you that! Healthy fats such as virgin coconut oil, olive oil, animal fats including butter and full-fat dairy (especially from grass-fed and/or organic sources), and the fats from avocados, nuts, and seeds will all top off your body’s supply and help you make rich, nutritious milk for your breastfeeding babe. Healthy fats also help ease symptoms of fatigue and confusion due to sleeplessness.
Fear not, eating fat does not make you fat; the two types of fat are totally different. If you’re concerned about dropping the baby weight, build your meals around healthy portions of protein, fat, and veggies, and limit starchy carbohydrates more than you might have during pregnancy while eating to your appetite. It’s that simple!