by Lindsay K. Germain, Certified Postpartum Doula
(originally published by BirthWays in spring of 2014)
When you welcome your new baby into your home, you’ll find that time tends to shift in mysterious ways. Especially in the early days, chores that used to take an hour might start to take four hours, or even a few days.
Your time will be more precious, and likely more stretched, than ever before.
Unlike adults, who sleep for a long stretch at night, newborns tend to sleep in short naps and aren’t yet able to consolidate their sleep.
In a sea of short naps and night and day feedings, it can be a real challenge to get good, nourishing food into your body.
It’s hard to have patience for fussiness, nap strikes, and other challenges of early parenting if you’re tired and hungry. The more you can get good, small meals and snacks throughout the day, the more resilient you’ll feel.
It’s easy to go hungry when you’re holding, feeding, and caring for your wide-awake baby. If you skip meals, it’s much harder to take care of yourself and feel good about your baby. Breastfeeding mamas need to eat an extra 200 to 500 calories per day.
Lots of moms figure out ways to get quick, nourishing bites when they need to refuel.
If you plan just one thing to make your postpartum transition feel smoother, set up a way to have convenient meals and snacks.
Eating small meals throughout the day helps stabilize your mood and energy. You can use a baby carrier to keep your hands free to snack.
Here are my favorite tools for mamas to help make meals easy:
Do You Know How to Call on Your Village?
Want a great, free way to plan on eating well postpartum? Check out mealbaby.com, where you can invite and manage family and friends who want to help by bringing you a meal. To get started, you can create a free account and set up a meal delivery calendar.
Three Stone Hearth
This nutrient-dense meal service offers meals that are consistently delicious and ideal for recovery from birth. They have a Berkeley location with hours for free pick-up, or a paid delivery service in SF, the East Bay, and Marin
Their menu changes every week. You can place an order conveniently online. They have lots of special dietary options and gluten-free choices.
If you love to cook and want to learn how to cook like a chef, this is a wonderful, delicious meal program. They deliver ingredients for a meal you make from scratch. The food arrives in a cooler at your door. Like Three Stone Hearth, their menu changes weekly and you select your meals online.
The major downside for new parents is these meals can take a long time – upwards of an hour or more – to make. I tend not to recommend this option because it can be pretty tough, if not impossible, for sleep-deprived newborn parents to find that kind of time.
Their claim is that all packaging is reusable or recyclable. However, the box your food arrives in includes a lot of waste, much of which ends up in the landfill.
Grocery Delivery from Amazon
This is a pilot program, available in San Francisco and the Peninsula. You can search here to see if you live or work in the delivery area. The service delivers any groceries you may need in a cooler so they are fresh.
Ask Friends and Family
There are probably a dozen people who are just waiting to hear how they can support you. Making a specific request can empower people who want to help, but aren’t sure how. For example, you could ask friends to sign up on a calendar to drop off a meal or pitch in to gift you a professional cleaner. Whatever ways you request help, you’re more likely to get the help you want when you ask directly and clearly.
Farm Fresh to You
This is a produce delivery services that brings a fresh, organic box of produce to your home each week. These raw ingredients are fresh and healthy, but do take time to prepare.
If you are looking for a convenient meal, you might pair this option with asking a good friend to come by and cook things up for you once a week.
Hire a Postpartum Doula
A great postpartum doula can help you by cooking, cleaning, and running to the store. She cares for you based on your needs and the needs of your family. She’ll bring you water and good meals while she is there. Before she leaves, she’ll make sure there’s food around for your next few meals.
Day postpartum doulas tend to be the ones who offer this type of support, while night doulas generally do not. A night doula’s job is primarily supporting families get to get nighttime sleep. She does this by helping keep things quiet and avoiding making noise in the kitchen while you sleep.
When you’re well-cared for, you have the foundation necessary to care for your baby. It’s a big job to be a parent. Finding ways to honor your body and get a daily dose of delicious, nourishing food will help ease the postpartum transition.
About the Author
Lindsay K. Germain is a writer and postpartum doula who lives in Oakland, CA. Inspired by the farm-to-table movement, she cooks for new parents n their homes. he’s passionate about supporting parents as they bring their babies home.