Our third and final blog on Nutrition from Stacy Heckenberg BHSc Nut. Med. – for now at least! – is all about how to take care of your nutrition once baby is born. Good nutrition is important now not only to help you get back on your feet after pregnancy and birth, but to help combat the inevitable sleeplessness, and to make sure you are producing the quality and quantity of milk your baby needs to thrive.
Why Postpartum Nutrition is Important
The big day has come and gone and you are home with your beautify baby. On to the next part of the journey – parenthood! A lot of big decisions happen during this time, all while you are learning about this new little person, managing more changes to your body, and the new normal of your life.
Good nutrition will not only help ensure you have a good milk supply, but will aid in recovery and repair of your body, and help with fatigue and the moods that come with hormonal fluctuation.
Choosing to Feed
Choosing how you are going to feed your little bundle is deeply personal, yet everyone will have an opinion that they are happy to share with you! Whether you choose breast or bottle – FED is best. Some women struggle to breastfeed, others choose not to. As a nutritionist I am here to support either choice.
Breast milk has benefits to both mother and child, it’s easily digested, and less likely to cause tummy upset. But, some women may experience, pain, low supply, excess supply, or suffer mastitis. If you find yourself experiencing any of these issues, Alison can recommend a great lactation specialist who will help you.
What to Eat While Breastfeeding
If you decide to breast feed, but are finding your milk supply is low you might need to increase your sources of what we call lactogenic foods. These are foods, also known as galactagogues, which help your body produce more milk. Things to include are:
There are also foods you should avoid as they may cause a drop in supply:
Taking Care of Yourself
This is a busy time, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few tips for managing to ensure you get the rest you need:
- Do your grocery shopping online so you don’t have to worry about struggling around the supermarket
- Ask for help with meals – a Doula will always bring you a meal, and will know exactly what you need nutritionally. If you have friends and family perhaps they can drop in the odd hot meal
- If you are making a meal, make double and freeze half for a day when you are tired or just too busy with baby
- Keep plenty of healthy snacks in the house – fresh fruit, cheeses and trail mix are great and easy to eat one handed while you feed baby!
- Often the evenings are unsettled times for babies. So if you have a slow cooker make use of it!
Part of my job is to make meal plans that support all stages of conception, pregnancy and postpartum. So I thought I would share a couple of recipes that I love. There are also a couple from Alison that you might like. Check out the Recipes section of the blog to see the recipes.
I hope these suggestions help you make it through that special time in your life. For more ideas go the Healthy Eating Guideline for Pregnancy at www.eatforhealth.gov.au.
Yours in health,
I hope you enjoyed our Nutrition series. If you have any questions, or want to chat about any aspect of pregnancy, birth or postpartum, message me at:
These pumpkin cookies are perfect for breakfast or a snack and take under an hour to make and bake. I suggest making a double batch and storing some in the freezer.
You will need:
1.25 cups of oats (quick or rolled)
1.5 teaspoons ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
.25 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
.5 cup pumpkin seeds
.5 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pitted dates (chopped)
1 Egg (you can substitute a chia egg)
.75 cup pureed pumpkin
.25 cup honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 carrot (grated)
Optional Additions – choc chips, walnuts
- Preheat oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper
- Combine oats, flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, baking powder, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chopped dates together in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Whisk egg in a separate mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, honey, coconut oil and grated carrot. Mix well to combine.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well until a dough-like consistency forms.
- Form cookies with the dough and place on baking sheet. (Tip: use a lid from a large-mouthed mason jar as a mold)
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Then enjoy!
PB & J Smoothie
A little comfort smoothie that will fill you up thanks to all the protein, at the same time as helping with your milk supply. If the weather is hot and you need to cool down – use frozen bananas and berries.
You will need:
5 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 banana – frozen or fresh
1 cup fresh or frozen berries
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (optional)
2 cups light coconut milk or nut milk – whichever you prefer
1 tablespoon honey
Blend everything in a blender until smooth.
These biscuits are great for increasing your milk supply. The secret ingredient is brewers yeast. Don’t be tempted to replace it with bakers yeast – or any other sort of yeast – as they won’t work as well.
You will need:
1 Cup self raising wholemeal flour (if you have plain flour or coconut flour add half a teaspoon of baking powder)
.5 cup low fat butter (for a healthier option, use organic virgin coconut oil instead (which is super good for you)
.75 cup of brown sugar or coconut sugar (if wanting to reduce sugar, you could try just half a cup)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (can be found at any local health food store)
2-3 tablespoons of water (depends on if you prefer moister bickies)
1 tablespoon vanilla (optional, for flavour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, for flavour)
1-2 tablespoons brewers yeast
.5 teaspoon salt (use Himalayan salt if possible)
1.5 cups oats (get the thicker cut oats if you can)
OPTIONAL – half a cup of your favourite biscuit ingredients – sultanas, currants, pepitas, chopped dates etc.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter or coconut oil and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.
- Add the dry ingredients (apart from the oats and your optional ingredients) and mix well again.
- Finally, stir in the oats and your optional ingredients.
- Make the biscuits (I use a dessert spoon as a rough guide) and place them onto a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Flatten them a little with your fingers or a spatula. If you like a soft centre, don’t squash too much. If you like you can just make them into balls – I do this and love the soft centre!
- Bake for around 10-12 minutes depending on how well cooked/crunchy you like your biscuits – I prefer them a little soft and lightly cooked.
Help in that all important “Fourth Trimester”
Your baby is here! Those 40-odd weeks of dreaming and planning have finally come to fruition and in your arms is a beautiful baby. Now what? Sometimes, coming home and settling into a routine can be a challenge. Amongst the joy, you are struggling with hormones, sleeplessness and anxiety. Managing a new baby is like nothing you have ever done before, and all the reading in the world can’t properly prepare you for the reality.
What is the Fourth Trimester?
The postpartum period is often referred to as the Fourth Trimester, and generally covers the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life. You have a new baby, your body is recovering from pregnancy and birth, and your hormones are on a roller coaster. It is a time of huge emotional and physical change.
In the past, mums, aunties and sisters have been around to help new mums. But these days we often live far away from our family, or they are busy working and can’t always take the time to help. When it is available, family ‘help’ often comes with its own brand of stress and anxiety. Often our partner takes time off, but that is not always possible, and if they work long hours this can mean you are home alone for long periods when your partner returns to work. This is where a Postpartum Doula can help.
What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?
A Postpartum Doula can help you with all the physical, emotional and practical aspects of becoming an awesome new mum, helping you get organised and feel confident in your new role. A doula will help with:
Nutrition – the last thing you feel like doing is cooking! But good nutrition is important for your own health, and milk production. A doula will ensure you have nutritious home cooked meals to help you get through the days and weeks ahead.
Rest – someone to look out for your baby, and maybe get a few light chores done around the house, while you are sleeping is invaluable.
Partner – sometimes our partner struggles in the fourth trimester. They want to help, but often aren’t sure how, and they will be feeling the same anxiety as mum. The reassurance of a calm, knowledgeable professional can set some of those anxieties to rest.
Siblings – if this is not your first baby, your older children will have a lot of adjusting to do. You need to spend time with your baby, but you need to spend time with your other children too. A doula can help managing those competing demands by taking care of your baby for a while so you have uninterrupted time with your older children, or entertain your older children while you feed and settle baby.
Family and friends – some mums find one of the must frustrating things to manage in the fourth trimester is the well-meaning family and friends who ‘drop in’ to see the baby or ‘give you a hand’. A doula can help you manage these drop-ins and ensure you get the rest – and the help – you need.
Advice – sometimes it is hard for new parents to recognise the difference between what may be normal feelings and behaviour, and what might be a little more serious. A doula can help parents find expert help, whether it be with breastfeeding, anxiety or any other aspect of parenting a newborn.
And sometimes, all you need is a sympathetic ear and an extra pair of hands. A doula can do that too!
When Should I Find a Postpartum Doula?
The best time to look for a Postpartum Doula is while you are pregnant. Many Birth Doulas also provide Postpartum services, so if you are thinking of having a doula at your birth you might like to think about finding one that offers postpartum services as well.
Making a postpartum plan while you are still pregnant is so much easier than waiting until the baby is born and you are tired and hormonal. It will help make sure you are thinking clearly about what you want, and it will allow you to talk to your family and friends so that they are aware of how you want to manage the postpartum period. That said, it is never too late to call on a doula for help.
Making a plan with a doula will also give you the confidence that you really are prepared for what is to come. Things like meal planning, allocating chores, managing family members as well as providing informed, evidence-based advice on things like breast feeding, settling and routines are what a doula is trained to do.
Of course, the best laid plans sometimes go awry, so you need to remain flexible if need be, and a doula can help you revise your plans to make them work for you in your new normal.
Grieving and Postpartum Doulas
Sometimes the unthinkable happens and a healthy happy baby is not the outcome. Whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, a doula can help you in this most heartbreaking of times. An understanding ear, a hot meal, or a simply someone to hold you up when you need it are all part of a doula’s service.
If you think including a Postpartum Doula in your parenting team might be something you are interested in, please get in touch. I would love to chat: