Nothing can prepare you for bringing home a baby. Your nursery may be decorated, your freezer stocked with meals, and a stack of newborn diapers and onesies neatly folded. While those things are great, the emotional, mental, and physical task of caring for a new baby is exhausting. I would not classify it as fun or magical. At least I didn't find it to be.
However, now that we are 8 weeks postpartum, I'm starting to really enjoy my time with Fredrik. At 2.5 weeks old Fredrik and I joined a new moms group put on by Amma Parenting. It was the best decision ever. During our last class we created a list of things we would tell ourselves or any new mom who was 3 days postpartum. The funny thing is, even if I had this list at that time, I'm not sure would have heeded the advice, or believed it. Here's our list any way:
As a dietitian I want to add a few more things to this list.
1. Eat meals not just snacks. So many websites and healthcare professionals talk about keeping snacks on hand for when you get hungry; snacks are nice but you need to eat a MEAL! Have a spouse bring you food on the couch while you nurse, have family bring you food, make dinner in the morning during nap time so you can re-heat at night. Snacks will not fill you up, and most snacks end up being crackers, dried fruit, pretzels, nuts, bananas, cookies... nothing that will actually satisfy you. Try to eat 2-3 actual meals every day. I find that a good solid breakfast is really important for me. Yogurt and smoothies just don't keep me full, but leftovers or eggs/meat + PB on toast keep me going.
2. Snack on Protein, but not just nuts. I've seen it with clients and started to fall into the habit myself. Even though bananas+peanut butter = delicious, it's not that filling. Neither is a hand full of almonds when you are running on 3 hours of sleep. Even though I just told you to eat meals, you're probably going to want/need some snacks. To keep your blood sugar stable, minimize cravings, and support whatever energy level you might have while sleep deprived, choose snacks that are high in protein and fat: hard boiled eggs, cheese, deli meat, salami, epic bars, pork rinds, protein powder + coconut milk, homemade protein balls, yogurt, cottage cheese, a packet of tuna, smoked salmon.
3. Join/create a meal train for the first couple weeks home or when your spouse/partner goes back to work. We had meals brought to us by members of the MOMs club I joined back in June. On Tuesdays and Fridays for 3 weeks moms brought us a complete meal (sometimes enough for leftovers). It was so nice to know that at least for that night we didn't need to come up with/thaw out something to eat.
4. Drink bone broth. I have no idea if this makes a difference....but it makes me feel like I'm doing something good for myself and supporting tissue healing. It's also something to drink that isn't water. I made and froze several quarts before Fredrik was due, but even Trader Joes now has bone broth if you don't want to make your own. Other brands that you can find at other grocery stores include: Pacific, Epic, Kettle & Fire.
5. Don't restrict, especially if breast feeding. If you are hungry eat; even at 2am. You have more important things to worry about right now than losing baby weight. If you had a long labor, c-section, or other complications your body has even greater calorie and nutrient needs when it comes to healing. This is not the time for Whole30 challenges, Sugar Detoxes, calorie counting or even my friend Katie's Best You Plan. Respect the carb/sugar cravings if you have them, and maybe make real food choices like fruit and sweet potatoes, or don't...and just dive into the tub of ice cream. I've decided to give myself a 3-4 month grace period before I really focus on making my usual 'healthy' choices and begin to say 'no' to so much sugar and processed carbs. Around 6 weeks I found this getting a little easier to do. For me these choices are not about weight loss, but about feeling my best. That means good digestion, good energy, and stable moods.
6. Stay hydrated. Water, Fizzy Water, Bone Broth, Kombucha, Diluted Juice, Tea (avoid peppermint if struggling with low milk production), 1-2 cups coffee, Zevia Soda. It's no joke that breast feeding makes you thirsty, you need a good 2 liters of fluids each day to support milk production. I've started filling up water bottles in the morning, and always pack a LaCroix when going out. The LaCroix cans fit better in the diaper bag pocket than my glass water bottle, and it's a nice treat.
Hope these ideas help, anything you would add to either list?
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.