There is nothing quite like the tea and toast the midwife brings you after you’ve had a baby. It marks a pause between birth and parenthood, a comforting, gentle return to reality – well a new reality at least. And it feels especially well-deserved after what you’ve just been through.
With my second I had thought I would be at home drinking champagne to celebrate the birth. But actually tea and toast does very nicely as a celebration.
And maybe it’s a good thing that you forget, or if it’s your first time, don’t know yet, quite how much tea and toast you might be eating in the coming weeks, grabbed between feeds, naps and nappy changes.
With my first baby I couldn’t understand why she spent so long feeding. My mum told me that her babies fed for about 20 minutes at a time. But I think she must have forgotten the early days (you do tend to block it out), as it is so normal for babies nurse long stretches at a time, between short naps. It helps to increase milk supply. Worth remembering too that with a stomach the size of a walnut babies seem to constantly needs filling.
And so do you – or that’s how it feels. People talk about “eating for two” when you’re pregnant but initially at least it’s more fitting for nursing mums, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you can need up to an extra 300 kcals a day.*
A few tips
With your body producing milk you will be thirstier, if you don’t already have a jug or bottle, get one so you can have it by your chair and/or bed and drink as you need it.
Follow your body’s thirst and hunger cues. Don’t worry in the early days about loosing weight, just try and eat well and give your body time to recover from pregnancy and birth. In the long term, breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in BMI.
Below are some ideas that might give you a bit of inspiration.
It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but you’re not really looking for culinary adventures. Leftovers in the fridge can help you get through the day. Cook an extra portion or 2 of the evening meal so you have ready made lunch the next day. Soups and stews are particularly good. You can freeze the extra portion if need be for another day.
Cook and freeze
Classic advice for pregnant women is to cook and freeze meals in the lead up to their due date. Also for friends and family to bring home cooked meals round when they visit.
Whatever is easy to grab in your fridge or your cupboard will be eaten, so make sure you have fruit (if you’ve got pineapple or melons and cut them up in one go and put what you’re not ready to eat in a container in fridge) and vegetables that can be eaten raw like carrot and celery. Yogurts are good too – I buy Greek organic because although it’s higher in fat it has a higher protein content and organic standards stipulate that organic cows have to be pasture fed. Milk from pasture fed cows (organic) has a healthier saturated fat profile compared to cows that are grain fed. Keep pitta breads, wraps and rye bread in the freezer so you always have something in the kitchen as a basis for lunch. Nuts and seeds keep well and are good snacks and can be added to yogurts along with fruit.
5 x 5 minute meals
There is nothing amazing about these meals, except I was able to cobble them together from what was in my kitchen. So they are quick to make, nutritious and can be eaten with one hand. Even if you don’t make the these meals, they might give you some inspiration to come up with ideas for your own. Also they can be adapted depending on what you’ve got at home and how much time you have.
- Hummus and seasonal vegetablesI know this doesn’t look like much, but I think looking back I tended to eat little and often, so lunch was small and sometimes elevenses and late lunch. If you want to make this more substantial add pitta bread.
- Veggie omelette
I think I made this one with 2 large eggs. Eggs make a great, quick and nutritious lunch anyway. First I fried red pepper and mushrooms in a frying pan with some olive oil until soft then I added the beaten eggs. After turning over the omlette (you could grill the topside if you don’t want to try turning the omlette) grating some parmesan cheese on top and adding some rocket and tomatoes to the middle before folding over. Not beautiful but tasty, healthy and eaten with one hand (with a fork of course).
- Salmon and salad in seeded tortilla bread
I found these seeded tortilla’s in my local supermarket. The salmon was leftover from the night before. I just put put it in a wrap along with rocket, tomato, cucumber and a little mayonnaise mixed with horseradish (optional but nice for flavour). Hummus with grated carrot and peppers works well in these too. Or leftover chicken with salad. You can freeze tortillas – so they don’t go off. I usually put parchment paper between each tortilla so they don’t stick together.
- Tinned sardines, avocado, rocket and tomato on toasted rye breadToasted rye bread is delicious and you can add just sliced avocado and/or tomato and/or tinned sardines or fresh mackerel or salmon with salad leaves on top.
- Falafels in pitta bread with saladToast the pitta bread and fill with the falafels, sliced tomatoes and salad leaves. Am sure you could think of other good fillings for these.
Grabable is key, you need to make sure a lot of the food that’s to hand is healthy – but if you aren’t able to eat as healthily as you’d would like to, don’t stress about it, just do your best, as your body is will still make good quality milk for your baby.
*This is based on latest evidence based guidance from SACN which was published in 2011.
Post note This post has been sat in my drafts folder for months. I’ve just been prompted to publish it as the subject has come up in a conversation on Facebook. Also, First Steps Nutrition are soon to publish their guidance for parents of newborns, which I will review on the blog when it’s published, so I thought I should get this in quick before their report is published instead of letting it languish in the ether.