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Postpartum

The Best Postpartum Meals to Fuel Your Recovery

NEW MODERN MOM

1/14/24

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Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

Your Postpartum Nutrient Needs

Congratulations on bringing a new life into the world! After this incredible yet exhausting journey, your body needs time to recover and replenish essential nutrients. During this postpartum period, also known as the fourth trimester, nutrition plays a crucial role, especially in the healing process. It's important to provide your body with real food and a balance of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals to heal and regain strength. Choosing the best postpartum meals can make a significant difference in your recovery, giving you the energy to care for your newborn while also prioritizing your own well-being.

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The Importance of Nutrition in Recovery

Proper nutrition is a cornerstone of postpartum recovery. The right balance of high-quality whole foods including proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals can significantly accelerate healing and restore energy levels.

  1. Proteins are essential for repairing body tissues and bolstering your immune system.
  2. Iron helps restore your body's red blood cell count, combating the common postpartum issue of anemia.
  3. Calcium is crucial for bone health and also supports your baby's development if you're breastfeeding.
  4. Vitamin C aids in wound healing and also boosts your immunity.
  5. B vitamins, particularly B12, are fundamental for energy production.
  6. Omega-3 fatty acids support your emotional health and contribute to your baby's brain development.

Consuming easy, nourishing postpartum meals that are rich in these nutrients will not only aid in postpartum recovery but also support milk production if you decide to breastfeed.

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Keeping Your Kitchen Stocked With Healthy Items

Maintaining a well-stocked kitchen with healthy items during the postpartum period can make meal preparation faster, easier, and stress-free. Here are some tips to help you keep your pantry and fridge filled with nutritious options:

  1. Plan ahead: Before your baby arrives, try to stock your kitchen with staples like whole grains, canned beans, protein powder, and frozen vegetables. These items have a long shelf-life and can be used in a variety of meals.
  2. Batch cook: When you have some spare time, prepare large portions of food and freeze them. This way, you have nourishing postpartum meals ready whenever you need them.
  3. Shop online: If it's hard to get out of the house to the grocery store, consider using an online grocery delivery service or meal delivery service.
  4. Enlist help: Don’t hesitate to ask family members or friends to pick up some groceries when they visit. They're often looking for ways to help and this can be a real lifesaver!

The goal is to make feeding yourself less overwhelming while ensuring you're getting the nutrients you need.

Foods to Support Postpartum Healing

Here are some of the best foods for postpartum recovery:

  1. Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps in the development of your newborn's nervous system.
  2. Leafy Greens: Foods such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and are great for replenishing iron in the body. Other fresh veggies are great too!
  3. Eggs: A versatile food, eggs are a great source of protein, essential for energy and rebuilding muscle and tissues.
  4. Lean Meats: Lean meats like chicken or turkey are high in protein, which will help your body heal post-birth.
  5. Quinoa: A nutrient powerhouse, quinoa contains a ton of protein, along with ample fiber, B vitamins, and iron.
  6. Oranges: Bursting with vitamin C, oranges (and other fresh fruits) can help keep you hydrated while also boosting your immune system.
  7. Almonds: Almonds are full of essential healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making them an ideal snack for nursing mothers. Snack on trail mix or find your favorite nut butters.
  8. Whole Grains: Whole grains, like whole wheat bread or oats, are nutrient-dense, providing you with lots of energy to take care of your newborn.
  9. Dairy Products: Yogurt, milk, and cheese are high in calcium.
  10. Avocados: Avocados are high in healthy fats, fiber, and vitamin K, which can help with your baby's growth and development.

Easy and Nourishing Meals for Postpartum Recovery

As you navigate motherhood, easy and nourishing postpartum meals become crucial for recovery, providing you with the essential nutrients needed to heal, regain strength, and care for your newborn. Utilize meal planning and store some of these healthy dishes as a freezer meal for later use. Below are some great meal ideas, but you can find a full list of breastfeeding snacks here.

Breakfast

lactation energy no-bake bites

Lactation Energy No-Bake Bites

chocolate chunk zucchini bread

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread

coconut oil banana bread

Coconut Oil Banana Bread

whole wheat blueberry buckle

Whole Wheat Blueberry Buckle

Lunch

Salmon rice bowl

Brown Rice Salmon Bowls

pumpkin curry with coconut milk and naan

Pumpkin Dal With Coconut Milk

penne alla vodka with greek yogurt

Penne alla Vodka With Greek Yogurt

taco salad

Instant Pot Taco Salad

Dinner

Vegan shepherds pie

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

butternut squash soup with cheese pastry

Butternut Squash Soup with Cheddar Brie Pastries

Chicken soup with fresh bread

Chicken Soup

chili topped with avocado

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

Postpartum Meals to Make-Ahead and Freeze

Making postpartum meals ahead of time and freezing them can be a lifesaver for new mothers, taking the pressure off cooking in the initial weeks after childbirth. Having a stash of easy postpartum meals not only saves valuable time but also ensures a steady intake of nourishing, balanced meals necessary for recovery. It can be a comforting relief to know a hearty, healthful meal is just a quick reheat away, giving you more time to focus on your newborn and your own rest.

Frozen Meal Ideas

Below are some fantastic, easy-to-make, and nourishing recipes that make great meals perfect for new moms. They are all courtesy of some of my favorite food bloggers, so get ready to bookmark these!

zucchini pesto orzo casserole

Zucchini Pesto Orzo Casserole

chicken enchilada bake

Chicken Enchilada Bake

white chicken chili bake

White Chicken Chili Bake

mac and cheese with broccoli

Stove Top Mac and Cheese

braised short ribs over mashed potatoes

Cider Braised Short Ribs

roasted butternut squash and spinach lasagna

Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

lentil soup with parmesan cheese

The Best Detox Crockpot Lentil Soup

golden soup topped with chickpeas

Golden Soup

coconut tandoori chicken over rice

Instant Pot Coconut Tandoori Chicken

honey sesame chicken with roasted vegetables

Honey Sesame Chicken

asian meatballs with broccoli and rice

Sesame and Scallion Asian-Inspired Meatballs

Freezing Tips for Postpartum Meals

Freezing meals postpartum is a practical and effective way to ensure you have nutritious meals on hand. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Prep in Bulk: Preparing and cooking meals in large quantities can save time and energy. Cook a large pot of your favorite meal, and freeze it in individual portions.
  2. Use Freezer-Safe Containers: Invest in quality, BPA-free freezer-safe containers to keep your meals fresh and prevent freezer burn. Label these with the contents and date of freezing.
  3. Layer Smart: For meals like lasagna or enchiladas, layer ingredients in a way that they'll reheat evenly. This often means placing heartier ingredients towards the bottom.
  4. Cool Before Freezing: To maintain the quality of your food, allow your meals to cool completely before placing them in the freezer.
  5. Freeze in Portions: Freeze meals in single portions, so you can easily grab, reheat, and eat without needing to thaw out an entire large dish.
  6. Consider Variety: Make sure to prepare a variety of meals, to cater to different moods and cravings. Postpartum is an unpredictable time, and having a selection can help meet your changing needs and tastes.
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Feature image by Charlotte Emily from Getty Images

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