As a new parent, you spend a lot of time thinking about the nutritional needs of your baby — but what about mum? What are the best foods to keep new mums healthy and firing on all cylinders, to help them cope during those first few weeks with a new bub?
Meals and snacks for maximum health
Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, or using a mix of both, it’s likely that you’ve poured a lot of time and energy into making the best possible nutritional decision for your baby.
But when it comes to your own post-partum diet, many mums are too focused on their tiny new charge — and too exhausted from tending to bub all through the night — to worry about snacking healthily and cooking nutritious meals from scratch.
Hungry yet time-poor? Try one of these 30-minute casserole recipes! >>
One way to get around this is to prepare and freeze a few meals before you give birth. One new mum, Krissy, whipped up one month’s worth of meals in the weeks leading up to her baby boy’s arrival and stored them in single-serve freezer-bags. “My husband was working odd hours so we weren’t always eating our meals together, and it worked well being able to heat up enough food for one person at a time,” she explains. “I made a casserole, a few curries, two lasagnas and a big batch of chicken soup. It was a huge help!”
Regardless of whether you prepare meals in advance or cook as you go, there are certain foods you should add to your diet to maximise your energy and give you stamina to cope with all of the demands that new motherhood demands.
Tip: If friends and relatives offer to cook a meal for you during these early days of parenthood, graciously accept their offer! Not only will it save you from another meal of toast or cereal, but a delicious, nutritious home-cooked meal tastes so much better when it’s made by someone else!
Meals that pack a nutritional punch
You know the drill by now: Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. But did you know that the DHA in salmon may also help improve your mood and lower your risk of depression? Keep some fillets of salmon in the freezer and grill in a little olive oil for a quick, healthy dinner; serve with a basic side salad.
“When you’re looking for foods to boost your energy, seek out iron-rich foods like lean beef,” suggests the team at KidSpot.com.au. “A deficiency of iron can drain your energy levels, making it hard for you to keep up with the demands of a newborn baby.” Grab some diced beef from the supermarket and marinate it in soy and honey for a few hours, then grill and serve on a crunchy green salad.
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It’s not the most exciting meal in the world, but eating fresh fruit is crucial at this time. Oranges, for instance, are a great food to boost energy, while watermelon is packed with antioxidants. Spend an hour slicing and dicing a big fruit salad — or better yet, ask your husband or a visiting relative for a hand! — and then snack on a bowl-full here and there throughout the day.
You went nine months avoiding runny, gooey eggs, thanks to that nasty listeriosis risk. But now is your opportunity to make up for lost time! Egg yolk is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, an essential nutrient for bone strength (and if you’re breastfeeding, it will help your little one’s bones grow, too). Eggs are also high in protein and easy to whip up at a moment’s notice.