Food. For me, eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I love a good meal. Going to restaurants is one of my favourite things to do. I am thrilled to pieces when the farmers market opens for the season: fresh produce when eaten in season is delicious. I have been known to cry for the perfect peach or pear.
Having a baby wrecks a fair amount of havoc on one’s eating habits, though.
My morning sickness ruined more than a few meals. Combine that with irritable bowel syndrome, and there was little that I could manage in terms of eating during the first trimester. My midwives told me not to worry about whether I was getting enough of this or that, to ignore the Canada’s Food Guide that was sent in the mail from public health, and to focus on eating whatever I could keep down. I consumed a lot of soft pretzels and passion tea lemonades during the first trimester, and still remember Jason driving to and from Wendy’s in record time when I mentioned that I was feeling up to some chicken strips and a baked potato. Most of my food issues wore off after the first trimester, and thankfully in time for a trip to the Maritimes, where I was determined to eat as much seafood as possible. For the second and third trimester, I tried to eat simple and healthy meals, and used the 80/20 rule for junk food like Big Macs and Blizzards.
But there was a new food concern on the horizon: what would we eat after the baby arrived? Cooking would be the least of my concerns with a newborn, but I knew I would have to eat in order to recover from birth, and to help my body produce milk for Georgia. I came up with the following strategies for eating during the post-partum period.
1. Freeze it. I make soup or stew about twice per week, and leftovers are always labelled and put in the freezer. During the last eight weeks of my pregnancy I built a nice little stash of nourishing meals that could be thawed and heated whenever I needed something tasty in a hurry.
2. Stock up. I love Ristorante pizzas, but they can run a little pricey. I grocery shop based on the sales I see in fliers, so whenever my beloved pizzas went on sale, we would buy a few until we had quite the pizza stack in the back of our freezer.
3. Ask for help. When family came to visit, I would usually ask if they wouldn’t mind bringing something along with them: my mother’s rice pudding was one dish that made an appearance after Georgia was born. My sisters also did a few grocery runs, and my in-laws dropped off a few meals from the take-out counter. If someone asks what they can do to help, bringing food is one of the best options.
4. Eat-in/take-out: Restaurants are a godsend for new parents. What’s in your neighbourhood? What’s fast? Does anyone offer delivery? Is there anywhere you could go with a newborn? We kept a few take-out menus around the house, along with gift cards and coupons for places like Subway and Wendy’s. The Pizza Hut lunch buffet was also one of our prime choices when Georgia was a newborn: there was no wait time for food, it was a family restaurant, and the booths were comfy on my recovering bottom (and helped us be discrete when nursing. I’m less concerned now about a straw areola coming into view, but in those early days, the privacy of a booth was very helpful when nursing in public).
5. Think finger foods: It’s not easy to nurse and cut up steak at the same time. Foods that could be eaten with one hand were crucial, as I usually need to keep one hand on my breast while feeding Georgia. There was also a few times when I needed both hands, so Jason would end up feeding me! Cheese curds, deli meat, fruit slices, crackers, and yogurt drinks became my go-to meals for quite a while. Look for foods that are high in protein, and try to “eat the rainbow” when possible.
6. Water, water, everywhere: Do not let yourself get dehydrated. We bought a big brita pitcher and kleen kanteens before Georgia was born, and then made sure there was always water within reaching distance of my different nursing stations. Getting dehydrated is no fun at all, whether you are pregnant, nursing, or just living your life.
Next up: food for thought on eating once baby is older.