Food is such a powerful tool. It brings joy and pleasure to our senses, can heal us physically, connect us culturally, and provides us with deep nourishment and nurturing. Not to mention its profound ability to ground and connect us to the natural world.
At no time is this truer than in the postpartum period, when a new mother’s need for energy, healing, nutrition and nurture are so high.
Many cultures believe in a special window of time in the month after birth where the Mother requires special care from her community. Names for this include ‘The Golden Month’, ‘The Confinement’, or ‘Lying In & The Sacred Window’. Most of these cultures hold/held similar beliefs about this period being a time for:
- REST – To do as little as possible in the 4-6 weeks after birth, sometimes longer.
- WARMTH – Including massage to ensure the Mother and baby thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Warmth also assists with oxytocin production, an important hormone for breastfeeding and bonding.
- NOURISHING & NURTURING – Including foods and drinks to promote wellbeing and warming. Often with the addition of healing herbs to assist with postpartum healing (and make the foods easy to digest and enjoyable).
- SUPPORT – From close family and community, in fact one could say there were no guests, only support.
- RITUAL – Celebrating the emergence of a newborn mother for every birth
Traditionally all cultures had special foods and dishes for couples leading up to pregnancy and then for the new mama after birth. Mama’s digestive organs are readjusting and energy demands are high. This is absolutely no time to be limiting calories, worrying about losing pregnancy weight, or eating cold smoothies!
Similarly, across cultures postpartum foods are often:
- Collagen rich – which aids in tissue repair
- Nutrient dense
- High in good fats, think ghee, eggs & bone broth
- Warming in temperature and quality, think easy to digest & well cooked foods with added ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg
- Light & simple in the initial days after birth, increase in complexity over the fourth trimester
- Healing and medicinal
Food is a fantastic tool to empower communities to nurture new mothers, and can be a ‘gateway’ to village building and postpartum care if you let it!
Gifting a meal to a new Mum can offer the opportunity to silently drop the meal at the door. Or, if the timing is right, come inside, heat it up, check in with mum, and offer some help. If you have a baby shower or mother blessing, ask a friend to organise a meal roster so that at least one meal a week is delivered for the first 6 weeks. For mains think stews, soups, frittata, vegetable bakes and meat loafs. For breakfast think chia and rice puddings, porridge, and omelette.
It’s great idea to stock up the freezer with meals too. Something you or your partner can grab and whip up is ideal!
And not forgetting snacks!! Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy – it’s estimated around 300-600 calories per day for an exclusively breastfed baby.
Anyone who has breastfed will know the immense hunger that arises in the early days. So having high energy, nutrient dense snacks that are easy to eat one handed (for example nut balls, lactation cookies, muffins and slices) are all fantastic.
Read on for recipes for Coconut Almond Milk and Lactation Cookies – using the left over pulp from the milk. Enjoy!
DIY Almond and Coconut Milk
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup unroasted and unsalted almonds
- 800ml boiling water
- Optional maple syrup and vanilla bean
- Glass or stainless-steel bowl
- Muslin / cheesecloth
- Glass bottle / jar 800ml + capacity
- Measuring jug and cups
- Add Coconut and Almonds to a large glass or stainless-steel bowl and pour boiling water over. Let sit for anywhere from a few hours to overnight.
- Pour all contents into blender and whiz on low for a few minutes, give it 30 seconds on high and remove. Add maple syrup and vanilla bean if you’re feeling fancy
- Set up a muslin cloth on glass bottle, jug or jar with rubber band
- Pour the blended mixture into the muslin so that the milk strains through. You may need to stir the contents in the muslin.
- Twist and squeeze the muslin to strain the remaining milk. Left over ‘pulp’ should be as dry as possible
Store in fridge and use for your turmeric latte’s and other hot drinks. This milk can last 3-5 days. Boiling the water well helps with longevity. The pulp can be used for cookies, cakes, vegetable patties and bread recipes.
Lactation Cookies or “Happy Family Cookies”
So named because they fulfil many functions! They keep Mama’s energy up to assist breastmilk production, give nourishment, and provide snacks for Papa and other kids in the family. The sweet spices aid in warming the system and soothing digestive function, the Ghee according to Ayurvedic food principals improves digestion, nourishes tissue, and strengthens the immune system. Oats are beneficial as they increase milk production.
- About ½ cup pulp left over from almond coconut milk (or almond meal)
- 1 cup oats
- ½ cup coconut sugar or muscavado sugar
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- A generous teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- A teaspoon of nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- Ghee or butter – a tablespoon or so for the mix and a little to grease the tray. Alternatively you could use coconut oil or similar
- Glass or stainless-steel bowl
- Measuring cups
- Baking trays
- Set oven to 160o Celsius
- Mix all the ingredients together
- Grease tray with ghee or coconut oil
- Roll into balls about 3cm wide and flatten slightly on the tray
- Cook for about 20-25 minutes till golden brown
- Let cool and Enjoy
Shelley Kashina McClure, aka Pollination Mama, is a Fourth Trimester Doula, Home Herbalist & Cook. Shelley can be found over at www.pollinationmamas.com and @pollinationmamas on Facebook and Instagram.
If you would like to expand your knowledge in teaching yoga for new mums safely and confidently, you may be interested in our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course, and Online Extension Modules covering topics including Prenatal & Postnatal Anatomy and Physiology, Pelvic Floor Anatomy and Physiology for Women’s Health and Perinatal Nutrition & Ayurveda. We offer a holistic approach to teaching Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga, with a focus on safety guidelines and contraindications for safe and appropriate practices to nourish prenatal students and new mothers.