Step by step postpartum recovery plan
Recently I shared a sneak peak of my postpartum meal plan and asked if it would be helpful for any of you to see it. Since quite a few expressed interest I’m sharing the first 10 days and some basic ideas it is based on so you can adapt it to your own liking.
This plan is based on several courses I took especially the postpartum classes by Ysha Oakes and books that resonated, particularly 40 day and Ysha Oakes
The main idea of the plan is to support the digestive system, hormones and lactation during the first 6 weeks period after birth.
Here is a video if you want more of a background story and ideas.
And here is the audio version of it is easier to listen to.
In the recording (just because it was faster than writing it all down) I go over the following:
The WHY for the postpartum plan and recover:
- Huge change in hormones
- Sleep deprivation
- High stress and uncertainty – different body needs
- New role as a mother
- Weaker digestion
- Quality and quantity of milk for the growing baby
I love what Earth Mama Organics founder says about the postpartum period or the period of lying-in:
Postpartum is no small adjustment. Directly after birth a woman’s hormones go from 60-0 in no time. A mama’s body is depleted. She needs time, space, and the luxury of her ups and downs. Resting, bonding, and healing are all part of adjusting to that dramatic shift in your hormones. Stay in bed. Nourish yourself. Ask for what you need.
All the focus goes to baby once s/he’s here. Which is natural for a mama, but historically there has been someone mothering the mother as well. Now that families are far flung and communities are less close, it’s up to us as mothers to make sure we are set up with all the resources we need to be nurtured after we give birth. And to know that our instincts are growing as we learn who baby is, and well meaning outsiders can short circuit our bond. Being present with baby is the best way to learn all about what both of you need.
- Ask for help from friends or relatives or hire help to cook for you (I have my mom coming and then we found someone from care.com for $20 an hour to cook from the provided recipes. You can get someone for 3 hours a day or 5-6 hours a few times a week for the first 6 weeks. For me it was more important than a fancy stroller or a crib)
- Plan to rest and spend time getting to know your babe
- Few if any visitors
- The focus is on easy to digest, nourishing, warm, liquid foods
- Lots of functional teas and bone broths
- Warm oil massage for baby and mama. I will be using Ashwagadha Bala oil for myself and sesame oil for the baby
- Belly binding once allowed (within 72 hours usually) – here is more about it
- Drink a cup of Dashamoola tea in the evening to support uterus postpartum
How to start creating your plan:
- Think of your favorite nourishing foods. What are some foods that your body loves, digests easily and has no adverse reactions to?
For me it is thai-like soups with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, raspberries, broths, seaweed
- What’s on your Doubt List? Some foods I love but not sure if they might lead to belly troubles for me or for the baby the first few weeks postpartum so I m keeping them low the first 2 weeks and then will start adding them in slowly. These foods on the Doubt list are kale, lentils and beans, celery, raw fruits, chickpea flour and pancakes from it, hummus, anything previously frozen including millet patties, kombucha, green juice, almond crackers and sesame crackers (might be too drying and lead to bloating or constipation), any sort of chips (even paleo made with avocado are no-go the first few weeks) and no gluten free (not to mention regular) breads as they can also be too drying for the gut. All salads and cabbage family will be excluded or limited in the first 10 days as well and then I will slowly start introducing them.
- Foods to include that you might not be craving right now. I included some foods that I don’t crave or eat often since we moved to Miami but I know I used to like them when a bit tired, sick, during colder weather or when I was a kid. These foods are extra nourishing and hearty. I will keep them for the first 2 weeks and then see if my body wants to keep them or let them go. These are: bone broths, chicken soup in all possible varieties, some organ meats including liver, oatmeal, nut based warm drinks, dishes with pumpkin, cookies and muffins ( don’t remember the last time I had one but reading endless stories about first time moms being hungry all the time, I want to have easy homemade snacks if I need them. My goal is to keep them low sugar and include fats and protein for stable blood sugar and milk supply).
- What else? Gut support. I will also be taking strong probiotics to support my gut flora during the first month
- Keep it fresh, if possible. Most foods and meals will be made fresh but there will be some foods that I have stocked up in case I need a quick snack and lactation cookies don’t sound appetizing.
- Puréed pumpkin that I can quickly blend with ghee, dandelion root or teeccino and a date and maybe some collagen
- Bone broth that I can have with some fresh cilantro and lime
- Soaked almonds and Turkish apricots
- Seaweed crips also go great with avocado or guacamole
- Avocados to combine with wild salmon caviar
At the end of the 6 weeks period I’m planning on doing some blood work to make sure the body is rebuilding well and nothing is missing. Throughout the whole pregnancy I was tracking lots of parameters out of interest and my love for connecting external wisdom (theory and science) and internal wisdom (intuition, how I feel and what I body actually shows in numbers).
Here are some numbers I was looking at throughout pregnancy and will re-evaluate after 6 weeks postpartum ( I am not a doctor and I had help from the actual MDs to decide what to focus on for my body. Please talk to your provider).
- CBC (complete blood count)
- CHOLESTEROL, TOTAL
- HDL CHOLESTEROL
- COMPREMENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL
- Hemoglobin A1c
- VITAMIN D,25-OH
- T3, T4
- IRON AND TOTAL IRON BINDING CAPACITY
- VITAMIN B12/FOLATE, SERUM PANEL
I have been using personalabs.com to order blood work as it turned out much cheaper than asking my doctor to order tests and pay insurance copay.
Here are some courses I enjoyed and that have additional info on postpartum and nutrition:
Healthy Baby Code
My Meal Plan
For the meal plan I am using 2 books plus the recipes I like from online resources.
In the meal plan you will see 40D or TH next to some recipes. These are the books I am using.
- 40D is The First Forty Days: the essential art of nourishing a new mother. The book includes 60 simple recipes for healing soups; replenishing meals and snacks; and calming and lactation-boosting teas, all formulated to support the unique needs of the new mother. In addition to the recipes, this warm and encouraging guide offers advice on arranging a system of help during the postpartum period, navigating relationship challenges, and honoring the significance of pregnancy and birth. I highly recommend it for any mother-to-be.
- TH means – Touching Heaven, Tonic Postpartum Care, by Ysha Oakes. This downloadable pdf book set is great if you want to learn more about postpartum care from the auyrvedic perspective.
Keep in mind that this meal plan is Vata-balancing, on a heartier side with a pretty high fat content. It would be great for anyone trying to rebuild strength, recover after an illness or someone who feels very depleted. My body and my digestion does best on 3 square meals a day and sometimes a snack. Frequent snacking or grazing disconnects me from true hunger and satiation (this has to do with optimizing leptin and ghrelin function) and often leads to bloating and irregularity (this article explains why) .
Even throughout my pregnancy I stayed on 3 meal and sometimes one additional snack regimen and it allowed me to keep my weight gain minimal (18 lbs), keep my energy levels up, and avoid dreaded constipation and heartburn. While breastfeeding my goal is to make each meal count so I am not hungry for at least 3-4 hours. It might take some adjustments and trial and error but since nothing is set in stone, I am looking forward to experimenting and finding a new flow that works for my body considering new demands.
If you are not planning on getting the books, there are plenty of similar recipes that you can look up online.
Abundant and always in a thermos:
- Fennel + fenugreek
- Ginger + red date + logan
- Bone broth with line and cilantro
Warm, liquid, oily with enough fat and protein + complex carbs to counteract high cortisol of the first few days postpartum and carb cravings from sleepless nights.
B: Ginger fried rice with 2 extra eggs and kale 175 40D + cilantro (Can use this recipe but substitute peanut oil for ghee or coconut oil)
L: Seasonal greens soup 144 40D + roasted wild salmon (if soup is not enough and I feel hungry)
D: C recovery vegetable stew p 151 40D
S: Pumpkin and apple sauce with collagen
B: Toasted ginger oatmeal p 36 TH with collagen (I will use Love Grown gluten free oats with chia and quinoa)
L: Chicken and ginger soup p 40D 138 + sauteed spinach
D: Egg drop soup with asparagus and green onions on chicken bone broth
S: Tahini lactation cookies
B: Zucchini egg paleo muffins (substitute for coconut flour)
L: Sweet potato and black bean patty and oven roasted fennel
D: Chicken and rice noodle soup + sauteed okra
S: Black almond milk p 182 40D
B: Egg drop soup with spinach and roasted sweet potatoes with coconut oil
L: Beet salad with prunes (add arugula) and kidneys 40D p 179
D: Methi vegetable soup p 66 TH
S: Vanilla custard with coconut milk and collagen p 202 40D
B: Love grown Quinoa oatmeal with figs and sesame seeds
L: Seaweed soup p 147 40D + roasted kabocha + wild snapper
D: Thai chicken soup + sauteed zucchini
S: Hot spiced milk tonic p 41 TH
B: Breakfast fried rice and guacamole
L: Cauliflower soup (substitute for coconut milk) and butternut squash galette
D: Red lentil soup and black rice + sauteed arugula and onion
S: Pumpkin lactation muffins (take chocolate chips out)
B: Tuscan kale with poached eggs (no bread crumbs)
L: Shiitake immune broth 40D p 134 + fried liver + sautéed chard
D: Hearty autumn bowl 40D p 169
S: Pumpkin chai 40D p 49
B: Roasted spaghetti squash with pesto and 2 eggs (super easy to make. Can use this recipe as inspiration)
L: Greek lemon soup and spelt rosemary biscuits (use this recipe an inspiration); Roasted beets with arugula
D: Dahl p 50 TH and wild rice salad (no dairy, no walnuts)
S: Açaí and raspberries and chia seeds
B: Bone broth Thai soup and roasted sweet potato
L: Quinoa, lentils and greens soup 40D p 137
D: Butternut squash roasted with onions and curry; sautéed kale, roasted salmon
S: Tahini milk p 45 TH
B: Peanut butter apple smoothie with almond milk
L: Quinoa and cauliflower salad
D: Turkey pho and Cauliflower mash
S: Avocado, seaweed and caviar
After day 10 I will start re-evaluate and may start adding more well-cooked cabbage family (cauliflower, broccoli, kale), lentils, and fermented foods. But for now this is the plan.
Postpartum: 4th Trimester by Peggyy O/Mara
Lying in – why you should do it