You’re going to have a baby! You’ve prepared for your birth, planned what’s right for you and now you are just waiting for your baby’s birth day. But what about afterwards? Planning for the first days and weeks after birth can make that time so much easier, calmer and happier, and an important part of that planning is your postnatal menu!
You don’t need to do this all yourself. While it’s lovely to be gifted fancy baby-grows and cute toys for your new baby, far more practical is a meal that you can freeze and heat quickly in the oven or microwave. Yet, cooking may make you happy in which case, prep away!
But what sorts of food are fab for after birth? What will be different about your post-birth meals? Read away for our top tips on preparing for your postnatal food and beverage needs!
Healthy, easy snacks
Babies like to eat little and often and trying to fit in three square meals a day around their milk requirements can be a huge challenge. This means that the first postnatal food to put on your plan is some easy-grab snacks.
Healthy energy bars do exist but watch out for the sugar content in many of them. Fruit and nuts can be easy to eat when you’re in between bottle washing or sitting down to nurse. If all you can manage is a piece of toast try to add something like peanut butter for a protein hit. Or keep some pre-sliced cheese or meat in the fridge to throw between two pieces of bread and call it a sandwich.
While breastfeeding does burn extra calories, it’s very easy to take in more than your baby is getting from you so, unfortunately, it doesn’t give you free access to the biscuit tin with no consequences. However, do remember that you have just grown and given birth to a whole new human and, quite frankly, you deserve to be fed cake like the goddess you are. So if you fancy a treat, don’t hold back! Your baby belly is beautiful and so are you.
One handed meals
Rarely will a new baby settle long enough to let you eat an actual meal alone! Many a meal will be a one-handed affair, either using the other arm to hold your baby to the breast or simply to cuddle them.
Planning meals that you can eat with just a fork will make them and you much calmer and happier as there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to cut up all your food before the baby wakes up, or eating a cold meal because you’re juggling a child. One-pot meals are ideal for this, so consider casseroles, curries and pasta dishes. Cut vegetables and, if you eat it, meat into small bite-sized pieces before cooking. Of course, if you have a freezer, these are just the thing to have prepared before your baby is born. Batch cook and freeze in portion sizes to suit your household, ideally in packages that are microwave safe from frozen so you don’t need to plan ahead at all. When you’re exhausted and just need to have something warm and nutritious you’ll thank your pre-birth self, or your lovely friend, neighbour or relative who popped meals in your freezer, when all you need to do is throw something into the microwave and zap to heat through.
Having platters of foods that are safe to have out on an easy-to-reach table or kept in the fridge to grab as you go, can be a helpful way to ensure that you eat enough even if you can’t sit down and have a meal all in one go.
A food platter might include finger foods like carrot, cucumber or bell pepper sticks, baby tomatoes, chunks of cheese, sliced meats,nuts and some sliced fruit. Add a pot of hummus or guacamole dip if you like it. Food platters can be a brilliant way to get through the day with a newborn when you’re on your own. If you can, have someone make it, or throw one together yourself before the day gets going.
If you can whizz up a smoothie (when the baby’s not sleeping, those blenders are noisy!) and pop it into a thermos, you’ve got a delicious and healthy, energy and vitamin packed drink that will keep you going between meals. Keeping some frozen fruit in the freezer means you can quickly throw this together – just add a splash of milk (cow’s or plant based) and, if you have one, a ripe banana. Delicious, nutritious and fast.
Planning your new baby mug!
If you’re an “I must sit down with a cuppa” sort of person then you’ll find a single serving thermos mug with a lid with a sipper opening to be one of your favourite baby must-buys. Hot drinks and children don’t mix so, for safety reasons, a lidded coffee cup is an important consideration for the essentials list. It’s like the baby knows when you’re about to drink and chooses that exact moment to request your attention, meaning that one universal experience of the new parent is the cold cuppa. This tragic scenario can be completely resolved with a really good thermos - meaning that no matter how long it takes for you to get through your favourite beverage, you can come back to it and still enjoy it hot and fresh. Just trust us on this one!
Preparation is key
Having a new baby is all-encompassing. Wonderful, magical and exhausting. Everyone needs to eat and we need to nourish our bodies as well as we can, so being prepared well in advance can make this time of new parenthood so much easier and less stressful. It is simply not possible to have too many meals frozen in advance so, if you love batch cooking, or have a loved one who wants to offer a gift, forget the cute baby vests and focus on filling that freezer!