Baby #2 has arrived, and what a whirlwind the first month has been! After being induced on a Saturday and delivering a healthy baby on Sunday morning, we packed up our apartment and moved a few states away that Wednesday. As I sat on the floor of our new, empty house nursing my newborn and watching my toddler eat cake for dinner using a cardboard box as a table, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (both, I did both... and often). Screw thriving. Those initial days are all about surviving. And I'm happy to say that I survived (thanks to family, friends, and a well-timed cake delivery). Here are a few nutrition tips to help you do the same.
- Prior to delivery, create a short, simple, and realistic game plan for healthy eating (and then allow for flexibility because what's actually simple and realistic might change after birth!). My daily plan was (and still is) to drink 8+ glasses of water and eat fruits and vegetables with at least one meal. While unlikely to yield any healthy eating awards, the plan helps to fight fatigue and aid in digestion (both of utmost importance in the postpartum period!). And on days when I, too, have cake for dinner, at least I'm putting something beneficial into my body!
- Stay away from strict food rules. I mentioned flexibility above, but it deserves a shoutout of its own. You give so much with a newborn. Trying to adhere to a list of food restrictions while also facing lack of sleep and a surge in hormones will only leave you feeling (extra) drained and potentially defeated. Besides, even during more stable times (read: not immersed in life with a newborn), it's the small changes that prove more sustainable and make for longer lasting results.
- Let people cook for you. Of course, someone needs to offer first, but if they do, eagerly agree to it. An assortment of snacks or your toddler's leftovers will only serve as a decent dinner replacement for a couple days. You're going to want a real meal, and you likely won't want to cook it yourself. If the offered meal isn't the most nutritious, opt for a smaller portion and try to make healthier choices the rest of the day (think fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats via fruits, vegetables, Greek yogurt, protein bars, grilled chicken, nuts and nut butters).
- When ordering takeout (or dining out, if you're adventurous), always add on a side salad or include veggies in the fresh, grilled, roasted or steamed varieties. No pressure to make the salad your meal, but incorporating vegetables will help fill you up (thanks, fiber!) and may encourage you to make the entire order a healthier one. At the very least, it will help balance out a less nutritious choice - just try not to go overboard with the more indulgent options (think a slice of pizza instead of half the pie).
Every postpartum journey looks different, so it might take time (and potentially professional help) to navigate and overcome your own challenges. My keys to survival include consistency (I've devoured the exact same smoothie for breakfast nearly every morning since delivery), fresh air (even if its before sunrise or after sunset when the temperatures aren't dangerously high), and asking for and accepting help (step aside, pride - I could never actually "do it all," but even attempting to do so at this point wouldn't benefit me, the baby, or the rest of my family). Of course, I value making nutrient-dense choices too (for improved energy, mood and weight loss), but I've also enjoyed the occasional handful of fries, bowl of ice cream, and slice of cake without any guilt or regret. And now, at 5+ weeks out in a furniture-filled home, laughter wins out far more often than tears. It's time to thrive.
Fellow mamas, what wellness tips helped you survive those first few weeks postpartum? Please share below!