In the thick of my third trimester nesting frenzy, I dug our old mini-fridge out of the garage, made a list of my favorite foods, and put together a glorious little postpartum snack station in our bedroom. My midwives recommended filling it with foods rich in protein and vitamin C to aid healing and recovery. So yeah, I did that, but my husband and I also made sure it was packed full of all the foods postpartum moms crave: basically, everything we couldn't eat (or felt guilty about eating) during pregnancy. Fortunately, there was a fair amount of overlap between the two (at least the protein part, but I kept some oranges and stuff up there, too).
If you want a postpartum mom to love you forever, make her a basket of all the stuff she loves to eat (preferably pre-sliced, portioned, or otherwise prepped in a way that makes it super easy to eat one-handed). Though folks are always talking about pregnancy cravings, in my experience, I was even hungrier after giving birth than I was before. Between having my sleep interrupted all the time and making lots of milk for a newborn, I needed to eat all the time to keep my energy up.
So I was always happy when I'd wake up from a nap (yay, naps!) to discover that my husband or some other wonderful person in my life had brought me something tasty to eat. If and when the zombie apocalypse comes, I'm totally making space for those people in my getaway car (as long as they haven't been bitten). I'll love them forever, for having the foresight to know that I'd love receiving things like the following:
I'm of the opinion that sushi is perfectly fine to eat at any time, as long as the fish in question has been handled by reputable, health-code following purveyors and isn't too high in mercury or PCBs. However, a lot of Americans don't know that (or believe that), so if she's a sushi-loving mama, she may have either sworn it off entirely during pregnancy or endured unnecessary stares and guilt every time she indulged. Either way, guilt-free sushi is a great food to bring to a sushi fan who just had a baby.
Cured meats and deli meats routinely end up on "things pregnant ladies should avoid" lists, because they're apparently a really tasty way to contract listeriosis. So chances are, your favorite new mom hasn't enjoyed a decent sandwich or charcuterie plate since before her positive pregnancy test. Bring some over to her house if you know she's a fan; but don't ring her doorbell when you arrive.
Smoked fish also ends up on a lot of pregnancy no-no lists, which is super sad for those of us who love smoked salmon and other smoky seafood yumminess. No one ever went wrong bringing some lox and bagels to my house, whether immediately postpartum or y'know, tomorrow around noon or whenever.
Raw Milk Cheeses
Raw milk cheese: snatched by the pregnancy food police, gifted by great friends of postpartum foodie moms. If you know she's missed this, and you put some in a new mom care package, that basically makes you an angel.
Things That Are Easy To Eat With One Hand
When I first had my son, he basically refused to be put down and ate constantly, so I pretty much always had to do everything one-handed (especially when my partner and extended family weren't around to help out). Anything nutrient-dense, tasty, easy to grab and eat with one hand without getting crumbs all over the baby's head, is a major win.
Raw oysters are one of my favorite things in the entire world. However, there's pretty much no reputable organization who will say those are OK during pregnancy, so it was the biggest treat ever when I finally got to enjoy some after giving birth. Anyone who volunteers to hold an oyster-loving postpartum mama's baby while she gets her raw bar on for the first time in almost a year is basically guaranteed sainthood. (Or at least a permanent place on her friend's list.)
Steaks That Aren't Charred Beyond Recognition
If the postpartum mama in your life is anything like me, she needs a worthwhile steak experience as soon as possible post-pregnancy. Of the many, many indignities moms suffer during pregnancy, having to eat steaks well done might be the cruelest. "Yes, we know you're probably giving up a lot of your favorite things right now, like bourbon and not having to pee every thirty seconds," the pregnancy gods say. "But here, dine on glorified shoe leather for the next nine months, without the benefit of a few glasses of red, on the off chance that there might be pathogens in this formerly delicious steak."
Brunchy Runny Egg Thingies, If She's Into That
I feel obligated to mention this for all the eggs Benedict loving mamas out there, though I personally am not one for undercooked eggs under any circumstances. But really, just take a postpartum mom out for brunch or bring the brunch to her. Regardless of her stance on runny eggs, she could probably use a mimosa or two.
Anything That She Loves And Is Not Expected To Share
Postpartum recovery (and milk-making, if she's breastfeeding) is hungry work. Basically, if you want a new mom to love you forever, just create a list of her favorite foods, coordinate with her friends and loved ones to make sure she always has them, and then never, ever ask her for a bite.
Whatever, wine is too a food and it's something she probably hasn't enjoyed in months. Now that she's not sharing her bloodstream with a fetus who doesn't know how to party, she can finally indulge in peace. Help her out, you know?