On the long, long list of things I was thinking about when it came to giving birth, “What I will eat after the baby arrives?” was not high on the list. In fact, I don’t remember thinking about it at all until after my son was born and enough time had passed (an hour or two, maybe?) that I was able to form semi-complete thoughts. So, allow me to share some things no one tells you about your postpartum meal, in case you are ahead of me and already thinking about it. Or, in case you’re not, but just now realizing that it’s kind of a thing (and a big deal, if I do say so myself).
In my case, some of my family members went to the fresh Mexican chain restaurant across the street from the hospital (which also happens to be one of my favorites) and got a whole spread that was shared between me, my spouse, and the new grandparents, who’d all been hanging out at the hospital for a few hours. It was glorious. What was especially great about that meal was that one of the nurses joked that she always knew which rooms had new babies because she could smell their food.
Based on what other moms have said about their own postpartum meals, and my own experience, I think the following is also true:
The dinner you enjoyed on vacation with your family five years ago? Nope. Your wedding meal? That's a false. Someone else’s wedding meal at that super-expensive venue? I don't think so. Your favorite food, prepared by a loved one? Not even close, my friend. Whatever you eat from that bed in that labor and delivery room (or recovery room, depending) is going to be tops.
Depending on hours and location and varying hospital policies that I’m not even aware of, I imagine the type of food you have access to could be pretty limited. Not to fear if you find yourself with only hospital cafeteria food to choose from, I’ve seen plenty of women say that it still did the trick.
Not only that, but I’ve heard people like bringing things to new moms and new babies and that they like to feel helpful. I mean, in my own life, I brought my friend some carbonated water on her wedding day to help soothe her stomach, and it made me feel involved, which is a special, awesome feeling. If I should find myself in need of food after my next delivery, I would not hesitate to ask someone to bring me some.
I didn't eat nearly as much of the meal as I thought I was going to because my exhaustion and my excitement were combining to make my stomach feel pretty jumpy.
OK, this is going to give away the fact that I have zero chill, but you guys, the fact is that it’s hard to focus on eating when your life has completely changed (and your body feels like it’s turned itself inside out even if it's been 20 (more or less) hours since you’ve last eaten.
I would imagine that a few people reading this might think, “Ugh, take-out from a chain fast food restaurant? No, thanks,” which is totally fine and my feelings aren’t hurt. If I’m going to be completely honest, it's not my first choice for a special occasion meal, either.
Still, in that moment? It was absolutely perfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
My own son was born in the early afternoon so I found myself eating a late lunch/early dinner, which really isn’t that strange. However, I wanted to give a shout-out to women whose babies were born in the middle of the night and had limited options. I see you.
I’m already excited for the birth of my second child for many reasons, including the tacos. You probably already know this, but just in case it helps to hear it again: you just carried a baby for 40 or so weeks. You just birthed a baby for what may have taken hours and hours of excruciating pain. You should be welcome to eat whatever you want, and as much of it as you want, full stop.