If you've ever had a baby, you know that the first meal you eat after childbirth is a really big deal. As in, you're hungrier than you've ever been. So hungry, in fact, that sometimes you don't even care if all there is to eat is hospital food. But what if you’re due on Thanksgiving? How can you manage to have Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital after you have a baby?
Sure, you'll have a lot of other things on your mind. But hey, priorities. And I get it. Childbirth is the hardest thing ever and it makes a girl hungry, okay? Plus, Thanksgiving is supposed to be the greatest holiday ever for pregnant ladies. After hanging in there for nine long months, it doesn't seem fair to be deprived of the feast you deserve. Never mind the fact that this is your first official holiday including the newest family member. Vending machine snacks hardly seem appropriate. Then again, neither does having a fully catered Thanksgiving dinner delivered to the maternity ward. There are bound to be some patients who aren't up to joining the party, after all.
I spoke with Sara Pasciolla, patient care director for labor and delivery and antepartum at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, about how to make sure you get the stuffing and gravy you need. Her answer? It doesn't involve the hospital kitchen, for one thing.
“While hospitals have great healthy and delicious food options, patients can always bring in that special meal that they’ve been thinking about," Pasciolla tells Romper in an email.
As for your what your special meal should entail, I also spoke with certified postpartum support practitioner and founder of Betterpostpartum.com, Natalie Telyatnikov, who offered examples of some nourishing Thanksgiving favorites that would be perfect for a mom who’s just given birth and might be breastfeeding.
“Thanksgiving is actually an ideal time of year to become a new mother, because the feeling of the season and of a good Thanksgiving meal — one of warmth and coziness — is precisely what a healing new mother needs most, after giving birth,” Telyatnikov tells Romper. She adds that the general rule of thumb is that new moms should eat warming foods: Foods that are warm in temperature and warming to the digestive system. Among her suggestions: “Hot chamomile tea, spiced ciders or cocoas, hot bone broth soups, stews, and slow-cooked or stewed meats (like delicious Thanksgiving turkey), and hot bowls of oatmeal or rice, cooked with ghee, honey, and warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and molasses.” Another warming Thanksgiving-specific option would be a mashed, roasted sweet potato with cinnamon, and “hot, stewed fruits, (like the inside of a warm apple pie).” Um, yum.
Is there a time when you shouldn’t get your Thanksgiving on as a new mom? “Any patients who are in labor are generally not allowed to have anything other than clear liquid diets," Pasciolla warns. "Also, if they are going to be having a c-section performed that day, they will be told by their doctors when they should stop eating their Thanksgiving meal." There might be other medical conditions that would prevent patients from eating, of course, but those are the two main culprits. Generally, if you’ve delivered vaginally, you can typically eat right away; with a C-section, not necessarily (think ice chips and clear liquids at first).
Most hospitals try to be as festive as possible during the holidays, so you may be able to get your special Thanksgiving meal from their menu. If not, it’s always a good idea to have a family member or your partner at the ready to go get you a plate of Thanksgiving fare. You earned it, mama. Congrats and happy Thanksgiving! You have a lot to be grateful for this year.