In the hours after I delivered my daughter, the hospital brought me toast with butter, orange juice, and two eggs sunny side up. I gobbled it up and proclaimed it the best meal I'd ever eaten. (And I don't even like eggs.) When the hospital called weeks later to ask about my experience, I said I wanted to thank my labor nurse — and the hospital cafeteria. If you're anything like me, you know you're going to be hungry after you deliver. But what should you eat immediately after you give birth?
According to Baby Center, one genius woman wore her Fitbit during labor and found that she burned 1,383 calories giving birth. Because birth is basically an athletic event, and learning newborn care basics is basically an IQ test (3 a.m. swaddling lessons? Really?), it's important to re-fuel on the good stuff. Many cultures have deeply-engrained postpartum traditions, and it turns out, many traditional foods are great choices for your first meal — almost all are heavy on protein, iron, comfort, and calories.
Romper reached out to pre- and postnatal fitness specialist and registered dietician Anita Mirchandani for nutritious recipes you can bring to the hospital. Of course, it's your day, and if all you want is a Starbucks vanilla iced latte and a bucket of KFC, who'd judge you? Whatever meal you choose, I promise you'll remember it as the best you ever had. Even if it's hospital PB&J.
Foods High In Iron
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of restoring balance after birth by eating foods that promote yang, as reported in Slate. One postpartum Chinese food service serves up organ meats, like kidney and liver, as well as pigs' feet, which happen to be high in iron.
As Mirchandani tells Romper, iron provides the energy you'll need to power through postpartum. Other sources of iron include fortified cereals, prunes, and beef.
Chinese medicine stresses soups and teas postpartum, as well, because after delivery, digestion is considered slow and weak. If your stomach's not feeling 100 percent, fresh ginger grated into hot liquids might help. As for organ meat, postpartum paté, anyone?
Chicken Soup & Hot Chocolate
Pregnancy, labor, and birth take a serious toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. La cuarentena is a Mexican and Latin American postpartum tradition in which new moms soak up love and rest for the first 40 days after baby, according to The New York Times blog. Family members convene to cook meals for mom, preferably chicken soup and hot chocolate, to keep the body warm. Better yet, she's not supposed to lift a finger.
In Chiapas, Mexico, women visit an aromatherapy sauna at least twice during their 40-day recuperation, and sip atole, a traditional drink concocted from masa harina (hot cornmeal) and spiced with cinnamon, piloncillo, and vanilla.
Ghee & Milk With Turmeric
Ghee — a butter made of milk solids, butterfat, and water — is a popular ingredient in traditional Indian confinement recipes, as noted on Baby Center India. It's high in calcium and calories, which is great, because according to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, new moms need more calcium, especially if they're breastfeeding.
Directly after delivery, consider adding a half teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of warm milk. Turmeric may act as an anti-inflammatory, helping your body heal, and milk, of course, packs a protein and calcium double punch.
Mirchandani shares a few recipes, specially selected for Romper's readers, to take to the hospital on the big day, and one of them is slow-cooker meatballs. Why is this simple dish the perfect post-delivery food?
"The meatballs are a good source of protein to help you stay full longer, and contribute to the muscle repair your body will go through postpartum," says Mirchandani. "Protein is also important for nursing mothers. Add these meatballs to a whole-wheat baguette, pair it with a salad, or top a bowl of your favorite pasta with them!"
In a large mixing bowl combine:
1 pound lean ground beef
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup whole milk
½ cup chopped parsley
Tomato sauce, as desired
1. Roll golf ball sized balls of the meat mixture.
2. Arrange meatballs in slow cooker and cover in tomato sauce to your liking.
3. Cook on high for 2 hours.
Note: If freezing, cool to room temperature, then place in an airtight container. Reheat over the stove for best taste. Substitute whole-wheat breadcrumbs for a healthier twist, and reduced-fat 2 percent or 1 percent milk for whole milk.
Mirchandani also recommends these oatmeal pancakes as an awesome post-delivery breakfast.
"This recipe contains oat flour and oats," she explains. "Both are a good source of dietary fiber and are water-rich, which will keep you full for a longer period. Oats are considered lactogenic, so if you’re nursing, this could boost your milk supply as well."
½ cup oat flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1. Soak oats in two tablespoons of water overnight.
2. Place flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. Place milk, vanilla, oil, and egg in a bowl and mix well.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
5. Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat. Scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Note: Soak oats to ensure they’re soft. Quick-cooking oats are a time-saving option, too.