Posted by: coachingparents | November 27, 2007

Filling Your Belly: Families Setting Up a Food Tree


The day we brought our newborn son home from the hospital, our friends Ned and Margaret brought us dinner. I can remember it precisely – a mushroom lasagna, green salad, a loaf of fresh-baked French bread and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. I was stunned by their incredible generosity. It was one of the most delicious and satisfying meals I have ever had.

Making meals for new parents, for busy two income families, or for those with or caring for an illness, is one of the greatest gifts one can give.

Postpartum mothers need lots of rest, nurturing, and nourishment. Many women focus on the birth, thinking it’s all over when the baby is born. But really it has just begun. New mothers need special care in the first few postpartum weeks. They need time to deal with their complex emotions, their changing body and the awesome task of infant care.

There is little social recognition of what it takes to be a new mother. Some estimate that half of all new mothers suffer from some level of postpartum depression. I think a lot of that stems from our expectations, both societies and our own, to do it all. What we need to do is not easy, especially for a women accustomed to taking care of others. We need to ask for help.

Preparing and delivering meals is a tremendous help. It not only frees up both parents from shopping, cooking, and cleaning but it provides loving nourishment. No outfit, no matter how adorable, will matter as much as providing meals.

One way to make sure you will be fed is to plan it during your Blessingway. Ask your friends and family to sign up for a dinner. Not everyone will want or be able to do this so figure out a graceful way for people not to sign up. Bringing a basket of muffins or a coupon for a delivered pizza is just as supportive and is welcome months after a child is born.

Order the list by Day 1, Day 2 and so on, not by day of the week. You won’t know when the birth-day is yet. Friends can cook more than once. When your baby is born call the friend in charge of the list. She will then call everyone and tell them that Day 3 is now Tuesday. It will take some rearranging so the person organizing it needs to be flexible but persistent. Discuss dietary needs and wants at your Blessingway. When it’s time to deliver dinner, keep your visit short and offer any other help if you’re so inclined. Some families leave a cooler by the front door and ask friends not to ring or knock and just leave dinner. Add a note of congratulations or any cooking directions they might need for the dinner. Plan to have a new meal brought every day for the first week then check back in with the parents. They may be swimming in leftovers so you may be able to have friends bring a meal every other day for the next two weeks. You may also find that certain foods affect you or your baby so tell the organizer so she can pass the word. Many new moms avoid cabbage, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, and other gas-producing foods.

Nola noticed her baby spit up more whenever she ate raw spinach or lettuce so she stopped eating them. She ate cooked spinach and slowly introduced raw greens back into her diet when her daughter was about a month old. By then her daughters’ digestive system had calmed down and she could tolerate a wider variety of tastes and compounds in her mom’s breast milk.

If cooking isn’t your thing or if a new family needs more meals than friends can provide, you can call on a gourmet meals delivery service. “Food is the most powerful drug we can take,” says personal chef, Susan Sears Smith, “And new moms need fresh foods in beautiful abundance.”  The menus and particulars of the services vary but each chef is dedicated to providing wholesome ingredients cooked with skillful care.

With the bounty of fresh foods available and the trained chefs ready to cook for you in most metropolitan areas, there’s no excuse for not eating well. Move beyond pizza, fast food, and frozen dinners. “The connection between food and health and healing is very important,” says Smith. “I like to delight the taste buds and take care of the body.”

Creating a food tree
Use this as a template to create a food tree:
Name
Phone
Email
Availability
Possible meals

Postpartum foods for nursing mothers
Avoid:
• Gas-producing foods such as cabbage, onions tomatoes, broccoli, fried, and sugary foods
• Avoid beans unless they are part of your regular diet
• Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, because they may be contaminated with mercury
• Spicy foods (some babies tolerate spicy foods better than others)
• Alcohol
• Caffeinated beverages

Add:
• Lots and lots of water!
• Avoid constipation by including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet
• Prunes and bran can help if you have a tendency toward constipation
• Iron-rich foods such as red meats, dried beans and peas, or enriched cereals to avoid anemia
• Calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and dark green leafy vegetables.
About The Author …
Anna Stewart, B.A., C.M.T., C.H.T., mothers three young children, one with special needs. In her classes, workshops and services, she weaves her expertise as a professional writer, creative artist and student of rhythm dance. Her intention is to provide a safe environment for women to explore their personal experiences and feelings as mothers. Her skills as well as her passion to bear witness to others provides a solid base for compassionate understanding of the individual and the larger community.

Anna offers a number of classes in the Boulder, Colorado area. She can be reached at 303-499-7681 or via e-mail at anna@motherhands.com.

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