By: Melissa Herbst, new mom, real food for real life recipe creator, and Ravenclaw enthusiast at @melissasfoodfreedom
On March 13th, 2019 I gave birth to my first child, and my world forever changed. For the first six weeks of my newborn’s life, I wanted my time, my energy, and my attention to remain focused solely on his needs. But those six weeks were also a season of recovering from a major health event in my body — giving birth — and no matter the method, it always requires recovery and down time for the mother. I knew that to give my best time, energy, and attention to my newborn, I had to make sure I was fueling my body to the best of my limited abilities and properly recovering with plenty of sleep. Staying healthy in those first six weeks didn’t mean making fancy meals or doing intense workouts like it has in the past — but the small efforts I did make for my own health made a big difference in my ability to enjoy the transition to motherhood.
Here are five things I did to stay healthy, that helped me to stay sane, and gave me the energy I needed to truly enjoy those first few beautiful weeks with my newly expanded family.
1) STAY HYDRATED
Hydration makes an enormous difference in our body’s ability to cope with the stresses of each and every day. Especially postpartum, and especially for breastfeeding mothers, staying hydrated allows for better recovery, better sleep, and even a better mood. One way I kept myself hydrated was by investing in a great water bottle with a straw — that way I didn’t need to tip the bottle or unscrew anything to instantly drink water when attending to my newborn.
I also made a pitcher of herbal iced tea every week and kept it in my fridge. Water can sometimes get boring, so having a variety of beverages on hand every time I opened the fridge helped me to easily get the hydration that my body needed so desperately.
And of course, having bottles of Medlie in the fridge helped me to make a nutrient-dense hydration choice! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my Medlie obsession has only increased postpartum — I try to drink one bottle every day with lunch or a Veggie Shot in the morning to make sure that no matter the amount of fresh veggies in my kitchen, I know I’m getting extra servings of whole, organic vegetables in my diet through their Veggie Drinks and Veggie Shots.
2) LEAN ON HEALTHY CONVENIENCE FOODS
Those first six weeks postpartum were filled with diaper changes, frequent feedings and Google-ing “Am I doing this right??” countless times. There wasn’t time to make a proper dinner every night, let alone three meals a day.
My husband and I relied on family and our slow cooker for meals the first week or so — but for the weeks following, we utilized healthier convenience food options to get food on the table. “Convenience foods” can often be an artificially flavored, high-sodium, preservative-filled nightmare. However, in recent years I’ve discovered so many healthy alternatives on grocery shelves and freezer aisles that are made with real and whole organic foods that have helped me survive postpartum.
I bought pre-seasoned, pre-cooked animal protein in bulk so that preparing protein was only a matter of “reheat and serve”. I also purchased a lot of jarred sauces, marinades, and frozen veggies so that making my meals only meant microwaving some veggies, adding some protein, and pouring on a ready-to-go marinara, curry, or other sauce on top.
And the other great thing about keeping Medlie on hand is that their Veggie Drinks and Veggie Shots are already ready-to-go. I would often grab a refreshing Veggie Drink and pair it with a protein packed salad for an easy lunch, or if I wanted something more savory I would bulk up a heated bottle of Medlie (my favorite is Tomato Gazpacho!) with shredded pork or chicken and avocado for a quick dinner. The different and unique flavors of Medlie really upped the deliciousness of my simple “convenience foods” and made them complete meals for both my husband and I at mealtime.
For some new mamas, sleeping is easier said than done. We’ve all heard “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but that isn’t always possible! It took me about two weeks before I was able to fall asleep quickly no matter what time of the day — before then, I definitely lacked proper sleep. My best sleep advice for those first few weeks is to get used to a (very) early bedtime with baby, and sleep after morning feedings as long as you’re able to. Every baby is different, but in my experience, I slept better resting after nightfall and into the late morning than I did trying to drop everything and nap in the middle of the day. But above all, after you listen to all the countless advice you get, just do what feels right for you!
4) ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE
If my time for cooking meals were short, my time for stocking up on groceries was even shorter. My free time while the baby napped was limited, and I didn’t want to spend it running to the store any longer than I had to. While I headed to the grocery store for animal protein and fresh produce, I shaved most of my time off of my shopping trip by ordering the majority of my groceries online.
I made new orders for my pantry staples each time I needed the essentials and relied on a consistent Medlie shipment for my veggie needs. I recommend getting the 14-day or 30-day subscribe-and-save option — it saves you money on every order, and you set it and forget it, so you know you’ll get more Medlie in the mail every few weeks without having to go back on the site and order it every time. I love the Drink and Shot Variety Pack, it has all the easy-to-love flavors all in one order. It’s been a lifesaver for me!
5) GET OUTSIDE
It’s so easy to feel like the entire world is inside the four walls of your home when you’re just starting out with a newborn. If weather allows, I highly recommend getting outside with the stroller or on your own for a short walk. I always went out for a 15-minute solo walk right after my husband got home from work — that time was so great for me to feel the breeze, move a little more, clear my head, and get some much needed Vitamin D. On the weekends, or when we have some extra time, my husband and I head out together for a longer stroll — and as the weather has been warming up and the days are getting longer, we find it incredibly beneficial and healthy for our mental state.
I hope these top tips have been helpful! Always remember that you’re not in this alone and try your best to take care of yourself so you can be the best version of you for your new little one.