For those of you who frequent the BFF-Stone Meal booth at the Scotts Valley Farmers’ Market (held at the SV Community Center every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm) you may have grown accustomed to receiving our fun weekly informational handouts just to have them “poof” disappear before they became a regular read. I promise you won’t be able to fault me when I tell ‘deliver’ my explanation… Just as the crops in our fields are growing so is the Draper Family. Recently, we…….well I – delivered a beautiful baby girl! Caroline “Cara” Grace Draper was born on August 4th, 2014 at 2:19 am. She measured 20.5 inches long and weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Every inch and ounce of her is perfect. We are so blessed!
I’m feeling wonderful (thank you for asking!), so for this week’s newsletter I would like to share some postpartum wellness tips that have been particularly beneficial for me this time around. I have also included my favorite postpartum recipe for Broccoli Orzo featuring Stone Meal’s amazing ‘Di Cicco’ broccoli. If you know someone who is pregnant or has recently delivered please pass this along – after nine long months of pregnancy they deserve to feel great too!
Mandy Draper – BFF
Postpartum Wellness – Tips for a Healthy Mamma
Nine months of pregnancy, labor then delivery, and now you have an infant who requires your care 24 hours a day and even more if you’re breastfeeding. . . your body has been and is still going through a lot. It’s easy to become so absorbed in caring for your new baby that you neglect your own needs. Hopefully the tips below will help you heal, build energy, and avoid the “baby blues”. Consider these tips a minimum requirement – what your body really deserves is an awards ceremony.
General: The three most important things we can do for our body immediately following delivery are; hydrate (at least 8 servings of liquid per day), rest (sleep whenever you can), and relax (keep meals simple and don’t worry about keeping a spotless home). I know these tips are easier said than done. . . I recall some hormone-induced dust bunny tackling while my baby napped at 5 days postpartum. . . oy vey!
Regaining Strength: Following delivery it is important to focus on rebuilding your iron stores. I typically reach for lean red meat as my primary source of iron however due to digestive discomfort (see below) I personally don’t recommend this until at least few days postpartum. We can start rebuilding iron with leafy green veggies and egg yolks. Eat something high in Vitamin C to increase absorption of iron and avoid calcium with any iron rich meal which has the opposite effect. The perfect postpartum snack? A green smoothie (see previous post on leafy greens for a recipe).
Digestive Discomfort: No matter how you delivered (naturally or by cesarean) your organs/intestines are most likely not where they were when you started your journey to motherhood. You could experience some digestive discomfort in the first few days postpartum while things return to normal. In the meantime it is important to eat foods that are easy to digest (fruits are ideal) and avoid heavy foods like meats and cheese.
When the Box Cars Back Up: The idea of having a normal morning routine after everything your body has just been through is not a pleasant thought. Thankfully nature is kind and most women are backed up for a few days following delivery. It is important that this back up not last too long, however, to get things going try to stay hydrated and eat a lot of high soluble fiber foods and fruits (especially figs). If that doesn’t get things moving try drinking 4 ounces of prune juice on an empty stomach, followed by 2 glasses of hot water.
Energy: Fatigue is the most common complaint of new mothers for obvious reasons. A healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to combat fatigue.
Diet: A well-balanced diet is essential in maintaining vitality. Aim for 5 to 6 mini meals which regulate blood sugar levels better than the typical 3 square meals. Two vitamins that play an essential role in energy metabolism and stamina are Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin E. Meat and beans are good sources of Niacin. Good sources for Vitamin E include nuts (especially almonds), seeds, asparagus, olives, and vegetable oils. Be sure to avoid energy zapping foods such as refined sugars, white flour, alcohol and caffeine.
Exercise: Keep exercise mild at the beginning – walking is perfect. If after exercising you notice that you need to break out the maxi pads again it is time to take to bed with your baby and a good book – your body is telling you that you have overdone it. In general, more strenuous activities can be resumed around 6 weeks postpartum.
Mood: The “baby blues” is much more common than previously acknowledged. In most cases much of “blues” is a result of exhaustion and stress. A new mom needs to get adequate rest and should consume whole grains regularly for the stress-reducing B-complex vitamins they provide. In some cases the “blues” can be directly linked to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. The most common culprits are:
Zinc. Good sources include eggs, fish, beef, garlic, and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C. Good sources include tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens (especially kale), peppers, and citrus fruits.
Calcium. Good sources include dairy products, leafy greens (especially kale) and sesame seeds.
Omega 3s. Good sources include deep sea fish (watch out for mercury) and walnut oil.
Folic Acid. Good sources include avocados, leafy greens (especially spinach), and fruit. A well rounded diet combined with a daily walk outdoors in the fresh air (and a daily shower) can do wonders at warding off the baby blues. If you are concerned that you may have postnatal depression, a more serious clinical condition, contact your medical practitioner right away to discuss treatment options.
‘Di Cicco’ Broccoli Orzo
This recipe has so many wonderful attributes I just need to stand on my soapbox for a minute. It is fast and simple to prepare, it can be eaten hot or cold, it can be served as a main course side dish or snack, and it keeps in the refrigerator for at least a week! It is the perfect thing to have on hand postpartum (as long as your baby is not sensitive to cruciferous vegetables which have been known to give some babies gas. So far we have been lucky and this has not been a problem for either of our daughters). For a gluten free variation try using brown rice instead of orzo. This recipe makes four to six servings.
Ingredients: 1-½ cups whole wheat orzo 1 pound broccoli cut into bite size pieces ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons pine nuts ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) ¾ cups feta cheese ¾ cups chopped black olives
Method: Steam the broccoli until tender and set aside (I use the same pot that I cook the pasta in to reduce the number of dishes I have to do after cooking). Bring a large pot of salted water (the water should taste like the ocean) to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the pine nuts cook until starting to brown (about 3 minutes), add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). When the orzo is al dente drain it into a large pasta bowl. Add the broccoli and the heated oil mixture to the orzo and toss to coat. Add the feta and olives and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.