Blog post by Jenni
One of the things most of our clients learn about me is that I love cookbooks. I also seem to have grown up being infused with a love of lists, and I make mental lists even when there is no paper available. A recipe, to me, evokes both of these in a succinct, yet entirely flexible format for ultimate enjoyment. Like many recipes, the ‘recipe’ I used for my postpartum time worked well, with some tweaks along the way. Like all recipes, it may work for some and not for others, depending on what you have in your kitchen already (though that’s part of the recipe) and what your body and mind want and need at the time. I don’t know anyone who has sailed through the fourth trimester without a few days (or more) of discouragement and challenge so I was really prepared for emotional mood swings and lots of doubt. Physically you have to recover from the birth also (my first preoccupation). The combination that worked for me is below. Feel free to substitute as needed, or to ask your midwives (wink, wink) for other suggestions.
Fourth Trimester Wellness
- Rest and physical relaxation
- A key support person
- Community surrounding
- Bodywork for as many in the family as you can afford
- Gentle steps outwards into the broader community
Begin the fourth trimester with a home set-up that is as restful and as physically relaxing as possible. This may be hard with older kids and other responsibilities but try and keep your space as gentle on you and your new baby as possible. We were lucky in that our teenagers are quite self-reliant, other than meals, and Christy and I were able to cuddle with Haven a good part of every day after he was born. We had a couple of interruptions to the restful space (he was born just a few days before the fourth of July) and I just kept as cocooned as possible, sleeping as much as possible.
The key then is to stay in that space for at least ten days. I didn’t move far from my bed for at least 9 days; on the tenth day I walked down the driveway to the mailbox and back. That’s all. I believe that the time I took (and was able to take – so grateful for a little bit of paid work leave) was one of the key reasons that Haven breastfed so well. He still doesn’t have an amazing latch (at 7 months!) but I gave my body the physical rest it needed to help us both learn how to breastfeed and for my physical body to heal from birth. Ten days is just a minimum, by the way; cross-culturally forty days is much more common.
Add in a key support person, partner or like-minded family member to help ease this physical transition. For me, Christy’s physical presence in the house constantly for the first week and her making and feeding me meals totally made it possible for me to enjoy the early time with Haven. Her knowledge and experience as a mom before and as a midwife of course didn’t hurt either, but you don’t need to have a midwife live with you 24/7 to feel supported and able to focus on your baby. An identified person who knows your probable needs postpartum and who is relatively comfortable with babies can and has made a huge difference for new parents who have just birthed. I’ve seen it over and over again as a midwife, and so we planned for Christy to have the least amount of other responsibilities in early July as she could manage to do and still pay our bills. I was lucky to have additional support people too, after our practice work started up again. My mother arrived after about three weeks and appeared a little surprised at our already established routine. She helped our garden survive the hottest part of the summer, and her presence and her stories of me as a baby made those next two weeks very sweet as we watched Haven growing and having more alert periods. My dad visited around week eight, listened to all my excitement and my worries equally, and got to witness the first smiles and giggles and Haven trying to roll over. Christy’s parents, our constant support people, continued helping us out regularly with house stuff and being with Haven when I returned to work in September.
Our community is amazing and we let them surround us in the postpartum. So much generosity!We had not organized meal deliveries (which IS something we recommend to clients in our practice), but our community stepped up and about every three days for the first four weeks we had lovely meals cooked or picked up for us, and no one stayed too long! We did make a typical mistake and had three sets of people visit the day after he was born, but we quickly realized that was too much for me and for him and we dialed it way back for the first week. Everyone who offered something was totally fine with us setting limits on how they could help, and I was glad that Christy could help set these boundaries for all of our sake.
The one exception to leaving the house initially may be to add in some bodywork or other healing treatments for you as the birthing parent and the baby. We got preventative and healing bodywork for both him and I AND Christy, several times in the first three weeks, and all of us did so much better because of that. Cranio-sacral or similar bodywork is such a wonderful start for babies, as I’ve seen again and again, and Haven was no exception. It even seemed to accelerate the disappearance of the mild jaundice he had, though there is nothing in the research that I can find that would support that. Our appointments were made in the middle of the day (to minimize time spent in traffic) and were short initially. We also only went to practitioners who we know to be good with babies so that he and I could both go at the same time. (The MotherBloom website has a list of these, and people who want to gift something to new parents can get gift certificates for them from most of these practitioners.)
There are lots of additional things that can help individuals, but the time does come when you want to be out in the wider world again. The ninth or tenth week mark was very emotional for me. This was about the time when Christy started to have more births again, and five nights in a row of being with Haven almost completely on my own really wore me out. I had also started working three days a week and, though Haven was sleeping two long stretches a day, I was still tired from the feedings every two hours at night. Luckily, I had been considering another part of the ‘prescription’ I often talk to new parents about: community building with other parents. At the last minute, I contacted Lanell Coultas about her local Mothers Unfolding group and was able to join that. It was a five-week one-morning-per-week get together facilitated by Lanell and as an amazing bonus we were fed by a lovely chef and parent herself, Raini Gomez, who also held babies when needed. The combination of nourishing food that I didn’t have to plan and prepare myself, and the lovely reflections that Lanell offered us were exactly what helped me enjoy the new baby time and relax into my role as a parent. As a bonus, I discovered the book Momma Zen through Lanell and that was inspirational to read during these weeks. The people in this group created a community too, as we found common questions and interests and connected individually as well. I definitely credit that group and the peer-to-peer support with helping to further ease the next round of transitions, as we as a family figure out how to have two working parents and still meet all our commitments with home schooling one teenager and our daily farm chores, amongst other things.
This recipe has and is working really well for us. We are figuring out together how to have a sustainable and happy life, enjoying the support of each other and our community.
Last Thursday at our group prenatal we made several recipes that everyone enjoyed. I tried to make them easy for people to prepare. The menu included: “clean out the refrigerator” quinoa salad, sautéed greens, “cashew cheese” dip, and chocolate pumpkin truffles.
1 cup leftover cooked quinoa
1 can black beans, drained and soaked in just boiled water for 10 minutes
2 green onions, chopped
half green pepper, chopped
small daikon radish, chopped
small amount purple cabbage, chopped
small amount kale, chopped
Mix all together in large bowl, I like to chop vegetables in very small pieces
Dress with combination of these: olive or sesame oil, soy sauce, a bit of honey, rice or other vinegar, salt, freshly ground pepper
Mix salad and dressing well, allow to sit for a bit before eating for flavors to meld, Enjoy!
1 bunch kale, collards, or other green of your choice, chopped (I like to cut the rib out of the middle of the leaf and chop into small chunks, then cut the leaf into bite size pieces)
1-2 TBSP olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
1-2 TBSP rice vinegar
1-2 TBSP nutritional yeast
Melt oil or ghee in skillet over medium heat, do not allow to smoke. Add chopped rib pieces and sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add greens. Sauté for several minutes, until greens are easily chewed when tasted. Remove from heat, add rice vinegar and nutritional yeast. Mix well and enjoy.
Cashew Cheese Spread
This recipe is from Heather Crosby at Yum Universe. We really like her cookbook.
1 1/2 cups cashews soaked 2-24 hours, then drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pure water
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
In a blender or food processor, puree together all ingredients until super smooth. Enjoy!
This last recipe I tore out of a Wheatsville Breeze newspaper years ago and just recently actually made it….two times in the last week 🙂 It’s very tasty with the coffee liqueur but we made it with apple juice for group prenatal. I replaced the vanilla wafers with gluten-free short bread cookies I found at Wheatsville and I replaced powdered sugar with combination of maple sugar, coconut sugar, and cane sugar- and I used half of the sugar the recipe calls for.
When Jonah, my 17 year old, was a toddler we went to Boggy Creek Farm every Wednesday morning. We watched the chickens, played in the sand, and bought lots of veggies for our week’s meals. I have such fond memories of these mornings at Boggy Creek, Carol Ann and Larry, the farmers, are so friendly and helpful; I learned much of my early homesteading from them. Carol Ann wrote an amusing book about chicken antics at the farm and she was always sharing recipes, like this one that I made at group prenatal last week. It is a great introduction to cooking and eating greens of all kinds: kale, collards, chard, mustard, brussels….I hope you try it out, you can tell this piece of paper has been around for awhile.
This next recipe came to me from a client who brought these yummy cookies to us (well…to Jenni really but Laurel and I couldn’t help but eat several) after Haven was born. They are so delicious, gluten-free, and nutrient dense. There is 24 hour advance preparation needed for soaking the oats-this caught us by surprise when we made them the first time. Thank you Anita for sharing this recipe for Oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies from Recipes To Nourish.
- 2 organic carrots, peeled
- 2 kale leaves, remove stem, tear into chunks
- 1 teaspoon dried nettle
- ½ cup cold pasture butter (I use this or this)
- ½ cup honey (I use local raw clover creamed)
- 1 teaspoon gluten free organic vanilla extract (I buy this)
- 2 cups soaked oats, from day before
- 4 tablespoons chia gel, from day before
- 1 ½ cups sprouted brown rice flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup gluten free chocolate chips
Full recipe with preparation instructions can be found HERE
Several months ago I signed up via a free month subscription promo for Tandy Gutierrez’s Mat & Kitchen pilates website. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into but I am usually up for new things, a friend recommended it, and I was looking for new ways to get some exercise. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. The videos are a short 30 minutes, they make me feel good, Tandy describes things very well, and the way she talks about exercise and nutrition is very centering. After a few months of regularly doing the videos however, I realized that the diastasis recti (vertical separation of the abdominal muscles) that occurred during my pregnancies many years ago was starting to get a little bigger and was becoming uncomfortable. I emailed Tandy asking if she had any advice for helping heal diastasis and she replied with an overwhelming yes! I explained to her that this is a problem I encounter with many of my clients after pregnancy. She then sent me many videos that are specifically for healing postpartum, no matter how many years ago the babies were born. She also sent this great offer below for all of my clients ! I am hoping that many of you take advantage of her generous 1 month free offer. Tandy is very approachable if you have questions and there are lots of great healthy recipes on her website for growing families.
This from Tandy:
I’m so happy to give you access to my site to see if it’s a fit for you.
Please ‘like’ the Mat&Kitchen fan page on Facebook if you haven’t already. Then explore the M&K website with the promo code below. Guest access is limited and by invite only.
The code below gives you 30 days FREE on my site www.matandkitchen.com. It activates as soon as you complete the ‘Sign-Up’ info on the site. It zeros out your cart and charges you nothing.
On any day 1-30 you may ‘cancel’ the account if it’s not a fit for you but if you love M&K on day 31 you will be billed and begin your subscription to the site. Canceling is super easy from ‘My Account’ once you are logged in. It’s just a button click at any point.
Once you are on the site you are able to explore a full month’s archive of my 30-minute workouts that are posted fresh every 3 days, 300+ gluten and dairy free recipes and of course the M&K Food Reset to crack your own food code.
With an M&K subscription you have direct access to me as your personal trainer via email and social media any time you need motivation, support or guidance.
Plus, because you are using this promo code when you continue your subscription you will automatically get to keep the 30 day rewind on your account plus the ‘On the Mat Mommas’ custom folder in the account to start with 21 workouts in your video library, rather than just the single ‘Video of the Day’ as general new M&K subscribers do.
Please use the promo code: CTMAK at check out on www.matandkitchen.com
Reach out to me at any time and enjoy!
From Christy again: I am promoting this service because I believe in its value, not because I am receiving anything in exchange for the promotion. Try it out if it inspires you and let me know what you think!
Another recipe from Ali Weatherford
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: About 18 (3 x 1.5 inch) bars.
2 cups regular oats
1 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup almonds and sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons sunbutter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with vegetable oil.
- Place the 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, and brown sugar in a microwave proof bowl or measuring cup. Microwave gently on low heat for 30 seconds or so, or until ingredients can be whisked together easily. Whisk in the vanilla and the salt.
- Mix the oatmeal and quinoa flakes together in a bowl. Coarsely chop the nuts and dried fruit, and stir them into the oatmeal mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are well coated. The mixture should be sticky and should start to clump together. If it doesn’t, and it seems dry and crumbly, add more maple syrup until it does.
- Press the mixture down firmly into the pan. Grease a small piece of aluminum foil and use it to compress the mixture down into the pan as smoothly and firmly as possible.
- Place pan in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until grains appear toasted and smell fragrant. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Finish cooling pan in the refrigerator, and for best(least crumbly) results, wait until mixture is well chilled before cutting it into bars.
Thanks again to Ali Weatherford for this recipe
yields about 11 cups
- 6 c Rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats)
- 1 1/2 c raw, sliced almonds
- 1 1/2 c raw walnut pieces
- 5 Tbsp Flaxseed meal
- 3 to 4 Tbsp Brewer’s yeast
- 1 1/3 c Honey
- 2/3 c Coconut Oil
- 1 to 2 Tbsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 c Raisins
- 1/2 c Dried cranberries
- 1/2 c Dried blueberries
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, walnuts, flax, and Brewer’s yeast. In a small pot over medium heat, combine the honey and coconut oil, until thin and the coconut oil is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour over the oat and nut mixture and stir very well, ensuring that everything is evenly coated. Spread on two parchment-covered cookie sheets.
Bake for 20 minutes, stirring about halfway through. As soon as the sheets are removed from the oven, stir in the raisins, cranberries, and blueberries. Cool completely.