After you’ve given birth, you need care, nourishment, and support. You’re recovering from your pregnancy and birth experience. You’re responsible for a tiny helpless person who relies on you for everything. You’re navigating those big ups and downs (both mental and emotional!) of adjusting to life as a parent.
You’re doing all of this on little sleep, likely with little training or preparation, and maybe not with much support from your family or community (depending on your individual situation). Oh, and you may also be keeping your child alive with the milk your body produces. NBD. Except…it is a pretty big deal. All of this is a big deal—and that’s exactly why you need nourishment during your fourth trimester.
The food you eat can be a game-changer for the postpartum period. Your diet, hydration, and nutrient intake can make a huge difference in all of the aspects of this transition, from your actual physical recovery to your mood.
I was thrilled to chat with Jennifer Jolorte Doro, doula, nutritionist, chef, and founder of parent-focused meal delivery service Nouri (which currently serves the New York City metro area). Jennifer shared all about the power of postpartum planning, postpartum nutrition needs, and why you’re probably not actually eating nearly enough.
MC: Can you tell me a little bit about Nouri? We’d also love to know a bit about you and your reasons for starting the company.
Jennifer at Nouri: Nouri is a healthy meal delivery service specific for fertility, all stages of pregnancy, and postpartum. I’m a nutritionist and I also cook privately for families, but I wanted to offer a food service that could support a lot more people. So far, the best part of Nouri is really being able to provide this type of service with sound nutrition and care for new families in a bigger, broader way.
MC: It feels like in our cultural moment, there’s been a bigger emphasis on the postpartum time in the last few years. I think that people are waking up to the idea that how you take care of yourself in your postpartum period makes a huge difference, that you need and deserve care.
Jennifer: I feel the postpartum period was previously overlooked. It wasn’t framed in way that it could be different. You could feel supported, you could feel nourished, you could feel like it wasn’t so awful to have a baby and then be discharged from the hospital. And the transition could actually be a time for your whole new family to really enjoy and relish in this experience.
This time can feel like a huge loss of control. You get pregnant and then you think, “Oh shoot, I could have this type of birth,” and then you just become anxious about it. And then you’re thinking “I don’t know if I can breastfeed or if I want to breastfeed.” But you can actually plan your postpartum period. And I don’t think that that’s talked about much.
The thing that you can change is (depending on how your birth experience is) you can change the way you feel supported—no matter what you go through. You can make sure that you have some support for after birth. Maybe that’s a pelvic floor therapist or a lactation consultant. Maybe it’s a postpartum doula. Or maybe it’s just having food ready there, and that’s the thing that will 180 degrees change your entire experience.
MC: So what do you think are some of the tenets of nutrition for postpartum people?
Jennifer: Truly, a big part of it is just eating regularly. One of my good friends just had a baby the other day and she was asking me “Hey, what are ways that I can increase my milk supply?” And I’m like, “Well, what are you eating?” “Oh, I had a banana, I had a granola, I had a power bar.” And I said, “You just need to eat!” Maybe it seems like you’re constantly eating, but you may not be eating enough. I think the biggest thing is making sure you’re eating enough.
Hydration is another thing. In terms of specific nutrients, I think iron is the biggest one. It doesn’t have to be meat, but just making sure that you have good iron sources and good fiber to keep you regular.
MC: I think that probably applies to a lot of people because we don’t often make the connection between what or how much you eat and how it interacts with your recovery or your breast milk, and more.
How do you think an optimal diet or nutrition can make a difference in the postpartum period? In terms of recovery, in terms of mood, mental health, etc.
Jennifer: Whether I’m seeing clients for hormonal issues or fertility or anything like that, the biggest thing is again, are you eating enough? If so, that will give you energy. From there, optimizing what that food is. In the postpartum period, make sure that you’re having adequate iron and adequate fiber. Whether that’s beans or meat, rebuilding back what you’ve lost is huge. For general fatigue, making sure that you do have a healthy amount of fat that will help your body absorb various nutrients is very important. Plus, eating the rainbow!
Also, understanding that if you’re eating the same things over and over, you’re getting those same nutrients over and over. So, trying to be more diverse in your diet. One of my favorite things to do is ask, “What’s your go-to breakfast?” So maybe someone’s like, “I love oatmeal!” So great, what can we do to optimize that oatmeal nutritionally? Maybe hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, nut butter, fruit. And already it’s becoming a more complete whole meal. The way that you start your day will then help your energy, your fatigue, your symptoms, your mood, your mental health, all of those things. And again, I think people don’t really realize that a lot of their mood or anxiety or stress can really stem from just not eating enough.
The postpartum period can be such a vulnerable place health-wise. This is probably one of the biggest ways that you’ll ever be challenged in your life. So when you’re very much in this compromised state where you’re not sleeping or you’re depleted (also depending on how your birth or labor was), it becomes important to set up the conditions that are right for recovery and long-term health.
MC: Do you have any sort of specific approach to cooking for the postpartum time, eg is it an Ayurvedic approach, a traditional Chinese medicine approach, just general health food?
Jennifer: My approach is focused more on taking inspiration from a variety of sources and places, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be like a specific traditional Chinese recipe (Although I do keep those kinds of things in the back of my mind, because they are perfect for pregnancy and postpartum). Our menu is very seasonal and very local. We also want to make sure that it is gluten-free and also mostly vegetarian (except for dinners).
So when I’m making a recipe, those are the things I want to hit. Our families can also add an additional protein and also select their meals to be dairy-free.
I want our food to be really nutritionally sound, too. For example, our sweet potato gnocchi. I really wanted to make one with purple potatoes. It’s a pretty traditional color and ingredient in Chinese cooking, but I wanted to make sure that it stayed gluten-free. So instead of using a random flour, I decided we could use chickpea flour to increase both the protein and the fiber. And then I did a kale pesto and added nutritional yeast for even more nutrients.
I am Filipino and Chinese, so I very much look to the comfort foods that I grew up with, as well.
Nouri currently delivers meals to people who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or postpartum and living in the NYC metro area, including Long Island and Jersey City. Enter our Instagram giveaway to win some goodies from both Nouri and Major Care!