How to nourish your body in postpartum with Alana Mulhall - BHSc Naturopath, Author, Co-founder & Mother


Top tips to nourish your body and support your postpartum recovery
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and Mothers Mylk?

My name is Alana, I am the co-founder and Naturopath behind Mothers Mylk. I have a women's health clinic located in Brisbane where I support women from preconception through to postpartum. Shannon (co-founder) and I found each other and created Mothers Mylk as we saw there was a huge missing gap in the healthcare system for new mothers.

Our focus at Mothers Mylk is to empower new mum’s with education on how they can support their health in the postpartum and matrescence period, prevent conditions like postpartum depletion and thrive through motherhood. We believe the preparation for postpartum starts well and truly before the birth of your baby, which is why we have created our Pregnancy Nutrition Course and postpartum tool kit (Nourished Postpartum).

Why is nutrition so important during the fourth trimester?

The fourth trimester is the twelve weeks following the birth of your little one. During this time the body is not only recovering from childbirth but also going through major hormonal changes. Our diet provides nutrients which are essential to helping your body adjust and adapt during this transformative time. During this time when breastfeeding is also being established, certain nutrients like iodine, choline and zinc are required in even higher amounts in breastfeeding than at any other time in your life. Without adequate nutrition mothers can often leave the fourth trimester feeling more depleted than ever before. 

What are the key elements to a healthy postpartum diet?

For thousands of years cultures all around the world have supported women with specific postpartum nutrition, which places emphasis on warming and slow cooked meals to support healing and restore vitality. Think of your diet as a nice warm hug after birth. We love to put a modern spin on traditional postpartum diets and focus on specific foods which are high in essential nutrients (like chia seeds, fish, ghee and anti-inflammatory spices) while keeping busy mamas in mind with quick and easy to prepare meals!

What are your top 5 tips for postpartum nutrition?

  1. Freezer friendly meals - Think warm soups, stews and curries for after birth. These are easy to digest which means your body will be able to easily absorb the nutrients. You can also pack them up with healing spices like turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
  2. One handed snacks! Every Mama needs easy to grab snacks, especially for those cluster feeding days. We recommend meal prepping rissoles, fritters or mini muffins so you have easy to grab meals or snacks at any time of day (or night!).
  3. Don't forget the protein! Protein is essential for wound healing and will be your best friend in a speedy recovery. Protein should be included at every meal through sources like meat, chicken, fish, lentils, tofu, tempeh or legumes.
  4. Stay hydrated! Your water requirements will increase when breastfeeding. Even dehydration can be a stress on the body and we want to minimise any additional stressors at this time. We recommend investing in a 1L water bottle with a straw and keeping it handy!
  5. Eat foods high in key nutrients. While all wholefoods are nutritious, however certain foods will contain higher amounts of essential nutrients to support your recovery. Get to know what these foods are so you can understand how to nourish your body from the inside out.

Should new mums take postpartum vitamins and/or supplements?

This really does depend on your health circumstances but as a general recommendation it is recommended that all breastfeeding mothers supplement with iodine.

Certain nutrients like zinc, B-vitamins, magnesium and calcium can be really helpful to support recovery and energy levels during sleep deprivation.

How can we (and others) best support our recovery?

I would encourage all mamas to have follow up blood testing (particularly iron studies, thyroid function and vitamin D) at least 6-8 weeks after the birth of their bub to ensure those nutrients are within optimal ranges! I typically see mamas experiencing depletion at 6-12 months after the birth of their baby and I believe that this is the aftermath of those months prior. If we can put a really good care plan into place in the early days we are much more likely to prevent depletion and burnout.

Could you share one of your favourite recipes with us?

This is such a hard question but I would have to say our Vegetable and Beef Lasagne. It contains 5 different types of vegetables and my son (1yr & fussy) absolutely loves it!

VEGETABLE & BEEF LASAGNE
Prep Time: 25 min  Serving Size: 5-6  Cook Time: 70 min

This lasagne is easier to make than you think and such a great way to sneak in an extra serve of vegetables to your daily diet! We love the big batch nature because you can have it for dinner and leftovers for the next day! Beef is one of the best sources of dietary iron, which is a nutrient of high importance to support postpartum recovery.

INGREDIENTS

  •  1⁄2 pumpkin (cut into 2cm slices)
  •  1 eggplant (cut into 2cm slices)
  •  1 cauliflower (roughly chopped)
  •  1 garlic clove
  •  1 brown onion (diced)
  •  500g grass fed beef mince
  •  500g organic pasta sauce
  •  1 punnet spinach (approx 120g)
  •  1 packet of gluten free or spelt lasagne sheets

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC fan-forced and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Coat the pumpkin and eggplant with extra virgin olive oil and place onto the prepared baking tray and into the oven to roast for 25 minutes. Once cooked, remove and set aside.
  3. Steam the cauliflower on a stove top until soft and falling apart.
  4. Once steamed, place the cauliflower into a high speed blender with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 clove of garlic. Blend until smooth and there are no lumps. Set aside.
  5. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat and sauté the onion until slightly brown then add in the beef mince.
  6. Once the beef mince is cooked through, add in 400g of the pasta sauce and simmer for 5 minutes on low.

ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNE

  1. In a lasagne dish, layer the lasagne by spooning 2-3 tablespoons of pasta sauce on the base of a baking dish, cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, a layer of the beef mince, a layer of spinach And then a layer of pumpkin.
  2. Add another layer of lasagne sheets and cover with pasta sauce.
  3. Lay over the eggplant and then top with the cauliflower puree. If adding cheese sprinkle desired amount on top.
  4. Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes.

 

 Bare Mum does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.