Postpartum Nourishment

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Postpartum Nourishment


Postpartum Provisions: By Tess Weaver

As I headed to Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) for the second time in 24 hours—this time urgently, knowing my baby’s arrival was imminent—I was prepared with the recommended items a pregnant woman is told to pack. Hundreds of blogs and online articles center around “the hospital bag”. They told me to bring ice packs, numbing spray, mesh underwear, a bluetooth speaker, a robe, nipple cream and dozens of other seemingly mandatory things. But I had a cooler loaded with something most online checklists omit and few American doctors suggest (or are even aware of): postpartum specific foods.

Following the birth of my daughter, I eschewed Gatorade, smoothies, snacks and even the famed AVH steak dinner in favor of nourishing nutrition from home: homemade bone broth, soupy, sprouted grains with ghee and warming spices, herbal teas, golden milk and coconut water. The nurses didn’t get it. Neither did some of my friends. Modern western culture places little emphasis on a nutrient-dense diet during pregnancy and postpartum, but around the world, especially among traditional cultures, it’s as important as infant care.

From Africa to India, Latin America to China, family and friends prepare nourishing dishes for new mothers specifically designed to promote recovery, replenish stores, increase milk supply, decrease colic, contract the uterus and restore “life force” (what new mother doesn’t need that?). The concoctions vary from culture to culture, but mostly, they’re warm, liquid-based, collagen-rich, mineral-dense, and perhaps most important, easily digestible. Beyond fulfilling nutritional needs, these foods are believed to heal emotionally—grounding women who are in a vulnerable state. And anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to combat postpartum depression. Most traditional postpartum dishes follow Ayurvedic principles. For example, many cultures encourage postpartum women to consume hot foods to restore harmony and balance.

In Korea, a seaweed soup with fatty beef and salty fish sauce is said to promote breast milk production. In South India, goat meat spiced with garam masala, chiles and fenugreek leaves forms a stew served over rice for new mothers needing energy. Indigenous Mexican cultures prepare healing mothers a garlicky cactus soup with cumin and coriander seeds. In Cambodia, new moms eat a warm rice porridge with pork or fish, seasonings and palm sugar. Nepalese postpartum women expel childbirth blood with a warm wheat semolina with ginger, cumin and turmeric.

When I had my son eight years ago, I knew next-to-nothing about postpartum nutrition. Following his delivery, I ate raw fruits and vegetables, smoothies, dry snacks and probably lots of other things that were harsh on my delicate digestive system and did nothing beneficial for my recovery. I might have gone that route again had I not run into Kerrie Schur, an ayurvedic health coach and yoga teacher based in the Roaring Fork Valley. After a prenatal yoga class, she asked what food I was bringing to the hospital. Maybe some oat-date energy balls, I replied. She said to consider congee, the rice porridge eaten around Asia, because of its postnatal benefits. She told me how this hot, soft, oily, sweet and well spiced rice dish soothes the nerves, nourishes the tissues, stimulates digestion, and rebuilds the blood. Ayurvedic postpartum care aims to harmonize the new mother’s vata, an energy imbalanced by childbirth. She said I was to make dish at home and bring it to the hospital and mostly eat this for several days. The more I researched, the more the meal resonated.

So, about an hour after my daughter’s birth, my partner warmed up my first serving of congee that we had prepared a couple days prior in the instant pot. From that very first delicious and comforting sip, my intuition confirmed that it was exactly what I should be eating at that moment. Soaked and cooked for longer than ordinary rice, the hydrating concoction gently warmed my sensitive system (delivery takes a big toll on the digestive tract). Cooked in bone broth and infused with ghee (clarified butter), the soupy rice is packed with protein and collagen, and it went to work repairing tissue. The ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and other warming spices reduced inflammation and aided circulation, fortifying my immune system. The rice ramped up my production of breast milk and improved its quality. And the salty broth and sweetness from raw honey were just what my body craved after the challenge of childbirth.

Ideally, all new mothers would have a supportive team of women caring for them 40 days postpartum so they could heal faster, maintain their emotional well-being and bond with their baby. In many traditional cultures, they do! In India, among upper classes, new mothers are given special baths and oil massages daily, and forbidden from cooking, cleaning or doing much beyond breastfeeding and bonding with her baby. Around the world, the proverbial village comes together to help mothers, and studies have shown the cultures who have supportive rituals for new mothers have a low incidence of postpartum mood disorders. Alas, we live in America, where new moms are often left to fend for themselves with few resources.

At the very least, American women should have a postpartum meal plan. Whether that’s asking relatives and friends to help prepare post-labor porridges and broths ahead of the due date, creating a meal train of postpartum meals preferencing soups and stews or preparing dishes on her own before going into labor, the more an expecting mother can plan her postpartum nutrition, the better.

Once a new mother’s system is ready for solid foods, a meal program like the one Tuesday Foods offers the best chance for a busy mom to maintain a nutrient-dense diet. Tuesday Foods delivers meals made from a wide variety of fresh, colorful vegetables, including leafy greens, antioxidant-rich fruits, healthy fats like coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil, nutrient-rich grains, essential fatty acids and probiotic-rich foods.

Clearly, proper postpartum nutrition is vital for both physical and mental health. When mothers are nourished, they can recover faster, thrive postpartum, and enjoy early motherhood.



  • 1 cup white rice

  • 7-8 cups of broth and water

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh tumeric

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp clove, nutmeg or any warming spice

  • A few grinds of fresh ground pepper

  • A generous pinch of sea salt


Combine all in a pressure cooker: set pressure on high and set time for 30 minutes. Let naturally release for 1-1 ½ hours. Or slow cooker: low heat for 8-10 hours

Stir in more salt and raw honey or molasses to taste.