After many months of all the cravings and pregnancy foods, it is now time to prep your pantry for your baby’s arrival. Not only will preparing your go-to foods and snacks save you time and money, but it will ensure that you are fueling your body what it needs in order to properly function and thrive in the healing and postpartum process.
Taking a little bit of time each week to stock up on a few extra items from the grocery store, or doing some simple meal prepping that you can freeze for a struggling day will also reassure you that you are getting the right nutrients for your body and baby (if you are nursing) and aren’t left struggling later to make the food. Or worse - grab that bag of chips or cookies from the back of the pantry!
Here are a few essentials that should consider for your pantry, and which should ideally be ready when your hospital bag is.
Nuts are a great snack you can easily keep around the house to munch on when the days are long and the nights seem even longer. Grabbing a handful of mixed nuts or a homemade trail mix can help stabilize your blood sugar, provide many nutrient dense benefits, and satisfy your hunger all in one. Almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are all great sources of healthy fats and protein as well. Make sure if you are consuming Brazil nuts, to only eat two in a day, as they are a great source of selenium, but you don’t want to overdo it with this. Also, be careful on the sugar content if you are eating a nutrition bar or cookie. Some of them are packed with sugar to make them addictive.
You can also lightly grind all of your favorite nuts and seeds up (even adding in chia and flax) in a food processor with dates or other dried fruit and blend with rolled oats, making your own homemade cereal or granola. If you don’t have the time, or the energy, to make it yourself you can get a bag of mom's favorite Lactation Granola for convenience and a yummy snack! Another really delicious nutty snack to stock on is Sesame Brittle, which helps provide warmth to the postpartum body and aids in lactation and digestion. If you prefer something savory, puffed water lily seeds are great for new mothers and a much healthier alternative to popcorn/chips.
There are many benefits to keeping certain spices and herbs around for the postpartum phase as well. Ginger has been shown to be a galactagogue, which stimulates milk production. It’s also a very grounding herb that helps aid in digestion. You can add this to any tea or broth. Turmeric is another amazing herb to stock up on prior to your baby making her big debut! This golden spice has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antidepressant, anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties! A dash of turmeric in your tea, milk, or broth can help reduce the risk of mastitis (as it helps reduce inflammation), has been shown to work as a natural antidepressant, improve brain function, memory and dopamine levels, and helps to improve your cholesterol levels. Read our blog post on 5 benefits of turmeric for new mothers to read about all the benefits turmeric can offer. You can make a golden milk latte at home with both of these ingredients (ginger and turmeric) blended easily with a cup of milk (dairy or plant based) or try this Turmeric Ginger Latte mix with added cardamom or cinnamon! This drink helps boost milk supply too!
Staying on the milk boosting bandwagon, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t talk about fennel! It is a well-known herbal galactagogue and has been used to increase the supply of milk in nursing women for centuries. You can consume it as a tea, flavoring agent to salads and soups, or eaten raw or roasted for maximum benefits! Fenugreek is a powerful booster as well, and can be used as ingredient in baking and cooking.
Meal prepping and making foods in bulk now and freezing for later can save you a ton of hassle for the months to come. Making things like stews, soups, and broths are easy to prepare in bulk, put in containers, and keep in your freezer for when you have a sleepless night but need something quick and nourishing.
Do you roast whole chickens or turkeys? Can you slow cook some spices with a bunch of veggies thrown in? If so, you can easily make your own bone broth or vegetable broth to freeze in bulk and even put in ice cube trays to use to cook with when you are prepping meals. A good way to get the nutritional benefits of broth is by using frozen cubes to cook quinoa or rice. It also gives a great flavor to your grains! Don’t have time or patience to make your own broth? No worries, most grocery stores have a natural food section where you can find frozen or even packed organic broth you can stock up on!
Miso paste is a great item to keep in your pantry to enhance flavor in soups, broths, and stews, as well as boost your vitamins and minerals! Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E, K and folic acid. It’s also a fermented food, therefore providing the gut with beneficial bacteria and probiotics.
Want to make sure you are getting enough iron, fiber, and protein but need a quick fresh meal to just put on the stove? Keep this khichari recipe handy for an Ayurvedic supermeal that’s easy to cook, delicious to eat, and provides warmth to body in early postpartum period. Stock up on Khichadi Mix if you prefer to have all the right ingredients prepped for you.
Oats are a great pantry item for this time as well because they offer a very grounding and comforting feeling all while providing the body with a great source of iron and breast milk boosting benefits. Oatmeal with coconut flakes and goji berries can be a very nourishing start of the day. You can also try some Hot Cereal, loaded with ingredients extremely beneficial for postpartum mothers!
Ghee and oils
From an Ayurvedic standpoint, good fats are grounding and nourishing for new mothers. They help to produce balance and relaxation, stimulating oxytocin within the brain for a “feel good” emotional and physical sensation. One example of this type of healthy fat that should definitely be added to your stock up items prior to baby is ghee. Ghee is made when butter that is heated gently, causing the milk solids to separate from the golden liquid and drift to the bottom of the pan after the butter has melted. It has a much higher smoking point for cooking so it won’t go rancid when using it to sauté or bake with, contains little or no lactose so it’s much easier on digestion than dairy, and has a longer shelf life, allowing it to not require refrigeration. Ghee has been shown to help strengthen the immune system and promote optimal gut health.
Coconut oil is another healthy fat to add into your diet, as it too has a high smoking point and many benefits for new moms and their babies. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a powerful anti-microbial fatty acid that protects the immune system of the newborn. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are believed to help increase milk flow. Your body needs adequate fat in order to produce enough breast milk to support your baby’s needs, so don’t shy away from this important macronutrient! Coconut oil is also beneficial to help treat your new baby’s diaper rash and cradle cap, as well as help prevent and treat the inevitable cracking and soreness you will experience as a nursing mom!
Teas and beverages
As mentioned prior, drinking teas with ginger, turmeric, and fennel are very beneficial to a new mother and her healing body. Teas with cumin can also help in digestion and relieve bloating. Dried raspberry leaves are also very beneficial during postpartum recovery and may regulate hormones which often fluctuate wildly in the postpartum period. Moringa leaves, which come from a tree known as the 'miracle tree' are truly a new mother's best friend and are a known galactagouge.
You can either purchase these dried herbs and make your own tea, or you can easily stock up on different pre-blended teas from your local grocery or natural food store. Having tea around is great as a comfort drink, helping to warm the body and make you feel more whole. Ashwaganda root is another herb you should try to keep stocked up in your pantry as a postpartum essential. Either cut root for steeping or powdered form, this adaptogen helps promote restful sleep, immune support, boosts energy levels, memory and cognitive support, and delivers many antioxidants to the body.
Making sure you are set up for success now can be such a relief and one less thing to worry about for when your newest little addition comes. The long days and sleepless nights that you will most likely experience can be much easier to navigate when you are fueling your body with the essential nutrients it needs to thrive and heal your physical and emotional self after such a huge transition in your life. Be kind to your body and mind and provide it with nourishing and wholesome foods in order for it to recover and flourish as a new mother!
 The Fourth Trimester: Johnson, Kimberly Ann. The Fourth Trimester: a Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality. Shambhala, 2017.
Posted by Madalyn Hughes
Madalyn is a certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and a Wellness Practitioner who specializes in working with women throughout their health and wellness journey. Check out her blog here.