OK, expectant mamas, I could run my mouth all day with advice about birth plans, birthing methods, how to avoid interventions, and midwives vs. OB-GYNs. I’ve got my opinions. But I also firmly believe that what helps me have a great birth might not be the same as what helps you have a great birth. Different strokes, ladies! What I am sure of is that you will want to tune into my number one tip for a hospital birth because it’s for everyone who might be birthing in a hospital setting. Whether you’ve hired a doula or not and whether you’re going natural or opting for an epidural, regardless of your birthing choices, this applies to you!
You see, what you first time mamas might not have realized yet is that at the end of this exhausting marathon they call labor, you’re going to be hungrier than you have ever been in your life. We’re not just talking about working up a healthy appetite. You will be FAMISHED. As soon as you’ve snuggled your new precious one and caught your breath, you will be demanding food of any able-bodied person in the delivery room. And you’ll deserve the best meal of your entire life. I don’t think anyone is delusional enough to think hospital food fits that bill and in all likelihood your delivery won’t even be close to a mealtime (my oh so cooperative babies like to arrive in the wee small hours of the morning when only fast food joints are open.)
After my first birth, hospital dinner meals had already been served, restaurants were closed, and I chowed down on multiple ready-made ham and cheese sandwiches from the hospital’s 24-hour deli counter. Not exactly ideal after 48 hours of exhausting labor! And apparently I didn’t learn my lesson because Baby #2 was born at 4am and having no other plan prepared, I ended up eating a Whataburger breakfast sandwich to tide me over until morning. I know, right? This time, I have a plan!
Here’s my advice: make one plan for daytime and another for a nighttime birth. For your daytime plan, make a short list of friends and family who might be able to rush off to pick up your meal of choice when baby arrives and your post-partum appetite kicks in, as well as a list of restaurants or meals that might strike your fancy. For example, after 9 months without having raw fish, I might be ready for some sushi! And be sure to touch base the the person who is “on duty” when you are in early labor. I for one don’t like my husband to leave my side from the moment labor begins until several hours postpartum, so keep in mind that baby’s daddy will probably need to stay put and that a fancy food run for mama is a great job for a grandparent or close friend to tackle.
Since babies often like to emerge from the womb at ungodly hours of the night, have Plan B intact. Once you’re full-term, stock your fridge with the best snacks you can imagine so that you can toss them into a cooler (ice all ready to go in your freezer) at a moment’s notice. Or, if they don’t need to be refrigerated, just add the items to your hospital bag. My picks will be raw cheese (something I typically avoid during pregnancy) from my favorite local dairy and other fancy snacks. Make it special! You will deserve it! Place your packed hospital bag on top of the cooler so that you don’t forget your food on your way out the door.
And I also have my freezer full of Stephanie’s slow cooker freezer recipes, so that once immediate post partum is over, all I have to do is take one out of the freezer and dump it in my slow cooker.
Is your postpartum meal something you’ve considered when planning your birth? Veteran mamas, have you found yourself stuck without the food you deserve after labor?