postpartum nutrition

The First Forty Days - Book Review

The First Forty Days

During the forty or so weeks of pregnancy, there is so much anticipation and planning for the birth! Often, there is less planning when it comes to postpartum, especially in caring for the birthing person and/or new parent(s).The transition into parenthood or post-birth healing is filled with joy, challenges, and adaptation. Preparing for postpartum beforehand can go a long way in those early weeks when sleep is lacking, your body is healing, and you’re possibly doing everything for first time.  

Heng Ou, founder of MotherBees, wrote The First Forty Days - a gentle guide for postpartum healing and care inspired by the Chinese Tradition of zuo yuezi, the practice of sitting for forty plus days post-birth.  Zuo yuezi, and similar practices, occurs within many different cultures and countries as a way to support postpartum recovery and prepare for parenthood. While for some it may not be possible or ideal to completely shut the outside world out for this length of time, there is a lesson to be learned from this practice.

North American parents are praised for being able to ‘bounce back’ quickly after childbirth, but this overlooks a crucial period of healing and adjustment. The First Forty Days is meant to guide individuals through this period and adopting zuo yuezi to their lifestyles and postpartum experience.  Using ‘five insights’; retreat, warmth, support, rest, and ritual, Ou presents plenty of methods for self care and recovery that are easy and ranges from creating a support team and preparation for parenthood to spiritual and emotional practices.

WHERE THIS BOOK SUCCEEDS

Fundamental to The First Forty Days guide is giving yourself time: to heal, to learn, to make mistakes, to be cared for, and to move through your postpartum journey whatever it may look like. There can be a lot of pressure placed on new parents and plenty of advice and opinions (both wanted and unwanted). Ou does an incredible job of highlighting how the transition into parenthood is personal and a process through which individuals should be honoured and supported to encourage both confidence and recovery. For those birthing people not becoming parents, this can serve as guide for your physical and emotional recovery after birth as you will need time to focus on your wellness.

Ou suggests doing some of this planning beforehand, including food preparation, compiling a list of friends and family for support, having conversations about how a baby can change your relationships, and establishing the boundaries necessary for your selfcare. If you allow yourself this time and approach postpartum without expectations of certain outcomes, you will find you can adapt throughout the experience with the many tools and approaches laid out in this guide that prioritize your health and wellness.

The Food! The recipes are delicious and easy. Warming and soft foods, like soups and stews, are the basis of most meals outlined for the first forty days as these are more easily digestible and hearty enough for fueling and nourishing postpartum. When your focus shifts to caring for and becoming acquainted with your little one, it’s easy for you to neglect eating well, yet food is so important to postpartum healing and health. Heng Ou reminds readers that by nourishing themselves it will benefit baby too! What’s great about these recipes is that they could be made in bigger batches ahead of time and are easy enough that others could make for you. Beyond this, the recipes encourage simpler food preparation and eating habits, using local and seasonal produce, and can be adapted depending on dietary preferences. Some favourites include the Ginger Tumeric & Honey Tea, the Avocado Coconut & Lime Smoothie, and the ‘C-recovery’ vegetable stew.

POINTS WORTH NOTING

The choice of language in the book largely assumes that the birthing person is a woman and a mother, the baby is gendered, and the birthing experience is feminine. Nevertheless, the approaches put forth in the First Forty Days are beneficial for any birthing person, parent(s), or person playing an active role in care and support during the postpartum period.  The care practices and recipes are so beneficial and rejuvenating that they can be used by anyone, not strictly for postpartum parents.

Much of what Heng Ou recommends is easy and accessible in practice, but it requires some pre-planning and setting up supports. Ou does the stress the importance of doing this work beforehand (even better if you can start before baby arrives). It also helps those who will be a part of your postpartum journey know better how to support and help you. Depending on your personal and life circumstances, some approaches may not be for you, but this book has been set up as a gentle guide so that you can pick and choose what is useful for meeting your needs.

THE FIRST FORTY DAYS: THE 5 INSIGHTS FOR POSTPARTUM CARE

The First Forty Days is a wonderful resource for anyone having a baby, recently given birth, or for a person supporting another during postpartum. It acknowledges the experience one goes through in childbirth and why a period of recovery and being cared for is important to their health and wellness. Heng Ou puts forward five insights for postpartum care that can be adapted and used during postpartum period. There are many ways to use these insights, but some favourites include:

  • Retreat: doing something nice for yourself, your favourite self care practice, or simply finding some quiet time to be alone.

  • Warmth: a warm cup of tea, a bowl of soup or soaking in a relaxing bath.

  • Support: start early, practice asking others for help (it can be hard for some), and compile a list of people you can reach out to when in need.

  • Rest: SO important! But getting an adequate amount of sleep can be challenging after baby. Rest also includes minimizing your activity, this is not the time to jump back into your pre-pregnancy activities. Reach out to your support people. Most people will be happy to spend a couple hours with baby allowing you to rest. There are doulas and night nurses who do just this.

  • Ritual: if you are becoming a parent, this is a transformative time in your life and you may benefit from a ritual that allows you to honour who you were before baby and welcome this new aspect of your identity. Look into to ‘Mother Blessings’ if interested in this. Anything can become a ritual, what this books suggests is that it’s important to create a ritual that promotes your health and care.

Love, 

Kaia and the Spectrum Team

Spectrum Doula Collective offers postpartum and meal planning support that can help you during your postpartum journey. Our doulas make sure your postpartum transition is as smooth as possible by providing unique, expert care that suits your every need.

Get Snacking: Postpartum

self-saucing vegan banana caramel pudding

self-saucing vegan banana caramel pudding

At Spectrum Doula Collective we are all foodies! We love cooking for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our clients! 

broccoli blue cheese pie with tomato salad

broccoli blue cheese pie with tomato salad

A big part of postpartum support is specialised baby care but it doesn't always have to be. Your postpartum doula is there to support you in so many different ways - it could, of course be, baby care but also be holding baby while you take a shower or a nap; healing wisdom both physically and emotionally; listening to your birth story and holding space for you; tidying up; light laundry; helping with pets; and providing you a nutritious meal or snacks! 

And we really really love cooking for our clients. We make mostly vegetarian and vegan meals (based on our dietary restrictions) and we will cook anything from soups to stews, pies, stratas, lasagnas, puddings, cakes, muffins, and energy balls. We post some of these recipes to our blog on a monthly basis and photos of the finished product on our IG.

Want to learn more? Contact us. 

Love,

The Spectrum Team

Get Snacking: Date love with Daits - delightful natural treats

Prenatal Snack Dates

As the seasons get cooler we thought we would share some treat ideas! Dates are both delicious and beneficial prenatally - in one of our previous blog post we offered delicious ways of eating 6 dates a day. Some of those recipes require more ingredients than others -  for those days when you don't have all the ingredients on hand or you'd like an extra special treat we are happy to present you: Daits!

Daits was founded by Reem Aljarbou - a busy mama of two. Reem grew up in Saudi Arabia, where dates are a traditional staple of daily life. After relocating to Canada, Reem was surprised to find that none of the varieties of dates she loved were available here and so she began ordering shipments of her two favourite types of dates (Sukkari and Khalas). She would eat these plain or fill them with delicious and high quality ingredients, like nuts or nut butters. 

Healthy Prenatal Nutrition

Reem began sharing her date treats with friends and coworkers and everyone loved them!  Daits was born our of Reem's desire to share her family traditions with the rest of Canada and to offer a naturally sweet treat full of health benefits. 

Daits is located inside the Saks Food Hall at the Eaton Centre Pusateri's. You can find a treat for everyone in your family at Daits: plain dates pressed in their own juices or stuffed with almonds; protein bars (made mainly with dates and few other high quality ingredients); salted caramel date bars; and of course stuffed dates with whimsical names such as seeds of love (dates stuffed with walnuts, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with fennel and nigella seeds), first dait (dates stuffed with roasted almonds, coated in almond butter, and rolled in crispy feuilletine), and cloud 9 (dates piped with peanut butter). 

If you (or someone you love) are in the mood for a delicious (healthier) treat, give Daits a try! We try it every week...

Love, 

The Spectrum Doula Collective

 

Thanksgiving Treats

autumn_thanksgiving.jpg

If you live Toronto you probably noticed that our autumn has been a little bit...odd. We are oscillating between extreme summer heat and cool crisp fall weather, which can be both confusing and frustrating for those of us that love all things fall (that's most of us at Spectrum Doula Collective). We are hoping this to change as we move closer to one our favourite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving!

Whether we are spending the holiday alone, with a few people, or a big crowd we always find ways to make Thanksgiving meaningful. A big part (maybe the biggest?) of this is, of course, the food! Cooking and baking (and canning and preserving and pickling) just feel so much better during fall. 

This year we are departing from tradition and playing around with variations on carrot cake as our main desert (because we know someone will invariably bring pumpkin pie anyway). Check our our recipe below:

SUPPLIES  An oven, 2 large bowls, an 8-inch square baking dish, a whisk, a spatula, a mixer (stand or hand held), measuring cups and spoons

CAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

  • 3/4 cup can sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup milk 

  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 tbs vanilla

  • 2/3 cup raisins

  • 1 cups grated carrots

FROSTING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package of cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 tbs unsalted, softened butter

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/c cup amber maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat your pan with butter and dust it with some flour, knocking it around to cover most of the pan (from our messy experience, we suggest doing this over the sink).

Whisk together your sugar and butter, adding the eggs, milk, and vanilla once they're well combined. Sift in your flour, baking powder, and salt, whisking until combined. Add in the raisins and carrots, stirring with a spatula (or wooden spoon). 

Scrape the batter into your prepared dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes (or until a toothpick/cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean). Cool in the pan for 10-15 min, then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. 

While you wait, make the frosting! In the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with a whisk add the cream cheese and butter, mixing them together. Add the maple syrup, mix until well combined. Add the salt, mix a little longer. If you frosting is a little soft, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

Once the cake is cool, frost it and eat it! 

*you can do this with a hand held mixer as well! 

carrot_cake.jpg

We hope you enjoy this cake around your dinner table, surrounded by loved ones, and sharing all of the things you're grateful for! 

One of our favourite ritual to go along with dessert is giving everyone a piece of paper and a pen and asking them to write down several things they're grateful for. We then go around in the table, and everyone shared 4 of the things they've written down! 

Do you have a favourite Thanksgiving treat?

 

Get Snacking: Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Quick and easy healthy snacks whether it be during pregnancy, labour and postpartum (or for when kids are getting older) can be hard to find. This recipe is insanely easy, packed with protein and super transportable. 

But it's got nuts!?

If you or one of your children has an allergy to nuts, this definitely is not the recipe for you. If you're wondering if it's safe to eat nuts while pregnant or nursing babe, the most current research shows that your child's development of a nut allergy is not impacted by whether you eat or do not eat nuts throughout pregnancy and or while nursing. Yay!

Supplies

  • Parchment Paper
  • 8 x 8 in pan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 1/2 cup Pecans
  • 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter

Directions

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir ingredients together (it might be easier to use your hands to mix all the ingredients together). Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough so the paper hangs over the edges of the 8 x 8 inch pan. Place mixed ingredients on the parchment paper and use a fork to flatten the ingredients to the edges of the pan and then place in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once chilled the Peanut Butter Granola should easily be cut into bars. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Love the Spectrum team xo