Recipes to Support You in the 4th Trimester

by Alicia Jerreat

Meal planning, food prep and cooking. Whether you enjoy these weekly chores or not, we all have to decide what to eat in the week and make the necessary arrangements to feed ourselves. Some of us find peace in the schedule, some of us feel restricted and some just find the whole process stressful!

Meal planning, food prep, and cooking. Whether you enjoy these weekly chores or not, we all have to decide what to eat in the week and make the necessary arrangements to feed ourselves. Some of us find peace in the schedule, some of us feel restricted and some just find the whole process stressful!

Eating is essential to our lives but starting life with a newborn, whether a firstborn or fourthborn, will make mealtimes a much bigger task than it was previously! In the present day meal trains have become commonplace, often organized by family and friend networks dropping food off in return for a glimpse or even a cuddle with baby, are incredibly beneficial to parents welcoming a new addition. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to get the most out of a meal train or support from loved ones, download the Food Drop Guide here.

Is the food you eat in the fourth trimester that important?

Pregnancy is a physical experience that slows the digestive system due to having a small human growing amongst the pregnant person’s organs! Birth is called ‘labour’ due to the body working hard to deliver the baby safely and so the period of the fourth trimester is all about rest and recovery. 

Many cultures throughout history have developed food rituals and recipes to help a birthing person heal and receive the right nourishment postpartum. Books like The First Forty Days by Heng Ou are such great resources for holistic postpartum care, for example, Heng Ou recommends only consuming food and drink warm, nothing cold, to help with blood circulation and to keep the birthing person’s body temperature comfortable. However, once your digestive tract becomes used to having space again, more complex foods will be easier to digest. Bring on those iced lattes!

Ensuring you eat well is pivotal in supporting your body postpartum, nutrient-dense foods provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals and energy, aiding in tissue repair and overall wellbeing! Focusing on balancing macronutrients- carbohydrates, proteins and fats- help you maintain a steady stream of energy and stabilise your blood sugar levels which will overall contribute to this period of recovery and adjustment. It’s also key to eat things you ENJOY eating. Sure, nutrient dense foods are important, but so is the pleasure and ritual around eating the foods we love. Think about what those are for you, and get those added to that meal train!

It’s important to note that if you are chestfeeding, the foods and drinks you consume will not enter the baby’s system in the same way it did when being passed through the placenta. So while there are more eating choices available postpartum, keeping an eye on your own body and baby’s, Brood’s Feeding & Your Baby course offers so much information, as well as talking to your medical care giver for personalised advice is always the best place to start. 

So what kind of foods are best to help you build your strength post birth? 

Soft, warm, mild tasting foods, not dissimilar from baby food.But without liquidising into a brown mush, thankfully.  Bone broth, turmeric, ginger and dark leafy greens, for example, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties which can support the body healing post-birth. Recipes that are rich in iron, protein, fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants but also gentle on the digestive system help nourish both birther and baby if chestfeeding. Eating nutritionally strong foods is a great support for lactation, however if you are not planning on chestfeeding, your body will thank you for nourishing it well in your fourth trimester. 

Pantry Essentials

Root vegetables, fresh and frozen produce, meat/fish/eggs/plant based protein, prepared broths, rice, barley, beans, herbs and spices, oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, eggs, herbal teas, noodles and lentils! Whether you are having your meal prepared by a partner, family member, friend or postpartum doula in your home or from somewhere else, these foods are all great ingredients to create easy meals for nourishment and hydration.

If you eat fish –  salmon, sardines and herring are high in fatty acids and low in mercury, easy to digest meats like chicken, slow cooked lamb and beef, are great protein additions to stews, soups and casseroles. Spices such as turmeric (an anti-inflammatory), cinnamon (warming) and ginger (a digestive aid) are super tasty and will elevate a meal from bland to delicious. Rice, lentils and beans are high in nourishment and versatile to cook with. Fats such as avocados, grass-fed butter, coconut milk and ghee help enrich milk production. Overly moist foods, such as soups and stews, as well as kombucha, herbal teas and broths are also perfect to help you stay hydrated, an area that is often overlooked!

All of this information and meal prep can be overwhelming, and it is important to point out that fed is best not just for baby but for parents too! This is also where outsourcing becomes very beneficial, prepared meals is one of the greatest gifts you can be given after the baby arrives!  Whether you book a postpartum doula to support you and prep some meals, ask your community of friends and family to drop meals to your door or gift you a specialised postpartum meal service like Feeding Mama or Bloom Natural Nutrition, asking for easy, tasty nourishment is the name of the game. 

Here are some ideas—all of these can be easily prepared,  frozen and reheated quickly (all things that are vital to fourth-trimester life!) It’s very normal to throw traditional meal times out of the window during this period, eat soup for breakfast if you feel like it and you may find that 4am feeds go better with some reheated dinners! And easy-to-grab snacks are your BEST friend (hello bedside snacks for late-night-feeds!).

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Warm, tasty, filled with rice, beans and corn this soup can be made in a crockpot or on the stove top and the ingredients are flexible, chicken, ground beef or a plant based protein could be added and is quick to make! 

Red Lentil Dahl

Cozy, filling and easy to prep, this recipe is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, and only has seven ingredients plus spices. The recipe also has some suggestions for additions to personalize it to your taste.

Beef Barley Soup

Vegetables, grains and protein in one bowl! Unless you are already using barley in your cooking, that is the only specialty ingredient and well worth the addition at that. Although there are more ingredients in this dish, they are nearly all pantry staples and there are only three cooking stages!

Sausage and Veg Pasta Bake

Is there anything better than a good pasta bake? It’s easy to adjust to a gluten-free pasta or to substitute the sausage for plant-based protein and the cheese for nutritional yeast to make this accessible for all.

Broccoli Quinoa Chickpea Casserole

Grains, beans and vegetables combine for a delicious meal, cheese can be added as a topping or left off for a vegan dish. Chickpeas are full of protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates and this is a fun way to incorporate them into a meal!

Bone Broth

This one is harder to make vegetarian/vegan due to bones being pretty integral to the broth! Bone broth is high in vitamins, nutrients and collagen and is perfect for slow digestion, especially in the first week of your fourth trimester but also is worth treating it as a nutritious drink in the weeks after!

Baked Oatmeal

Breakfasts are often a neglected food prep in meal trains so asking foursome dishes to be included or having something easy to make for your village to prep for you when they come over for baby cuddles will make your mornings easier!. Baked oatmeal is versatile, less stodgy than stove top oatmeal, and can be thrown together with whatever you have in the house.

Banana Carrot Muffins

Another potential breakfast option but also a great snack throughout your day/night! Throw a batch in the freezer and keep another batch handy! Not overly sweet and easy to make these are yummy half banana bread, half carrot cake option.

Hydrating Green Smoothie

Juices and smoothies are a great snack to easily combine nutrients and hydration. This recipe combines pineapple, banana, spinach and coconut milk for a piña colada-esque hydrating drink.

Energy Balls

A no-bake, protein-rich snack that doubles as a dessert! These can be adapted however you like really, great for experimentation and a delicious boost of energy to boot.

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