I vividly remember the animalistic hunger I felt immediately following the birth of my babies. Yes, I remember feeling the same thing with all three of them. Maybe it was the onset of breastfeeding and producing milk or just the sheer exhaustion after delivery that made me so hungry, MUCH more hungry than I ever was during pregnancy.
Before we moved across the country 8 WEEKS after having my first baby (yes you read that right, we were crazy), we had many relatives, and friends (some from our church) bring us meals during that time. That was the first time I was exposed to the generosity a person or a group of people can show a newly postpartum mom through the giving of food.
It really is very simple. Just feed her and her family. The gratitude I felt and still feel for those meals makes me speechless. It’s exactly what I needed, when I needed it, and I didn’t have to ask. If I had to ask I probably wouldn’t or I wouldn’t know how. In fact, I don’t know a single mom who has gone out of her way to request the giving of food during her postpartum recovery, do you? I don’t think so. But, will she turn it down if offered to her? Probably not. Remember, us moms often forget about our own needs sometimes, especially in the beginning of that baby’s life when our brains literally are not functioning properly.
When I had my second and third baby I experienced the same generosity, mostly through our church group. Some couples brought us meals twice a couple of weeks apart! It was amazing. That’s also when I discovered the fantastic online tool of meal scheduling websites. It was an easy way to retrieve contact information, share food allergy needs, and keep track of what was coming when! I still, to this day, am so incredibly grateful for this specific act of service towards me as I recovered from childbirth. It was especially wonderful when I was busy trying to juggle the needs of a newborn and my 15 month old at the time! I had no clue what I was doing. But that meatloaf (and the brownies!), the 15 bean soup, the fresh salads, the parmesan chicken and pasta, made that hard but short season so much better. And yes, I actually do remember most of the meals people brought me! That’s how meaningful they are.
If I didn’t get the chance to thank you for that meal you brought me, please hear me now: THANK YOU so very much! Your generosity and kindness has set the bar and I will not rest until I know that my other postpartum mom friends are taken care of just like you took care of me.
With that said, here are 10 (ok 11) tips and tricks I’ve learned about serving moms with meals and setting up a meal schedule, in no specific order:
- The sites I know to use are takethemameal.com and mealtrain.com – I have used both and they are great! Definitely the way to go in our modern era. If you know of another one, share in the comments below.
- Try to bring your meal in a container that you can either throw away or you don’t care about having back (we don’t want to give her more dishes to worry about).
- Ask if they have a deep freezer. If yes, then you can bring a freezer meal or double up so they have extra for later. If not, keep it to what they will actually need for that day because they may not have room to store extra food in their fridge or freezer.
- If your church group or MOPS group or some other community group starts a meal schedule, try to share that one link amongst your different groups (like family, personal friends, coworkers etc). That way all the information is in one place, there won’t be any overlap, and there will be less confusion.
- If you’re not sure your friend has had a meal schedule set up, ask them and if it’s okay with them go for it. They will be thankful.
- Consider bringing a meal twice, a couple of weeks apart! Because, why not?
- Do not stay to chat or expect to be entertained. Bring the food and go. Let mom focus on rest and family time, healing/recovery is priority. There will be time for socializing later.
- Encourage a few people verbally to sign up so you know that they are for sure covered for part of it.
- Try to allow a serving window between 3 and 6 weeks (this can be a really hard, sleep deprived transition time that mom is in right after having a baby). If she’s healing from a C-section or her baby has had a challenging start with health issues, consider opening it up to a longer time frame. But always ask the momma what she wants.
- Desserts are okay in moderation but healthy foods rich in nutrients are essential for a healthy recovery and especially if the mom is producing milk. Healthy food will help her frame of mind and her body handle the stress she’s been through and is currently in. And always ask if there are any food allergies!
- If you’re not sure what to make, think about what you craved right after giving birth (I remember craving egg bake and when I got that egg bake I ate SIX pieces of it! Sheesh). Or think about what your favorite meal is and make that. You can of course always ask the mom what meal she would love to have next.
Side note: you can apply these meal serving tips to other big life changes too. Is someone you know going through surgery? Moving? Adopting? Any kind of major life change or hardship may warrant someone stepping up and putting together a meal schedule.
What was your experience like with meals after baby? Did you have people help and bring you food? Did you wish you had that kind of support but didn’t? Share with us in the comments!