Confession: attempting to feed another human being off my own flesh has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Granted, let’s not play the tiny violins too loudly. A sense of perspective is important.  Will and I had a great birth. The first day we came home from hospital I made French toast croque monsieurs and felt a smidge of smug. We had this in the bag.

Until we didn’t. We had Will’s tongue tie and cleaving to navigate. There was my paltry supply and his dwindling weight. There were expensive pumps, which in my sleep deprived haze I couldn’t figure out how to assemble . There were appointments for weekly weigh ins at a community health centre with pistachio walls and a lingering smell of antiseptic hand wash. There were prescribed regimes of feeding for 40 minutes, topping up with a bottle and then attaching myself to a pump for 15 minutes. Which left 45 minutes to nap before it all started again.  That went on for a few weeks of borderline madness. Then there were drugs which made me ravenous and shovelled 5 unwelcome kilos back onto my frame.

If it wasn’t for Lynne McKensey-Hall (RN, RM, MN(Ed), IBCLC), I don’t know what I would have done. Lynne was the brilliant lactation consultant who came to the flat one soggy Friday morning in September last year and helped get us on track. In the middle of some sound advice about routines and switch feeding she asked me about what I was eating. She pressed that in order to look after myself I should lean on slow and smart carbohydrates. I think I laughed a little. It was something I knew at heart- heck I was even madly testing recipes for a book all about their merits. But I didn’t quite clock that if  ever there was a time to be eating that way, it was in the aftermath of Will’s arrival. Instead, I was  having a closeted love affair with cake, toasted sandwiches (see above), scones and muffins. I was comfort eating, big time- but as it turned out, all of those simple sugars weren’t actually giving me much comfort at all.

At this point I think it’s best if I  hand over to Lynne who has happily shared her top tips on getting through those first, crazy weeks- a time which now, nearly one year on, I can look back at and marvel at how we made it to the other side.

“During the six-week postnatal period immediately after the birth, your hormones are doing their best to keep you relaxed and laid back so you feel more inclined to stay by the fireside, so to speak. This time is for meant for you to be feeding and protecting your baby rather than out hunting and gathering. My three top tips for looking after yourself are:

  • make the most of the hormones making you feel relaxed and use them as a good excuse to rest or sleep twice a day even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes.
  • Drink hot or cold drinks to quench your thirst throughout the day
  • Eat a variety of easy to prepare slow carbohydrate snacks and meals foods as the best daily energy source for you especially while you are breastfeeding.

Easy to prepare meals and snacks based on slow release carbohydrates are the best choices for improving and maintaining your energy throughout the day. High sugar ‘fixes’ don’t work and ultimately reduce your chances of losing the pregnancy weight you are no doubt keen to lose. Slow released carbs will help you lose weight safely and sensibly without risking your milk supply or your own nutritional and health needs.”

While I still believe that cake can be very important for morale, (I’m tempted to start a hashtag to accompany #cutthecarbs for promoting the book of #thisisnotadiet) here are some of the slower carb/ can be eaten one handed snacks that I turned to to help get me through (and helped me shed enough of that excess weight to have the portrait for the book taken when Will was 11 weeks old).

As for us- we’ve nearly reached the 12 month mark and I’m starting to think about shutting down the milk bar. There are teeth on the horizon. And he’s not afraid to use them.  Will is up and about (last night he took his first steps!). A new phase is dawning.  Life with The Hungry Ones, big and small is good.

My Favourite Slow Carb Post Baby Snacks

A slow carbohydrate is one that is lower in GI, which means it’s absorbed slower and will keep you full for longer.  The basic premise is to stop leaning on the big four (white rice, white potatoes, white pasta and noodles and white bread) as every day, every meal foods. Filling up on slower/smarter carbs like oats, pulses and seeds like quinoa, linseed/flax and chia is one easy hack to get you through.

Quinoa Bircher Muesli

Having a big tub of bircher muesli in the fridge was a saviour. It meant that  breakfast (at 3 am, or 11 am), or a sustaining snack was ready cued- all I needed was a bowl and a spoon, The quinoa here adds some extra protein and the flaked almonds are also a boon for supply. It’s also an easy thing to mix together while totally sleep deprived, one handed, or to ask someone else to do for you.

Recipe here.

Banana Oat, Choc Nut Cookies

These remain a staple in our house; flourless, packed with oats, ground nuts and the sweetness of banana.  These days I swap the chocolate out for cacao nibs (hipster that I am). I sometimes add an extra egg and 1/4 cup of ground flax to help round them out. Will and I often share one or two over a coffee (for me) at 10.30. They’re virtually indestructible, can be made in one bowl and make an excellent gift to a new mum too.

Recipe here

Boiled Eggs with Herb Salt

These were originally designed with quail eggs as a slow carb starter for a dinner party. These days I use hen eggs, and hard rather than soft boil them. One day when lots of wheels were falling off the wagon my buddy Alex turned up at the house with a care package of muesli, yoghurt and strawberries. And she promptly put half a dozen eggs onto boil. Being able to scoff a boiled egg one handed as I sat down to feed was often the quick hit of protein that I needed to stop me getting the wobbles (or shovelling a Kit Kat in my face). Flavoured salts are an optional novelty.

(Additional tip- add a tsp of bicarb soda in with your eggs when you boil them, it will make them easier to peel. Placing the eggs straight into cold water after they’ve boiled will also help avoid the unsightly grey/green ring on the yolk. A boiled egg will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days happily).

Recipe here

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Patties

These are excellent made in bulk and frozen. They can be quickly perked up in a toasted sandwich press. If you were having issues with supply, you could also add in some ground fenugreek to the spice mix (fenugreek being reputed to help boost things). The lentils and chia will help keep you full for a good stretch of time.

Recipe here

Black Bean, Chocolate and Raspberry Loaf

This cake is made in three minutes in a blender, baked in half an hour. It’s flourless, tastes like a chocolate brownie and packed with protein and fibre from the beans. It’s a winner.

Recipe here.

FOR MORE:

There are plenty of other great, slow carb solutions, not just for snacks, but for easy dinners, breakfasts and lunches in ‘Cut the Carbs’ (which is still at a discount at Book Depository and UK Amazon)

ABOUT LYNNE

Lynne McKensey- Hall has a range of great books about all things baby;’Breastfeeding and Baby Matters’. They’re reasoned, empathetic and practical. You can order them here.

https://www.betterbeginnings.com.au/book

She’s based in Sydney, but also offers skype consultations. She is a godsend.
https://www.betterbeginnings.com.au/