"A group of ladies will come in to make meals, then each of them will donate a meal to the mommy-to-be. This gives all the ladies a fun night out, but at the same time they are making meals for their own families, and it's a win-win situation," says Jezek. "We even had a group of ladies having a baby shower set up a Dream Dinners session for the husbands. While the ladies were at home having the baby shower, all of the husbands were in making meals, then each of them donated a meal to the parents-to be.
A recent trend in mother's groups and communities are "stork clubs" where women sign up to make meals for each other when a member returns home from the hospital after the birth of a new baby. You can join a mom's group in the months before your due date and get yourself on a list. You will have to return the favor regularly, but most women feel it's worth it. If a stork club has seven or eight people in it, that's at least a week's worth of meals for you. Plus, you've made some new friends to help share in the joys and work of parenting.
Janine Nikkel, a mother of three who is expecting her fourth child soon, knows how hard it can be to keep a household running smoothly after the birth of a new child. "For everyone I know who has a baby, I make two meals and freeze them in disposable dishes and take them a week after the baby arrives home," she says.
If you are planning to nurse, you'll need about 500 extra calories a day to help keep up your milk production. Stock up on quick snacks you can eat while you're nursing and if you get hungry after a night feeding. Good snacks include individual containers of yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit mixed in, string cheese, fresh or dried fruit, and nuts. And be sure to drink plenty of water.
"Nursing requires extra nutrition, and a lot of mothers get so caught up in taking care of their baby that they forget to eat," says Sharon Birdseye, an RN and IBCLC with the Lactation Consultants of Atlanta. "Poor diet, while it may not affect the production of milk, causes fatigue and weakness which can affect let down. Nursing mothers should eat frequently throughout the day," she explains.
Plan Ahead Now
If you plan ahead and organize your grocery lists and meals—and maybe make ahead some freezer meals, too—the transition from hospital to home with a new baby will be a lot easier. If a friend or family member tells you to call them if you need anything, tell them you'd love a meal, even if it is just sandwiches from a local deli.
Be sure to keep a list of everyone who brings you meals so you can send thank-you notes once you get a spare moment, and so that you can return the favor when the time comes.