Nourishing the New Mother

By Erin McGuigan - Birth Doula -


Proper nourishment for a woman who has just given birth is vital, not only for her recovery, but also for her baby. When a mother in your community is born we can nourish her by bringing meals round and holding baby while she catches up on sleep. Simple, but so effective. Endless nights of broken sleep have the power to be physically and mentally damaging. The simple gift of soup and an hours nap can be incredibly restorative to a woman who may have only slept a few hours the night before and still hasn’t had breakfast by 2pm.

I love to care for and nourish new mothers in this humble and unpretentious way. I don’t have a degree in science, nutrition, or any of the medical professions. But I have 10 years of experience of taking care of a family, and I nourish a new mothers, the way I would nourish my own family, for cooking is, as Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, says, “an act of love”.

If the mum and her family eat meat, then I make them a homemade chicken soup with plenty of leftover broth. I freeze the broth in glass containers of 250-400ml in size. This way, if she’s feeling particularly run down, she can defrost one of the containers in the morning and drink the broth for lunch.

Homemade chicken soup is long known for its healing properties. Studies show that it actually has medicinal qualities, mitigating infections. It is easily digestible, and contains many valuable nutrients. It contains, among other things:

• Chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage, which helps reduce joint pain and inflammation
• Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine — all of which have anti- inflammatory effects.
Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better

Ultimately, chicken soup feeds, repairs and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine, the beginning or ending of the nervous system.

My Chicken Broth Recipe


  • 1 whole (preferably organic) chicken
  • 4 litres cold filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 12 peppercorns, few sprigs fresh thyme (or 1-2 tsps dried thyme)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon, turmeric, ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp good quality sea salt

Put all ingredients into a large stock pot. The water should just cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and remove any scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavourful it will be. Ten minutes before finishing the stock, add the parsley to impart additional antioxidants to the broth. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and pour liquid and remaining bits through a strainer to another pot. Allow chicken to cool, and when cool enough to handle remove meat from the bones. You can use the bones to make a further reduction if you wish. I like to save the breast meat to use in the next day’s meal, but use the remaining meat for the soup.

This chicken broth recipe will easily make two batches of soup for four. To make a simple chicken soup, combine 2 litres of broth with the chopped chicken, 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, and any other vegetables you like in your soup.

For the vegetarian mums, I offer a vegetable stock from potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms. I add to this fresh seasonal vegetables and some cooked pinto or navy beans for a hearty soup.

I also encourage all women who have just given birth to avoid processed foods, trans fats and sugar, and to take an excellent quality multivitamin, probiotics and eat some fermented foods daily.

Erin McGuigan is a birth and post natal doula who is passionate about helping families set their children up for a lifetime of physical and emotional wellness, starting from pregnancy, on through to birth and then in the early years.

To read more about Erin click here.

Take a look in our natural health shop where we have a fantastic range of oral vitamin and probiotic supplements that will support your health during pregnancy and after birth.

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