I knew that I was particularly going to need help after the birth of my second child and luckily, the help I got surpassed all my expectations. Not only did my loving community brought me amazing food for weeks after the birth, but I also got to experience one of the most nourishing and comforting services a postpartum mom could ever enjoy: a food doula!
Sheila has been working in the food industry since she was 14 years old (for a total of 20 years) and gosh! Is she good at it! As a mom of two little girls, she has experienced firsthand the challenges of postpartum and the huge difference it makes to have support during such an important transition.
Sheila got into this work by participating in meal trains when her friends had babies. Her friends would tell her, “That was the most delicious and the healthiest thing I got in my meal train! Thank you!” People started telling their friends and everyone wanted a taste of it so she thought, “Hey! This could be a cool business and many people could benefit from it.” While researching healing postpartum diets from across the world, she ran into the Ayurvedic philosophy and immediately resonated with it. That’s how Sheila created her three-day menu for postpartum healing. I met up with Sheila for an interview to learn more about her services and the benefits of her food, so check out what she has to share with us!
MARISSA: What makes this food particularly good for postpartum healing?
SHEILA: It’s easy to digest! This food is slowly cooked for a long time with a lot of water. Also, if I’m using beans I soak them overnight. Ayurveda states the digestive fires are pretty much out after birth. I use warming spices like cinnamon, clove and fresh ginger root to help reignite those fires and wake up the digestive system. I also use Pippali (long) pepper to aid nutrient absorption. It’s very simple food. A sluggish system needs simple food that you can tolerate easily. You want your body to be focusing on healing and milk production, not digesting food.
M: You mentioned your food is “Ayurvedic inspired,” what are the differences between the food you offer and a traditional Ayurvedic postpartum diet?
S: Postpartum Ayurvedic diet avoids meat, because it’s hard to digest, so it falls in line with my personal philosophy. The main difference is that I avoid dairy. Traditional Ayurvedic postpartum diet uses ghee, milk and yogurt. When I first started doing postpartum food services, I cooked some stuff with dairy and my client's baby was having GI discomfort and being really irritable/colicky. She eventually discovered those problems were caused by cow milk protein sensitivity. Cow's milk sensitivity is not uncommon in newborns. My own baby is allergic to dairy and I have experienced firsthand what a struggle that can be. I prefer cooking vegan food anyways, so I thought that at least on the first few days, to get things off to a good start, it would be better to avoid dairy. My postpartum healing menu is all organic and vegan.
M: Tell us about your menu.
S: The first day I bring a rice pudding sweeten with jaggery crystals. Jaggery is originally from India and commonly used in Ayurvedic food. It’s very minimally processed and therefore very rich in iron, which we know is particularly important when recovering from all the blood loss of childbirth.
Experiencing Sheila’s postpartum menu was amazing. Not only was it delicious, but it was also so gentle with my recovering body (going to the bathroom wasn’t the nightmare I imagined it would be). I frequently find myself craving those delicious recipes again. Luckily for me, Sheila makes soup often and whenever I get a chance, I come get a quart and enjoy not having to cook. Did I mention my picky three-year-old eats her food without any complains?
If you’re pregnant in Olympia, WA and planning strategies to get the best early postpartum nutrition, contact Sheila to learn more details about her services. You won’t regret it!