A few weeks ago, we shared a viral photo of a mama eating a sandwich right after giving birth . It went viral for a reason: Pretty much every mother out there can relate to having that intense craving for a certain food right after giving birth.
We asked you to share what your must-have post-birth meal was. Here’s what you said—but be warned: Reading this is going to make your very, very hungry.
  • Deep-fried Oreos and a mushroom melt
  • Rice gruel and fresh bean fry
  • Oysters and champagne
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese croissant
  • King prawns
  • Domino’s pizza
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Medium rare steak
  • Glazed donuts
  • Frosty and french fries
  • Sushi
  • Chicken caesar salad
  • Prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich
  • Poached eggs
  • Spaghetti with a side of mashed potatoes
  • Homemade peanut butter oatmeal cookies
Sigh, I love you all. Also, I’m hungry. One note is that depending on your specific situation, you might have to wait a bit before you can have the glorious first bite. For example, C-section mamas usually need to wait until they pass gas to make sure that it is safe for them to eat. But one thing is for certain, no matter when you eat that first meal it is going to be the best.

Since this is such a universal sentiment, we thought it would be fun to explore the why behind it. Here are three reasons we love that post-birth meal so much.

1. Stress elicits cravings—pregnancy and birth can be stressful!

When we get stressed, our bodies release the stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol is released, your body increases the rate at which it processes carbohydrates and fat; it does this to make sure you have enough energy to handle the stressful situation you’re in. Our bodies still think we need to be able to run away from bears, after all. The result of all this fat and carb-burning is hunger, especially for fat and carbs! So now let’s connect this to pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy is amazing, but it can have its share of stress, too: the worry of everything being okay, the busyness of all those appointments and the huge to-do list, and of course, the anticipation of birth—I share in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama that almost 80% of women have some degree of nervousness about giving birth. All of these factors can lead to an increase in stress. Giving birth comes with its own levels of stress, too—the concern that everything goes well, tension caused by discomfort and pain, and of course, the excitement of finally getting to meet your sweet baby all contribute to higher levels of cortisol. The result of all this potential stress: hunger. So it makes sense that we are extra excited about that first postpartum meal. We’ve been building up to it for a long time.

2. Certain foods may make you happier

Scientists have found that certain foods may give us a boost of serotonin, the hormone that helps us to feel happy. One of the ways this happens is by eating foods that contain an amino acid called tryptophan (the sleep-inducing factor Thanksgiving turkeys are famous for). Higher levels of tryptophan make it easier for our bodies to make and use serotonin. Here are a few foods that contain a high level of tryptophan —and as you read them, you’ll notice some similarities to the post-birth meal list above.
  • Salmon
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Spinach
Your body is smart. It knows what it needs! This is one of the reasons why emotional eating happens. When we get sad (or angry or stressed) our body is trying to help us by craving foods that could help us to feel better.

3. We want what we can’t have

Most health care providers in the United States advise that pregnant people avoid certain foods to reduce their risk of ingesting dangerous bacterias that could cause infections. Some of the foods on the “avoid list” include:
  • Cold deli meats
  • Raw fish (like sushi)
  • Undercooked meats
  • Unpasteurized cheeses
(For a full list, check out 10 foods to avoid during pregnancy—and why .) Notice any similarities to your list of post-birth cravings? Our bodies (and let’s be honest, our emotions) craved these foods for a long time during pregnancy, but we couldn’t have them—and there is nothing like being told you can’t have something to make you want it even more. So plan that meal, mama. It is completely normal, super common and so well deserved after all that you have done to grow this baby.

Here are some of our favorite products to make that first post-birth meal as easy and yummy as possible.

Bamboo food containers

bamboo food container Bringing your dream postpartum meal to the hospital with you? Keep it fresh and secure in a leak-proof Ekobo bamboo food container. The lid suctions to the container for ease of use. This container will be a favorite long after you give birth.

Lunch bag

lunch bag For carrying snacks to your birth, the Ekobo lunch bag is perfection. It’s made from recycled water and soda bottles and keeps food warm or cold. Plus, it has pockets for utensils.

Traveler bottle

welly water bottle Dreaming of coffee? Bring your favorite with you in the Welly traveler bottle. Its stainless steel design keeps your beverage hot or cold for hours. And it comes with a removable infuser so you can brew tea or infuse fresh fruit into water on the go. Fresh lemon water during labor? Yes, please!

Birth bag

prepacked birth bag We are obsessed with the pre-packed bags from Belly & Bag. They have everything you need, so you can spend your time daydreaming about that post-birth meal, instead of worrying about getting your hospital bag packed.
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