Nouri Mama combines Traditional Chinese Medicine and ayurvedic practices to create healthy, nutritional, pre-made meals for pregnant and postpartum moms.

Like many first-time parents, I had no idea how exhausting the postpartum period would be. I had heard that sleep would be fleeting, that I should nap when the baby napped, but none of the parenting books or advice from other moms adequately prepared me for how deeply my physical and mental health would be impacted.

When we think of nourishment during this time, it’s often in connection with the baby, but birthing parents need to be nourished as well. Many cultures — including my family’s Chinese one — consider the first few weeks of the postpartum period critical for long-term recovery, and prepare specific foods to be eaten during this time.

I was lucky to have family nearby and in the month after my son was born, my in-laws dropped off containers filled with dishes that would help with my postpartum healing. But after that period was over, with my husband back at work and a newborn to worry about, we fell back into old habits — relying on takeout or Trader Joe’s freezer meals more often than not. It kept us fed, but it was completely opposite of the thoughtful, nutritious postpartum foods that my family had prepared with health and healing in mind.

Of course, even a month of postpartum help is better than none — which is the unfortunate reality for many new parents in the United States. With no federal paid parental leave or easy access to health services, families are left to figure out the postpartum period on their own. That’s why services like Nouri Mama, a pregnancy and postpartum meal delivery service founded in 2020 by Jennifer Jolorte Doro and Irene Liu, are so essential.

Jennifer Jolorte Doro and Irene LiuDoro, a clinical nutritionist, is no stranger to the maternal health space. The former pre- and post-natal yoga instructor was working as a postpartum private chef when she connected with Liu, a Wharton graduate with a background in public policy and a passion for nutrition education. Both were interested in making maternal nutrition more accessible and with that, Nouri Mama was born. The co-founders launched a pilot program in New York City in October at the height of the pandemic, knowing that it had been an especially difficult time for parents.

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“A lot of people were giving birth alone, their parents weren’t able to come and visit and help support them,” recalls Doro, who is also Nouri’s culinary director. “A lot of people were able to utilize our service and get support during a time when their families couldn’t travel.”

“Irene’s Taiwanese and I’m Filipino and Chinese, so there’s an infusion of Asian flavors as a whole. A lot of our philosophy is tied into Traditional Chinese Medicine and  ayurvedic practices, principles that have been around for thousands of years. But with my nutrition background, it’s a good blend of Eastern therapy meets Western nutrition.”

Nouri Postpartum Meal

Photo courtesy of Nouri Mama.

This initial success led to a larger production — Doro had been cooking, packing, and making deliveries herself for the pilot program — enabling more moms to access Nouri’s reheatable, nutrient-dense meals, all customized for both pre- and post-pregnancy health. To create the weekly menu, Doro draws on several influences: her clinical nutrition expertise, knowledge gained from her time as a postpartum private chef, and her own cultural heritage.

“Irene’s Taiwanese and I’m Filipino and Chinese, so there’s an infusion of Asian flavors as a whole,” she says. “A lot of our philosophy is tied into Traditional Chinese Medicine and  ayurvedic practices, principles that have been around for thousands of years. But with my nutrition background, it’s a good blend of Eastern therapy meets Western nutrition.”

The rotating menu features Filipino specialities like a mushroom version of sisig and adobo made with jackfruit, along with dishes like cauliflower scramble and quinoa tabbouleh. The common thread is ingredients that will nourish and energize new moms.

“People will often say they’re running on fumes, eating random snacks or a cake. A cake isn’t going to sustain you all day,” says Doro. “You want to have sustained energy so you’re not just going to have this adrenaline rush. We like to say that every ingredient is chosen with a purpose. It’s there for a reason.”

For example, the two namesake ingredients in Nouri’s watercress goji berry soup boast essential nutritional features that make them ideal for postpartum healing. “Watercress, especially during this time, is very cooling,” explains Doro. “It’s a bitter green that’s very good for digestion and has a ton of fiber in it. It’s hydrating and contains lots of water. Goji berries have natural sugars in them and are also high in antioxidants. It’s good for energy and can sustain and support the function you need, addressing fatigue, swelling, bloating, and digestion.”

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Nouri Mama currently delivers to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens and certain dishes can be ordered in the wider Northeast area via their partnership with Territory Foods. Expanding meal delivery can be tough, but Doro and Liu are looking for ways to grow Nouri’s reach, likely with its snacks, which have become an unexpected hit with moms.

“A lot of people love our snacks. They always ask us, ‘Do you sell snack packs?’ or ‘Can I just order snacks?’ and so we have a lot of fan favorites. It’s a natural product to start expanding with,” says Doro. She and Liu have also been thrilled to hear from Nouri’s community, not just when it comes to their food and service, but also their customers’ parenthood journey. “People share with us when their children are born. It’s such an intimate time in their life.”

“But, there’s something to be said about taking care of yourself during your fertility journey, your pregnancy journey, your postpartum journey, that helps set the foundation for a healthful life once you have kids and beyond.”

As maternal health — both physical and mental — continues to be part of larger public policy conversations about paid family leave and the status of Roe vs. Wade, it’s more important than ever to think about the ways we can and should care for new moms.

“Having support, whether that’s food or a postpartum doula or night nurse or babysitter, it’s really helpful. It’s hard, especially in this day and age, when people feel like they can do everything,” says Doro. “But, there’s something to be said about taking care of yourself during your fertility journey, your pregnancy journey, your postpartum journey, that helps set the foundation for a healthful life once you have kids and beyond.”

Nouri Postpartum Dessert

Photo courtesy of Nouri Mama.

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