American Postpartum Menu from 1913


This post is part of a series on Dr. Henry E. Tuley’s Diseases of Children which was originally published in 1909, with a second edition (the one I have) in 1913.

While Dr. Tuley recommends that the nursing mother should stick to a light and easily digested diet for the first few days after giving birth, he has no particular limitations on her regular diet:

“A nursing mother should lead a perfectly normal, healthy life. Her diet should be generous and varied. There are practically no articles of diet which, if they agree with the mother, will cause the milk to disagree with the child.”

He provides a sample menu plan for the six days following childbirth:

  • First day (after labor):
    • Breakfast– Cup of tea, or cocoa; a piece of dry or buttered toast.
    • Lunch– Beef, chicken, or mutton broth; toast or wafer.
    • Supper– Glass of milk, or cup of tea.
  • Second day:
    • Breakfast– Cereal and cream with cocoa or tea.
    • Lunch– Soft-boiled egg, rice and cream.
    • Supper– Milk toast, tea or milk.
  • Third Day:
    • Breakfast– Soft boiled egg, cereal, coffee or milk.
    • Lunch– Baked potato, gelatin jelly and cream, and milk.
    • Supper– Baked apple and cream or milk toast.
  • Forth day (after bowels have moved):
    • Breakfast– Cereal, poached egg on toast, breakfast bacon, and cocoa or milk.
    • Lunch– Squab or bird, potato chips or baked potato; cocoa.
    • Supper– Mush [cornmeal pudding aka grits] and milk.
  • Fifth day:
    • Breakfast– Cereal, broiled steak, hashed brown or baked potato; milk.
    • Lunch– Chicken, broiled or baked; mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus tip salad.
    • Supper– Milk toast.
  • Sixth day:
    • Breakfast– Lamb chop, soft boiled or poached egg, toast, cocoa and milk.
    • Lunch– Junket, [which is a hybrid between pudding and jello made with rennet, the stuff the makes milk coagulate for cheese making] cocoa, spinach, potato.
    • Supper– Baked apple or prunes, toast and milk.

Dietitians out there: I would love to hear your thoughts on this menu plan. 

Constipation was a worry (and no wonder with a diet like that) so bran muffins are recommended at the end of the menu, “Bran muffins made of bran and flour, equal parts, are especially useful during this period as a prevention of constipation.” However, Dr. Tuley warns that other sources of laxatives may affect the infant through the breast milk, and instead recommends, “at least half hour’s exercise in the open air daily and longer, if possible.”


What do you think about this menu plan? If you’ve given birth, do you remember what you ate during the first week? Did you have a menu?


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About Aradia Wyndham

Proficient nerd on most things baby/ culture/ history/book related. Disability advocate. Has a penchant for photography, languages, and panics when low on chocolate rations. Will embarrass self in any social situation to point out or pet other people's dogs. Habitual stumbler and tea drinker. People watcher, pizza slayer.