Post Partum and beyond .....
The post-partum phase or Fourth Trimester is a well-recognised important time for new mothers and their babies. It is an important time in recovery and replenishing resources consumed by the pregnancy and birth.
Nutrition, physical and emotional support are the cornerstones of Postpartum Recovery.
Diet Therapy, we are what we eat and diet therapy is an effective method of healing the body. Good postpartum nutrition can make an enormous difference to the experience a mother has and her ability to recover well.
Chinese Medicine Diet Therapy has a long history of use for Postpartum recovery, replenishing strength, and nutrients to meet the increased demands of motherhood.
Eating for Postpartum Wellbeing
Our digestive system needs to be working well for our bodies to properly utilise nutrients in food and this is especially important in the first 40 days post-partum.
In Chinese Medicine we want the “cooking pot” that is your stomach to be working optimally. These tips have that concept in mind:
Easily digested and warming ..
Eat warm cooked foods like soup and stews that can be easily digested, ensuring grains are well cooked.
Include warming spices in your diet: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, cardamom, orange peel & fennel seeds. These aid recovery and contain properties to help with postpartum abdominal pain and bleeding.
Eat smaller regular meal every 2-3 hours so you don't overwhelm your digestive system and help maintain the effectiveness of that “cooking pot” in extracting the nutrients you need.
Room temperature water. Again, the idea is to keep that “cooking pot “simmering and cold water may douse the flame of that “cooking pot”.
Further, without sufficient water your colon soaks up fluid left in your food waste, resulting in constipation.
Breast-feeding can exacerbate this, so make sure you drink up to 12 glasses a day!
Week 2 and beyond ….
The goal here is to help return the uterus to pre-pregnancy size and contract the pelvic cavity. We also want to help eliminate any excess fluid from the body.
Protein to help with Postpartum healing is a must. Choose your sources. High-quality organic meat is good as well as beans, pulses, and tofu
Red adzuki beans have a strong diuretic effect, helping to get rid of water retention
Anti-inflammatory spices: ginger, cinnamon and turmeric which are also emmenagogues - help contract your uterus.
Add some basil to your food, it’s good for mood. Chinese dates, Longan fruit and lotus seeds are all traditional foods used post birth to support mood.
Stir-fried Sweet Rice
Moving forward ….
Moving past the first few weeks into the 'delayed postpartum period'. This can last from three weeks to six months and even up to two years.
During this time the brief remains to replenish nutrients and renew physical strength. In Chinese medicine terms this is to nourish the Qi, the blood, and the Yin aspect.
These foods nourish our bodies and support mood and hormone health, nourish 'Qi' and Blood. They are rich in Iron, A and B Vitamins including B12:
Grass fed or organic bone broth
Red fruits like cherries, raspberries, and strawberries
Organic animal protein
Dark green leafy vegetables
Goji berries and Chinese Dates
Foods to nourish 'Yin'
These are high in Omega 3’s, Zinc and Iodine:
Oily Fish & seafood
Fluids like soups and stocks
All dark coloured beans
Dark berries like blackberries, mulberries, and blueberries
Breastmilk, viewed as an extension of the mother’s blood, can be supported with the inclusion of barley, millet, asparagus, brown rice, fenugreek, fennel seed and oats which are all reputed to help boost milk supply.
While seeds such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower, black sesame are all great mood foods, rich in magnesium, zinc, selenium and B6.
Lots of fruit & veg: to aid digestion and prevent constipation.
Early parenthood is often depicted with rainbows and butterflies, yet in reality, it is a significant change and disruption which can overwhelm coping strategies / resources.
This is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, it is a conversation that needs to be aired frequently and clearly.
New parents that find themselves not coping may feel to be failures when they compare themselves to all the social media depictions and marketing of the whole new world they have found themselves in.
For some (and I am certain this under reported) it is not all sunshine and lollipops.
If you are one of these new parents do not hide from it. There are services and support available. I have included some links in this blog in the resources.
If you need, reach out. You are not alone.
Traditional Sweet Rice
Sweet rice is a great ‘sweet treat’ for mums supporting all Post-Partum phases.
Rice 150 g
Dried Longan Fruit (Arillus euphoriae longanae) 100g (can buy from Asian grocer)
Dark brown sugar e.g., rapadura 100-200g
Filtered Water 2L
Optional spices: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, cardamon and ginger (to support contraction of your uterus).
1. Put rice, Longan Fruit, Spices and Water into a pot, cover, and soak for 1 hour.
2. After soaking ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat
and allow to simmer for 8 hours.
3. Turn off the burner. Add brown sugar. Divide into 2 portions. It’s ready to serve.
Red Adzuki Bean Recipe.
Traditionally eaten twice a day in the morning and afternoon. Recipe makes 6 serves.
Red adzuki beans 200 g
Brown sugar 150 g
1. Put red adzuki beans and water into a pot, cover, and soak for 8 hours.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
3. Turn off burner. Add brown sugar. It is ready to serve.
The first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. Based on author Heng Ou's own postpartum experience with zuo yuezi, a set period of "confinement," in which a woman remains at home focusing on healing and bonding with her baby, The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth.Want to know more? Click here
Food is the best medicine--Chinese food therapy is here.
Your body is a temple--honor and heal it with nourishing foods. The Chinese Medicine Cookbook is your introduction to traditional Chinese food therapy--and how to prepare your daily meals to increase your health and happiness.
This practical approach includes the basic information you need to personalize your diet through every season. Bring traditional Chinese medicine fundamentals of balance--yin and yang--to the flavors on your plate and the energies in your body. With easy-to-find ingredients and helpful tips, you'll master recipes like Roasted Carrot-Ginger Soup, Miso-Honey-Butter Roasted Chicken, Penne with Arugula Pesto, and more. Want to know more? Click here.
Gemma Smith: Experiencing challenging thoughts, feelings, or situations while pregnant or as a new parent? I’m on a mission to normalise professional perinatal care. Want to know more? Click here.
We connect parents that are struggling to navigate the complex waters of pregnancy and new parenthood to the critical mental health services you might need most. Want to know more? Click Here