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Recovery from childbirth: postpartum food

When the baby comes, we are often gifted with casseroles and other heavy, dense foods. While your friends and neighbors are giving from their hearts, you might find your belly can’t handle their gifts. To complicate things further, any work your digestive tract has to do takes away from the process of making optimal milk. If your milk is less than optimal, your baby can easily become gassy or colicky. If you want to sleep, you want to avoid colic at all costs.

The Best Postpartum Foods

All of your food needs to have these qualities:

  • liquid or moist
  • oily
  • warm
  • spiced

While this list is simple and straightforward, not many people know about it. Which means, that you will have to explain to your friends and family members, who are trying to support you, that all of your foods for the first few weeks need to be warm, moist or liquid, oily, and well spiced.

Food ideas for immediate postpartum

  • Rice pudding with spices, ghee, raw sugar, basmati rice
  • Oily, spiced cooked vegetable soups
  • Cream of wheat with dates
  • Barley konji with sesame seeds
  • Yams, sweet potatoes, cooked roots
  • Date & almond shake – soak the almond!
  • Spiced warm raw cow’s milk
    • Simple yogurt lassis (homemade yogurt, water, spices, salt,
    • Dahl & kitchari
    • Simple vegetable soups

First Days’ Rice Pudding 

Recipe shared from Sarita Shrestha, OBGyn, BAMS (Ayurvedic Physician). Prep Time: 10 min. Cooking Time: 4 hours.  Serves 4

Put on to cook during labor (or in a crock) and serve throughout the day, even up to 5 times daily the first few days after birth, if desired. Make fresh daily.

16 c pure water
1 c basmati rice
2 c dark, iron-rich sugar (succanat, Rapadura, molasses or dark jaggery)
½ c or 2-3 T ghee per serving (or (toasted) sesame oil)
2 t ginger powder
2/3 t cinnamon powder
½ t clove powder
½ t black pepper or long pepper/pippali (best!)
1/3 t loose not packed saffron (or 2/3 tsp turmeric)
½ t anise seed or cardamom powder

1. Bring water to a boil in large heavy-bottomed pot. Avoid aluminum or Teflon.

2. Pour water over rice and stir, rinse and repeat about two more times, to remove any powders or enzyme inhibitors. Add to the water and boil, reduce heat to simmering without a lid, stirring occasionally for several hours.

3. When beginning to thicken, add the sugar and all the spice powders. Add 1/2 of the ghee.Continue to cook slowly and stir as needed.

4. When consistency is gelatinous, serve steaming hot, with added ghee (another Tbs or more). Keep hot and serve as desired through the day, with as much of the dark iron-rich sweetener and ghee as desired and a cup of hot boiled milk.

Foods to avoid postpartum

AVOID the stuff people tend to want to nourish you with. Including:

  • lasagnas
  • other heavy casseroles
  • baked goods: muffins
  • breads
  • ice cream
  • frozen soups or stews
  • caffeine
  • refined sugars and flours
  • dairy (other than raw dairy)

The foods are not part of the postpartum diet is because they are difficult to digest and extract nutrients. You want to simplify this process of digestion and absorption as much as possible. Otherwise, you may develop a slew of postpartum symptoms including: bloating, constipation, postpartum depression, insomnia, irritability, and cravings for poor food choices. Furthermore, your baby may become colicky, irritable, or develop thrush. The stakes are high on what you eat for the first 42 days postpartum.

Avoiding Postpartum Symptoms

Because our western medical culture does not offer postpartum care or postpartum support, women are lead to believe that postpartum symptoms, including postpartum depression, is normal. Whenever a body is out of balance there are symptoms. Symptoms are our body’s way of communicating, usually quite specifically, the nature of the imbalance. Eastern medical systems use the specific of symptoms arising in the unique individual to understand the root cause of the imbalance. Then, the practitioner ascertains the cause of the symptoms in the patients lifestyle or diet.

If we eat cold, dense, heavy, previously frozen, or leftover foods, we are sure to have a cascade effect of postpartum symtoms, both in mother and baby. This is due to the delicate nature of digestion in the mother’s body with the event of the birth. If you birth in a western hospital, chances are you will receive an icy juice drink immediately postpartum. Ice is like poison to your system postpartum. You need warm, nourishing substances. Print the Pregnancy Tips packet in the right side bar to ensure you know what to ingest after the birth of your babe, to avoid postpartum symptoms.

Raw Food Postpartum Guidelines

Traditional Ayurvedic Postpartum guidelines recommend no raw foods for 3 weeks postpartum. However, many yoga moms are going raw, and don’t desire to go cooked postpartum. If this is you, simply keep in mind the guidelines above.

Here are some additional guidelines for raw moms:

  • Add coconut oil, ghee, or hemp oil to your raw soups and smoothies postpartum.
  • Blend avocados and ginger to your fresh juices.
  • Warm your juices, smoothies and soups.
  • Eat everything warmer than room temperature.
  • Spice all of your foods to help warm your digestion.
  • Sip hot water between meals.
  • Avoid nut-based meals or desserts. Choose avocados as your or coconut meat as your primary fats.

For the complete recipe books, as well as yoga classes, audio classes, and tools for your optimal postpartum self-care education, get the mamabirthing e-course!

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One Response to “Recovery from childbirth: postpartum food”

  1. On May 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm Lilian responded with... #

    Hi Cate – your pregnancy & postpartum tips don’t download – instead it brings you to YogiDetox mini e-course and does not mention postpartum in the ebook – can you help? :)

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