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Postnatal ‘Confinement’ Food Part 1
During pregnancy, the baby is like a parasite and will take all the nutrients it needs from you. If your diet is sufficient in nutrients for both, it does not cause any problems. If, on the other hand, your diet is not enough for both, then your recovery after birth will take longer, and if you still do not replenish your body stores during the period of confinement, you may remain weak for a long time. This is probably why our elders make so much fuss about eating well during the prison period.
No matter where you are in the world, everyone will try and tell you what to eat and if possible how to eat it. The most important thing to do is follow your own body’s needs. Whatever you eat, make sure you have a good balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, fat, carbohydrates, and water at each meal.
Just remember these tips:
1. If you are breastfeeding whatever you eat will be transferred to your baby through your breast milk, so it is important to eat a balanced diet so that your baby gets the right nutrients for optimal growth and development.
2. Some foods cause the baby to become ‘windy’ or have loose stools. If you find your baby fussy, try to think about what you’ve eaten in the last 12 hours. Avoid this food for a few days and then try again. If the same thing happens again, then you should avoid this particular food for a while and reintroduce it in your diet by taking a small amount and see how baby reacts then , slowly increase the amount so that the baby gets used to the food.
3. You may find that your appetite is a little low especially during the first week. This is normal as your body is readjusting to its non-pregnant state both physically and mentally therefore it is better to have small meals often instead of the usual 3 large meals a day.
4. You need to drink a lot of fluids to make enough breast milk and if you are restricted from drinking water, you can get enough fluids from other sources such as soup.
So what should you eat?
Most eastern cultures believe that your body is cold after delivery therefore you should avoid cooling or cold food but eat a lot of yang or ‘warm’ food to warm the body. However, if you are normally a yang person, eating too many ‘hot’ foods can cause rashes and fever. In this case it would be better to reduce the amount of ‘heated’ food and eat more neutral food. If you are normally a Yin person, you should have no problem eating ‘heaty’ food (lucky evil spirits). The chart below gives you a quick overview of the types of foods to eat or avoid.
Food types to avoid
‘Cooling foods’ for example: bananas, cabbage, cucumber, coconut and Chinese cabbage.
Contributes to poor blood circulation in the mother and abdominal pain in the baby if you are breastfeeding. Salt as a condiment and salty food in general must be rejected, too, in the belief that use reduces breast milk production.
‘Acidic foods’ for example: pineapple, mango, lemon, lime
Contributes to excessive lochia in the mother and diarrhea in the baby.
Too much ‘hot food’ for example: chillies, pepper, spices, tonics, spirits and medicines.
Contribute to diarrhea in the baby and maternal headache
‘Wind food’ for example: jackfruit, tapioca, pumpkin, onion.
Contributes to baby colic and can cause indigestion for mother and baby.
Eat poison such as shrimp, shellfish, crab, eel, ginger
Delays healing of the mother’s wounds and can cause allergies and eczema in the baby. These foods can cause stomach pain and vomiting
Recommended food types
To improve milk production
Chicken, squid, clams (small variety), fish (especially carp), millet, mutton, pork, rice wine, sea slugs, soy milk mixed with powdered walnuts, wheat cake, wheat noodles with eggs, green papaya.
To give the mother strength to recover quickly after labor.
Chicken, frog, Panax ginseng, licorice extract and razor clams
What you eat depends on what you believe in and who cooks for you. If it’s your mom or MIL you may not have much choice. I have seen women arguing and not talking to each other because of this issue. Try and work out a compromise that is acceptable to both parties. Use a persuasive and logical approach instead of confrontation.
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