What To Eat After Giving Birth

Byline: Julia Jones

Pregnancy is a time of wonder, hope and anticipation. But after that little bundle of joy arrives many mothers find themselves struggling. Postnatal depression and divorce rates are high, and breastfeeding rates are low.  Over 80% of new mothers say they feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

But before I scare you away I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this. After giving birth women have very special physical and emotional needs, recognised by hundreds of different cultures for thousands of years. Anthropologists Stern and Kruckman found that cultures with low incidence of postpartum mood disorders share a range of protective social structures that provide support and care for new mothers.

Similarly, anthropologist Dr. Dana Raphael studied how humans have managed to keep their babies alive for so long when breastfeeding seems so hard. She found the same pattern occurring in nearly 200 cultures around the world. Ancient communities appreciate a new mother’s needs, not the least of which is your need to be nurtured and loved and cared for in the same way that you nurture and love and care for your baby.

Why hospital food is the worst thing you can eat after birth. And what to eat instead.

One of the key universal features of postpartum care around the world is warm, nourishing comfort foods. Soups, stews and puddings feature on international postpartum menus and are always cooked for the mother, not by her. Different cultures have variations in detail. I cook Ayurvedic food for my clients, based on ancient Indian medicine.

Ayurveda is an elemental science, meaning it is based on the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space. If you picture a pregnant woman you can see her abundance of earth and water! Childbirth is the biggest and fastest change in a woman’s life. In just a few hours her body loses vast amounts of earth (for example the baby and placenta), water (in amniotic fluid and tears) and fire (through her blood and sweat). Ayurveda emphasises balancing the elements in your body, meaning you need to replace the earth, water and fire that is lost in childbirth.

Even if you normally enjoy eating raw foods, Ayurveda teaches us that different foods are appropriate for different stages of life. Raw foods are suitable for people with strong digestion and lots of earth and fire. New mothers on the other hand are already high in air and space. The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Soups, stews and puddings, good fats and good sugars will give you the energy you need, but to digest them you will need to add spices and keep meals simple and regular.

An Ayurvedic postpartum diet is like weaning a baby. When you eat after giving birth, start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually, as your appetite and energy return you can go back to your regular diet. Sit down to eat fresh, homemade food regularly. If you only do one thing – eat cooked food.

You can see how standard issue hospital food does not fit the postpartum bill as it is often old, cold, dry and heavy to digest.

This is a recipe I suggest instead, as it aids digestion, has instantly accessible energy and builds blood. Rice pudding is a wonderful food for friends and family to bring you in hospital in a thermos, so add this recipe to your birth plan.

Nepali Rice Pudding Recipe

rice pudding

Cooking time 35 minutes
Serves 3—4

Ingredients

  • 5 cups pure water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

Bring water and rice to a boil in large pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add the sugar and spices and ghee. You may need to add an extra cup of water at this stage if your pudding is too thick.

Continue to cook slowly; stirring as needed. When gelatinous consistency add milk. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.

Serve hot, with sugar and ghee to taste. Serve as desired throughout the day.

This recipe is from my book Nourishing Newborn Mother – Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth. You can check it out at www.newbornmothers.com.au.

mailchimp size profile picJulia works with pregnant women who want to find peace and joy in motherhood and is the founder of Newborn Mothers. She is an Ayurvedic postnatal doula, recipe book author and creator of a weekly free pregnancy podcast. Click here to listen to her free podcasts.

Diet Smiet: Listen to Your Body + Smoothie Recipe

Diet Smiet Listen To Your Body(1)Byline: Rachael Alexander

Have you tried a gazillion and one diets only to find that you never stick with anything? I certainly have, and I’ve even made myself feel guilty about the whole ordeal. I’ve been a strict vegetarian, a strict vegan, and even a strict raw vegan, and each time  I’ve “fallen off the wagon”.

Now I personally don’t believe that there is a wagon that you can fall off of, and that life is more like a flowing river. And like the river that has many twists and turns so to will your diet or what you choose to put into your body. I’ve learned to let go of the strictness of it all, and ditch the religion of any one diet (which is a continual journey) and learn to do one thing: listen to my body. Another thing I’ve also found is that it doesn’t matter which diet you choose, every diet should include fruits and veggies.

In the process I’ve educated myself  and as a health coach know a lot about different diets and ways of eating. But even before I became a health coach the one thing that stayed consistent and has kept me at optimum health is listening to my body.

Here are some things I learned to help you do the same.

Diets Low in Processed Foods, Dairy, and Gluten

What makes me feel awesome no matter the diet, is consuming lots of fruits and vegetables. I’ve learned that whether I call myself a vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist etc., what makes me feel freaking amazing are whole fruits and vegetables. I’ve also learned by listening to my body that consuming a lot of processed foods that are high in dairy, gluten, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other no-no’s as it concerns a raw vegan diet makes me feel less than awesome.

I’m not strict, and of course living in American society, I do sometimes consume processed foods if I’m in a sticky situation or feel like “cheating”, but for the most part it’s whole fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts & seeds, and other non-animal protein like tofu or tempeh. I don’t want to tell you what diet you should choose, but I’d like to give you some brief information on a few diets that are low in processed foods and high in whole foods.

The following diets are taken from Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal from Chapter 4 on Dietary Theory (a great book and read).

Vegan

A vegan diet is one that is consisting of fruits, vegetables, lots of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. This diet also abstains and restricts all animal products and by-products including dairy, eggs, and honey. Veganism rejects the commodity status of sentient animals, followers often extend this principle into all areas of their lives and oppose the use of animals or animal products in any way.

5 Element Theory

A 5 element theory diet is one that originates from the ancient Chinese belief system that says that we are surrounded by five energy fields: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Keeping these elements in balance promotes harmony in our surroundings, and in ourselves. This theory promotes eating foods from the five phases including grains, tubers, beans, vegetables, and fruits. It restricts meat, sugar, overly processed chemical foods, deep-fried foods, liquor, beer, and wine.

Raw Food

A raw food diet is one that consists of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, sees, sprouted grains, and seaweed. It encourages that 75 percent of the diet must be raw and also that raw foods are foods that when cooked are cooked under heat no higher that 116 degree Fahrenheit. It restricts meats and dairy products.

Paleo Diet

The paleo diet derives from the philosophy that our bodies are designed to thrive on foods that were available to our early paleolithic ancestors from 10,000 years ago. It encourages foods that are grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. It restricts grains (flour), beans, dairy products, potatoes, refined sugar, salt, and processed oils.

Ayurveda

This diet is an ancient healing system from India that emphasizes eating in accordance with your individual body type and the seasons. The system promotes health and disease prevention through balancing the mind-body types (also known as doshas). This diet encourages that a basic meal should have something warm, something with protein, a salad and/or vegetables with good oil, spices and flavorings, a small sweet for dessert, walk, and rest. Each meal aims to cover all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter. It restricts foods that are heavily processed, have excess sugar and caffeine, and that have large amounts of animal protein.

Macrobiotics

Macrobiotic means “great life”, and is based on the philosophy that it is best to eat only natural foods, and balancing the yin and yang in the body is important. It encourages whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, soups, sea vegetables, and fish. It restricts dairy, meat, eggs, refined sugar products, chocolate, tropical fruits, coffee, hot spices, and nightshade vegetables.

There are so many more diets that exist out their and if you are interested you should definitely do some research, but I want to stress the importance of not adopting a diet over what your body is telling you. Your body knows best, and no dietary theory can replace its intelligence.

Listen To Your Body

Did you know that you have an internal healing and intelligence system within you? Your body knows exactly what makes it thrive and gives you the best energy, better moods, and allows you to live with vitality and abundance, all you have to do is listen to it. I discovered this when I started experimenting with different foods from all the diets I was trying. I would try a food and then pay attention to how it would make me feel after I consumed it. I concluded that if I didn’t feel awesome, more clear, more alert, or whatever ‘feel-good’ feeling I was going for then I didn’t need to consume it. It was really that simple.

Here are some clues to help you understand how to listen to your body. Experiment with some of the diets or foods mentioned above. Try different breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. Keep a food diary for however long you plan on doing the experiment, I’d say at least 3-4 weeks. That way you can have a week dedicated to each of the experiments. Every time you consume a food item write down or take a mental note of how you feel after eating that food, then wait 2-3 hours and write down how you feel again. Do this for every meal.

Start to notice whether a food gives you gas, makes you feel bloated, gives you a boost that lasts, gives you a boost then a crash, makes you feel sleepy, makes you feel grouchy, or makes you feel moody. Now after the experiment is done circle all the foods that made you feel awesome, energetic, alive, and clear and aim to eat more of those foods. Simple.

Here’s a great smoothie recipe you can try for one of your experiments.

Glorious Green Smoothie Recipe

Serves 1-2 Depending on Your Appetite :)Glorious Green Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pears
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup of compassionate milk (I’m using almond milk)
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 1 cup of pineapple

Directions

Add the kale and compassionate milk into your blender and blend until smooth. Then add the remaining fruits to the blender + some ice if you want it cold and blend until smooth. Then take a moment of gratitude and give thanks for this awesome delicious smoothie and enjoy!

 

Social Media Pic2Rachael Alexander is an Artist, Author, Health Coach, & Mosaic Soul. She is the creator of ENDIGO RAE, Home for Mosaic Souls: Individuals that are using their multifaceted nature to make their lives their art and masterpiece. ENDIGO RAE is a multi-platform lifestyle brand, online blog, and entertainment company that represents Rich Artistic Expression. It chronicles Rachael’s creations on how to be bold, be fearless, and be her most authentic self while helping others at the same time. On the journey to becoming our authentic selves, she focuses on life, health, creativity, and spirituality. Follow Rachael on Facebook, Instagram, and her Blog.