As emphasised from the last blog post, postnatal care is about self-care after birth and preserving the body and reproductive health for future pregnancies and long term wellness. What is it that constitutes ‘good’ nourishment from the TCM perspective and exercise during the first 40 days of your postnatal recovery care?
Good nourishment for postnatal recovery is about eating meals using a handful of ingredients without compromising on taste. It is crucial that in the first 40 days after birth, the body is nourished with warm, energy boosting, blood building, easy to digest and simple cooked meals as much as possible. Good nourishing meals with simple ingredients and the understanding of what it does for the body, is the key to self-care after birth. Think of postnatal care as recovering from a cold but taken up a few notches. The body is more worn out from birthing than you realise, and resources taken out of your body for breastfeeding, plus the demands of being a new mother can take a huge toll on the body. Therefore, it is important that meals are prepared to aid digestion, warming to the belly and heart and, generates and builds resources that have been depleted. The diet during the first 40 days is about restoring and nourishing your health and body back to balance.
In reality, especially in Australia, having a helping hand after childbirth can be challenging. Unless you have a community, mother/mother-in-law, sister, midwife or a postpartum doula that you could get support from, the journey of postnatal care rests entirely on you. This may seem daunting at first, but with some planning during the last few weeks of your pregnancy (34-39 weeks), you can organize meals, make broths to freeze, stock up the pantry and make a list of simple, easy to cook meals whilst taking care of your newborn yourself and your family.
Here are some suggestions on ingredients and food preparation from the Chinese medicine diet therapy:
Congee (traditional Chinese porridge made from rice that helps to strengthen digestion, boost energy and aid in recovery), stew, soups and everything slow cooked.
Methods of cooking
Slowly and gently simmer in a slow cooker, rice cooker, in the oven or over the stove top. We would highly recommend using the first three methods on the list – slow cooker, rice cooker (there are modern rice cookers that cooks congee at a touch of a button) and/or in the oven, as this will allow you to put all the ingredients into a pot and walk away from it. Being efficient and effective, without compromising on nutrition is key to postpartum recovery! Simply throw in prepared ingredients (this can be done beforehand and frozen) into a cooker, add broth or stock (again, this can be done easily beforehand and frozen) and press a button and in a few hours… et viola! You will have a meal cooked for you whilst having the time to rest and attend to your new born throughout the day. You can also cook a delicious congee the night before in the slow cooker. There’s nothing like waking up to the aroma of delicious congee for breakfast. The main idea is to prepare the main ingredients beforehand and freeze them, cook in bulk for as many portions you can, and freeze them, in the event you are just too exhausted to cook anything.
Eat more of
These food suggestions help to build Blood, restore energy and strengthen the Spleen/Stomach organ to aid in the process of building Blood.
Simple grains eg. Rice, organic 5 grain rice (brown rice, red rice, buckwheat, millet, black rice), oats, barley, wheat, bran
Vegetables – beetroot, button mushrooms, cabbage, celery, dark leafy greens, shitake mushroom, spinach, watercress, bok choy, choi sum, kai lan, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, yam
Fruit (hard fruits preferably stewed and eaten warm) – apples, apricot, date, fig, grape, peach, raspberry
Beans – black bean, aduki and kidney beans
Seeds – black sesame
Fish – sardine, tuna, mussel
Consume in small amounts
Meat eg. beef, chicken, pork and lamb. As meat takes a bit of work to digest in the body, during the first 40 days after birth, the body is considered deficient and weak. Hence it is advisable to consume only a small amount of meat which is preferably stewed, or slow cooked to aid digestion.
Anything and everything cold including cold drinks, raw food, cold salads, smoothies and ice-cream
Chinese herbs to add into soup, stew or congee
Dang Gui, Bai Shao, Gou Zi Qi, Dang Shen, Huang Qi, Wu Zhu Yu, Chuang Xiong, Da Zao – these herbs are used to build Blood, boost energy, restore the essence and rebalance the body’s health and aids in milk production. In Chinese medicine, breast milk is the extension of Blood. The idea is, if you have a continuous diet and herbs that help build Blood, then there will be ample supply of breast milk flowing from the breast.
Sipping warm tea
A medley of Long Yan Rou, Da Zao & Gou Zi Qi - this is brewed and saved in a thermos that you can sip throughout the day to boost energy and blood production
If you are in doubt about where to source these recommended Chinese herbs, we can source a postpartum pantry kit for you that are prepacked and ready to use in stock, soup and stew. Send us an email and we will be happy to organise a kit for you.
Besides diet, exercise is also important. Angeline Liew, an internationally accredited Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga educator from Prana Yoga KL says, “Almost everyone wants a “quick-fix” to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back...but every body is different, and everyone recovers at a different rate. Whilst as a general rule of thumb, it is best to honor the first 40 days of post partum with as much rest and recovery as possible, it largely depends on the individual. Restoring and strengthening the body after baby, requires mindfulness and awareness of what the body has gone through. This includes post partum specific issues like Diastasis Recti (abdominal muscle separation), weakened or dysfunctional pelvic floor, hip and lower back pain, unstable sacroiliac joint, and stiff shoulders, to name a few. Rest well, and when you’re ready, embark on a postpartum strengthening and rehabilitation program with a trained Postnatal Yoga or Postnatal Pilates professional. Give your body some love and compassion. Being in a hurry can sometimes slow down the recovery process”.
What more information on how Chinese medicine diet therapy or the postpartum herbal pantry kit to aid in your postnatal recovery? We offer a FREE 15 minute consultation in our clinic. Come chat with us. Simply BOOK ONLINE or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to attend to your queries within 48 hours.