More than any other time in her life, a postpartum woman needs proper nutrition. Around the world, the postpartum period is recognized as an essential time of rest and rejuvenation. After birth, women are physically and emotionally exhausted from the strain of childbearing. Their hormones are scrambling to reach a balance, and they are depleted of sleep, energy - and nutrients.
One of the best examples we have of proper care after birth is in the Chinese culture. In China, women are expected to rest for a full 40 days after giving birth. This time literally translates to “sitting the month.” Women are expected to spend this time resting, breastfeeding, and bonding with their babies.
Through the course of those 40 days, women are only allowed hot foods. Birth is said to deplete a woman of all of her warm qi, so the warm foods are meant to replace what was lost. She only eats nutritious foods like rice, soups, and teas, because her body needs to recover from the most physically trying season of her life.
Women who observe the 40 days of rest after birth benefit tremendously from the nutritional boost that they get during this time. The level of importance that chinese culture places on nutrition as a cornerstone of health and recovery is far from what we experience here in the US.
In the west, we tend to turn our backs on the idea of “balancing qi.” Most even scoff at the idea of using nutrition as a remedy for any sort of physical ailment. Yet, in places where nutrition is a key part of recovery after birth, women have better overall physical and mental health as they recover from birth. It’s worth it to give your body as much of what it requires as possible.
So, if you’re going to try and keep healthy after birth, what should you eat? Well, as much as possible, you should be eating whole, unprocessed foods. It’s really that simple.
Ok, I’m a mom - I recognize that it’s really NOT always that simple when you’re talking about caring for a newborn and yourself. It’s even harder when you’re going at it alone. But it can be done, and a little goes a long way.
Here are a few things that you can make and keep around during the postpartum period:
- Fresh fruit eaten raw can fill you up and provide a whole host of nutrients.
- Fresh vegetables - no need to cook these either! Just chop for a couple minutes and you’re good to go.
- Hot teas. Stay away from caffeinated while you’re nursing. But there are plenty of others that are safe for breastfeeding.
- Hot soups. Soups are easy to make and they are packed with nutrition. Plus, it’s relatively simple to double or triple a recipe and save leftovers for another time.
- Nuts and nut butters make an easy and healthy snack.
Women need physical restoration in many ways after giving birth, and nutrition plays a huge part in that. Do the best you can - your body and your baby will thank you.
To Your Health,Dr. Felicia Conner