Technically the Postpartum Period is the first six weeks following child birth, but we know it lasts much longer - up to two years. Giving birth takes a huge toll on your body and is the only naturally occurring time in your life where you lose large amounts of blood and Qi (energy) which needs to be replenished to return to full health and vitality.
Chinese Medicine Diet Therapy has a long history of use for Postpartum recovery. During the post birth period nutrition and diet is used to support recovery from pregnancy and childbirth, while replenishing strength and nutrients to meet the increased demands of motherhood. Key nutrients are lost during pregnancy and childbirth and these also need to be restored - zinc, folate, B12, iodine, selenium and Omega 3's to name a few!
Read on to learn how you can combine the best of Chinese Medicine Diet Therapy and Western Clinical Nutrition to support Postpartum Recovery and future health.
Eating for Postpartum Health - Phase 1
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Phase 1 = Week 1 post birth. Our digestive system needs to be working effectively for our bodies to properly utilise nutrients in food. Here are our top tips for Post Birth digestion which are especially important during the first 40 days.
🌱 Eat warm cooked foods like soup and stews that can be easily digested and make sure grains are well cooked.
🌱 Include warming spices in your diet like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, cardamom, orange peel & fennel seeds. These aid recovery and contain properties to help with postpartum abdominal pain and bleeding.
🌱 Eat smaller regular meal every 2-3 hours so you don't overtax your digestive system.
🌱 Drink lots of room temperature water. Without water your colon soaks up the fluid left in your food waste, resulting in constipation. This is worse if breast-feeding, so make sure you drink up to 12 glasses a day!
Eating for Postpartum Health - Phase 2
In TCM Diet Therapy Phase 2 = Week 2. The aim during this week is to contract the uterus and pelvic cavity, helping it return to pre-pregnancy size. During this time we also want to help eliminate any excess fluid from the body.
🌱 Red adzuki beans have a strong diuretic effect, helping to get rid of water retention
🌱 Protein to help with Postpartum healing is a must. High-quality organic meat is good as well as beans, pulses and tofu
🌱 Stir-fried Sweet Rice
🌱 Red coloured vegetables: enrich the blood and guard against constipation
🌱 Anti inflammatory spices; ginger, cinnamon and turmeric which are also emmenagogues - help contract your uterus
🌱 Add some basil to your food, it’s good for mood. Chinese dates, Longan fruit and lotus seeds are all traditional foods used post birth to support mood
Eating For Postpartum and Future Health - Phase 3
Phase 3 is technically the 'delayed postpartum period' lasting 3 weeks to 6 months. In fact we now know it lasts up to two years!
During this time we need to replenish nutrients and renew physical strength. These foods nourish our bodies and support mood and hormone health.
🌱 Foods to nourish 'Qi' and Blood - rich in Iron, A and B Vitamins including B12:
- Organic animal protein
- Black beans
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Red fruits like cherries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Grass fed or organic bone broth
- Egg yolks
- Whole grains
- Goji berries and Chinese Dates
🌱 Foods to nourish 'Yin' which are high in Omega 3’s, Zinc and Iodine:
- Oily Fish & seafood
- String beans
- All dark coloured beans
- Dark berries like blackberries, mulberries, and blueberries
- Fluids like soups and stocks
🌱 Don’t forget to add foods for breastmilk: barley, millet, asparagus, brown rice, fenugreek, fennel seed and oats are great to help boost milk supply.
🌱 Include seeds rich in magnesium, zinc, selenium and B6: flax, pumpkins, sunflower, black sesame. These are all great mood foods.
🌱 Lots of fruit & veg: to aid digestion and prevent constipation.
Nutrition, physical and emotional support are the cornerstones of Postpartum Recovery.
At HQ | Intelligent Health we know it can be hard as a mum to get the nutrition you need. That’s why we have created Post Birth Vitality to support your post birth recovery, hormone regulation, vitality and milk supply. Post Birth Vitality is a scientifically formulated superfood blend made from Chinese Medicine ingredients, wholefoods and organic natural vitamins.
For more information, go to HQ | Intelligent Health
Traditional Sweet Rice Recipe
Rice 150 g
Dried Longan Fruit (Arillus euphoriae longanae) 100g (can buy from Asian grocer)
Dark brown sugar e.g. rapadura 100-200g
Filtered Water 2L
Optional spices: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, cardamon and ginger (to support contraction of your uterus).
Method of Preparation:
1. Put rice, Longan Fruit, Spices and Water into a pot, cover, and soak for 1 hour.
2. After soaking ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat
and allow to simmer for 8 hours.
3. Turn off the burner. Add brown sugar. Divide into 2 portions. It’s ready to serve.
Sweet rice is a great ‘sweet treat’ for mums supporting all Post Partum phases.
Red Adzuki Bean Recipe
Red adzuki beans 200 g
Brown sugar 150 g
1. Put red adzuki beans and water into a pot, cover, and soak for 8 hours.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
3. Turn off burner. Add brown sugar. It is ready to serve.
Traditionally eaten twice a day in the morning and afternoon. Recipe makes 6 serves.
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