Are you wondering what to eat after giving birth and for breastfeeding? Feeding your body with the best postpartum healing foods can make it easier to recover and and make breast milk. Postpartum nutrition is a topic that a lot of Mom’s gloss over because there is so much focus on the new baby.
However, everything you eat from the first meal after giving birth to the postpartum meals you eat for the first few months should be carefully considered.
Even if you have a hard time focusing on your own healing after birth, nothing will get a mama’s attention more keenly than a colicky baby. Am I right? A baby with gas and colic may be a sign that the foods that you are eating are not digesting properly, nor providing the best possible nourishment for you and your baby.
What Foods to Eat After Birth
The food you eat after birth plays a crucial role in your recovery, as well as the digestibility of your breast milk. Knowing the best foods to eat after birth will not only strengthen your own postpartum recovery, but it will also help you have a solid and digestible breast milk supply to nourish your baby.
Ayurveda, which is translated as “the science of life” is a system of natural healing that has been practiced in India for millennia. Unlike Western medicine which focuses on curing disease after it’s manifested, Ayurveda offers practical guidance on lifestyle choices that prevent disease and imbalances from occurring. Your diet and the foods you eat have the ability to create balance or imbalance in your system.
Knowing which foods to eat after birth can be quite instrumental in having a strong postpartum recovery. Following a specialized postpartum diet plan with healing and rejuvenating foods, is the single most important way you can positively affect your recovery after birth. Luckily, Ayurveda has time tested wisdom on which foods are the best foods to eat after birth.
Before I share with you the best foods to eat after birth, I want to touch on the importance of rebuilding your digestive fire after delivery.
Virtually all new mothers have weak digestion after birth. That’s because it takes an incredible amount of energy to bring a new life into this world.
Quite amazing restrengthening your digestive fire is one of the first steps to a healthy postpartum recovery and breast milk supply. Start with well-spiced porridges, puddings and breastfeeding friendly soups and slowly graduate from there as your appetite increases.
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Best Foods to Eat After Giving Birth (By Category)
In this list, you will learn the 2 best foods to eat after birth by category. All of the foods listed below are proven to be both highly nourishing and digestible.
If you incorporate these foods as the main source of nourishment in your postpartum diet, you will be well on your way to a strong postpartum recovery.
Best Oils: Ghee and Sesame
Ghee – also known as clarified butter, is one of the most important contributors to a healthy and strong recovery after birth. It deeply nourishes depleted tissues down to the cellular level and hydrates more than water ever will (Although it is still important to drink plenty of warm water!).
Here’s a fun fact: ghee doesn’t contain any lactose and is suitable for those with a lactose intolerance. I can personally attest to this. I generally can’t handle cow dairy but I LOVE ghee and my belly does too. 😉
Sesame oil – this warming and deeply penetrating oil will lubricate your intestines and stimulate your digestion after birth. It will help you feel more grounded, soothe your nerves and promote a deeper sleep. Cold-pressed, unrefined sesame oil is best for postpartum healing.
Best Fruits: Dates and Figs
Dates – considered a superfood in Ayurveda, these sweet treats are high in vitamins minerals, and antioxidants. Dates are a nutritive tonic that will nourish both your depleted tissues and your immune system. They can also help replenish your milk supply and promote a peaceful state of mind.
Figs – another wonderfully rejuvenating fruit, figs build energy and vitality after birth. Figs are high in fiber as well as have a cooling, emollient quality that soothes and coats the lining of the intestines.
These healthy postpartum snacks can reduce your chances of constipation as well as reduce any inflammation in the digestive tract, including hemorrhoids.
Best Nuts and Seeds: Almonds and Sesame
Almonds – another Ayurvedic superfood, almonds are the most rejuvenating foods in the plant kingdom. They are a key factor in building strength and a healthy recovery after birth. They contain the most protein out of any nut, making them a great source of protein for vegetarians as well.
It is best to soak them overnight and peel off the skin, which is difficult for digestion.
Sesame Seeds – makes its second appearance in this list due to more amazing rejuvenating qualities of this special little seed! Sesame promotes healthy milk production, helps rejuvenate your reproductive organs, as well as strengthens your bones, and teeth, and helps postpartum hair loss.
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Best Veggies: Fennel and Yam
Fennel Bulb – a nursing mother’s best friend, fennel increases breast tissue as well as encourages a healthy milk supply. Its sweetness has a cooling effect which helps calm the mind and soothe the nerves. Fennel bulb is a great replacement for celery in soups and stews.
Yam – grounding, nourishing, and sweet as well as a tonic for the female reproductive system. Yams are preferred over sweet potatoes, which can be too drying after birth.
Best Carbs: Basmati Rice and Unleavened Wheat
Basmati rice – is aromatic, nourishing and easy to digest and also promotes your vital life force. Basmati rice congee is a very important postpartum medicinal food in Ayurveda for new mothers. It is a spiced rice gruel that is traditionally served the first few days after birth to gently nourish the mother and build her digestive strength back up.
Unleavened Wheat – although wheat has become quite unpopular in recent times, it can be a healing postpartum food for those who have no issue with it. It can help build strength after birth.
Wheat is best eaten in it’s unleavened form including farina (cream of wheat), semolina and fresh flatbread. Avoid dry crackers.
Best Sweetener: Molasses and Maple Syrup
Molasses – has a rich mineral profile and is wonderful for rebuilding the blood after birth. Its heavy, warm, sweetness has a soothing effect on the nervous system while also relaxing tense muscles.
Molasses also relaxes the colon and promotes healthy formation of stools and elimination (making trips to the bathroom less scary!). It’s best used in moderation because it can cause stagnation if overused.
Maple Syrup – is rich in minerals as well as antioxidants. As a whole food, the sugars are digested more slowly, making the energy maple syrup provides more sustainable. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be quite helpful for our swollen lady parts after birth.
Make sure you buy real maple syrup and not pancake syrup which isn’t a healing food.
Best Dairy: Spiced Milk and Paneer
Milk – is the most regenerative food after birth – when prepared correctly. Just as it is a baby’s perfect food to help them grow big and strong, the same can be true for a postpartum mother, but it must be prepared properly.
Many who have a hard time digesting milk, may be able to digest it perfectly when prepared in this specific way:
- It is important to start with milk that is as fresh as possible and unhomogenized.
Goat milk can be substituted for those who are allergic to cow milk.
- Bring the milk to a boil, This helps break down the protein molecules, making it easier to digest.
- Add some digestive spices to it such as cinnamon, ginger, and/or cardamom.
- Optionally you can add a dollop of ghee and sweetener to make it even more yummy and soothing.
Made in this way, milk becomes a rejuvenating tonic that will calm your nerves and promote a strong recovery and milk supply.
Paneer – is a fresh, unfermented curd made from boiling milk and adding lemon juice to separate the curd and the whey. This is the best “cheese” you can eat during your postpartum window, as it is fresh, light, and easy to digest.
A great vegetarian protein source for vegetarian mamas that also satisfies any cravings for heavier, more difficult-to-digest cheeses after birth.
Best Vegetable Protein: Mung beans and Quinoa
Mung Beans – split, peeled mung beans, also known as mung dhal, are extremely nourishing after birth. Commonly made into a soup or stew with rice (kitchari), this little bean is the foundation of the vegetarian version of chicken soup. Offering a sense of comfort as well as nourishment, mung dhal’s restorative properties help rebuild your strength after birth.
Quinoa – where do I start? Proposed by NASA as the perfect food to take on extended space flights, quinoa has earned the title superfood. For postpartum mamas, quinoa offers many healing benefits. It has higher concentrations of protein and fat than most other grains, providing healthy, sustained energy.
Quinoa is high in iron, helping to rebuild the blood after birth. Quinoa contains more calcium than milk, making it a great asset for vegan mamas. It also is high in fiber and easy to digest, consequently soothing the mama’s sensitive digestive tract.
Best Animal Protein: Chicken and Fish
Note: Due to the heaviness associated with meat, it is best to wait at least 4 weeks after birth before consuming it, with the exception of bone broth. For those who can’t do without it and are planning to eat meat anyway, these are the two recommended options during the postpartum period. Best in soup form, starting with broth and slowly graduating to actually eating the pieces of meat in the soup.
Chicken – is grounding and nourishing, and can be used as a medicine for building strength after birth. The dark meat of chicken has both a heavy oil and fat content, which is particularly grounding and nourishing after birth.
Fish – lighter than poultry, fish is a good choice for an animal protein source after birth. Rich in healthy oils and Omega-3 fatty acids, fish can improve your mood and help you have healthier sleep.
Best Seasonings: Fennel Seeds and Ginger
Fennel Seeds – are a wonderful spice for postpartum mothers and their breastfeeding babies. Fennel is an excellent digestive, as well as relieving uterine cramping and colic in babies. It also increases breast tissue and builds a healthy breast milk supply.
Ginger – can be both eaten fresh or dried. Fresh ginger warms the entire body, stimulates digestion, rejuvenates reproductive tissue, and relieves cramping, all without overheating the body.
Dried ginger is very heating and is very effective at stimulating sluggish digestion, as well as bringing clarity to a foggy brain. It’s best to avoid dried ginger if you have rashes or inflammation.
No matter how nourishing a food may be, it will not promote your healing and rejuvenation if you can’t digest it. This is why Ayurveda stresses building your digestive fire during your 6-week postpartum window of recovery.
It is best to start off with very simple, light, well-spiced soups (with plenty of ghee/sesame oil) and stews and gently graduate to more substantial and heavier foods over time. This will ensure that you rebuild your digestive strength, and be able to extract all of the nourishment from the foods you are eating.
By focusing on your digestion, as well as rejuvenating foods, it will not only help your own recovery but will also supply you with a very nourishing and digestible breast milk supply for your baby.
This is a guest post by Ameya Duprey CMT, AP, AyurDoula fromShakticare.com
Ameya Duprey is an Ayurvedic practitioner, postpartum doula and blogger who teaches parents and birth professionals how to heal postpartum with Ayurvedic postpartum care techniques.Want to learn more detail how to have a healthy postpartum recovery with Ayurveda? Get the free eBook here!
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More Postpartum Resources
Wondering how to care for your body and heal naturally after birth? This post shares some essentials for postpartum recovery that can help you care for your body and heal faster!
Need recipes that can help make breastfeeding easier? Check out this ebook with 12 healing freezer meal recipes specifically for postpartum.
Want to avoid a colicky or fussy baby? Learn the foods to avoid while breastfeeding.
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