What to eat during the confinement period. By Sasha Gonzales
Our experts share their recommended foods for the stressful postpartum period. (Photo: peridotmaize / www.pixabay.com)
The practice of conﬁnement is common in Asia and happens during the postpartum period, or when a mother has given birth. This practice started decades ago when infant and maternal mortality rates were high. “Keeping baby and mother indoors during the period of conﬁnement (30 to 44 days) was meant to protect both from ill health,” says Dr Tan Thiam Chye, consultant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
There are numerous ideas surrounding conﬁnement that stem from Asian beliefs and folk medicine – from what to eat to the prohibition of certain tasks – but Dr Tan points out that most of these have no scientiﬁc basis. You need to eat well not just to keep up your strength and stamina, but also to ensure your breast milk is of a high quality. He warns that your nutrient stores may be used up for breast milk if your intake is low.
Here are the best foods that new mums should eat to keep up their strength and stamina to care for and breastfeed Baby.
Continue to maintain a balanced diet after giving birth. (Photo: dbreen / www.pixabay.com)
1. What to eat after giving birth: A balanced diet
2. What to eat after giving birth: TCM herbs
During conﬁnement, Dr Gladys Leung, TCM practitioner at the Hong Kong-based Gladys Leung CMP Clinic, recommends taking sheng hua tang herbs – dang gui (angelica sinensis), chuan xiong (rhizome chuanxiong), tao ren (peach seed), pao jiang (processed ginger) and zhi gan cao (processed liquorice root) – to relieve abdominal pain or discomfort.
3. What to eat after giving birth: Foods to increase lactation
To boost milk production while you are breastfeeding, try fenugreek, a spice used in curry. “This is safe but excess consumption may cause loose stools,” says Dr Tan. If you do not like curry, try fenugreek capsules from health food stores, or make your own fenugreek tea (three teaspoons mixed into a glass of hot water makes one serving, drink up to four servings a day).
Dr Leung also suggests drinking a soup that combines unripe papaya with peanuts, chicken feet and ﬁsh to increase lactation.
4. What to eat after giving birth: Drink lots of fluids
Drinking at least 10 glasses of ﬂuids a day is also important. What’s more, breastfeeding mums, who are unable to maintain a balanced diet (see #1), could beneﬁt from drinking special fortiﬁed milks, adds Dr Tan.
To nourish the blood and eliminate water retention, make a red bean with coix seed (Chinese pearl barley) drink, suggests Dr Leung. Soak a handful of red beans in water for half a day, then remove. Bring a saucepan of fresh water to the boil, add the beans and some coix seeds, and boil for two hours. Add brown sugar to taste.
Don’t be in a rush to shed your post-pregnancy weight. (Photo: mojzagrebinfo / www.pixabay.com)
5. What to eat after giving birth: No crash diets
You might be concerned that you still look pregnant, but don’t rush into slimming down after giving birth. “Going on a weight-loss diet while breastfeeding is not recommended. If you shed more than 2.5kg a month after the ﬁrst month, you may be eating too little,” says Dr Tan. Plus, postpartum or not, crash diets don’t work.