You need to continue to eat well after your baby arrives. A healthy diet will give you the energy to keep up with a growing baby’s increasing demands and will also give your body the chance to heal naturally. Also, as a breastfeeding new mother, the rich nutrients you intake are passed on to the baby and your diet is primarily responsible for keeping both you and your little one healthy.
Some foods are a must in confinement period in India and these foods are carefully selected to offer a new mother a plethora of nutrients.
Even if you aren’t practising confinement traditions, still try and include these foods in your daily diet:
- Oats or Dalia – Oats are a powerhouse of calcium, iron, fibre, proteins and carbohydrates. They help to keep constipation at bay and also have a high nutritional value while not being overtly high in calories. Create a yummy recipe using oats cooked in milk and add a few nuts or fresh foods to increase its nutritional value as well.
- Haldi or Turmeric – An Indian spice, haldi contains Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C along with manganese, magnesium, potassium and fibre. It has amazing healing properties and has been used for centuries in India for healing both internal and external wounds. It also reduces any internal inflammation and comes in handy for treating post pregnancy wounds while also curing stomach disorders. Simply add turmeric to your daily meals or add a half teaspoon to a glass of milk.
- Dry ginger powder or saunth – Dry ginger powder contains iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium along with Vitamins E and B6. It has great anti-inflammatory and is recommended for mums who have just had a baby to reduce any internal swelling. Add a spoonful to your sabzis, meats and curries and let the spice work its magic in speedy healing.
- Dal or pulses – Rich in fibre, iron, proteins, and vitamins and many minerals, dals are a staple in Indian meals and are very good for new mums. Especially moong and masoor ki dal are easy to digest and will bring you more energy while also combating constipation. They also don’t let fat collect in your body and work as an additional bonus food.
- Carom seeds or Ajwain – Not only are these excellent for digestion and gastric problems, these also have a reputation to be great to cleanse your uterus. The Thymol contained in carom seeds is an antibacterial, an antioxidant and also has some excellent antiseptic properties. Add these to paranthas and rotis or simply put a spoonful in your sabzis and dals.
- Finger Millet or Mandua – This is an excellent source of iron and calcium, both of which are essential for a breastfeeding mother. Not only will this cereal help you regain your strength after child birth faster but it also is a low-calorie alternative to rice and refined flour and will also help you lose weight. This can be used to make rotis, halwas and dosas and are the perfect alternative for women who are allergic to milk and milk products.
- Almonds or badaams – One of the most widely used nuts in India; almonds contain carbohydrate, Vitamin B12 and E as well as fibre, copper, magnesium, manganese, calcium, potassium and zinc. No wonder they are the powerhouse of energy; a must have for new mums. Add it to desserts or simply snack on a handful when you feel drained of energy.
- Green Vegetables – All Greens are a great source of iron which is important for you to recuperate faster after delivery. From methi, palak, beans, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce to seasonal greens like parwal and tinda, these vegetables must be a staple part of your diet to regain strength.
- Methi seeds – The seeds of methi have vitamins, minerals, calcium and iron and hence will help to prevent backaches and other joint pains while you recuperate and start on a fitness regimen. These are easy to use in sabjis and dals as a seasoning and have a lot of health benefits.
- Black sesame seeds – A powerhouse of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and copper these are good to replenish your body with all essential nutrients you lost while childbirth. They are easy to add to any recipe – whether main meals or desserts.
While these foods are considered to be healthy for a new mum, your doctor might also ask you to take some supplements based on your individual needs.
As a breastfeeding mother, you need to ensure that you consume a well-balanced diet and also intake extra calories to support the adequate formation of milk.
While the baby is about 6 months old, ensure that you take 550-600Kcal extra as to what you did before you got pregnant. Once the child is about 7 months old and you continue to breastfeed, take only 400Kcal over your pre-pregnancy calorie intake because the baby can also intake some other solids and liquids and doesn’t need to rely only on mother’s milk.
Your post-pregnancy diet should stay very similar to a pregnancy diet. Ensure that you eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, juices and milk products. Opt for food items that have higher nutritional value and are packed with fibre rather than choosing foods with empty calories.
While you want to eat enough calories to support the growing needs of your breastfeeding baby, you also want to ensure that you lose weight now that you have delivered.
Drinking 10 to 12 glasses of water every day will ensure that you maintain a healthy milk supply. You can also intake other fluids like buttermilk, fruit juices, coconut water etc.
However, some researchers believe that what the mother intakes directly passes on to the baby in breast milk, so you might want to refrain from alcohol and also limit intake of caffeine.