The whole process of childbirth is such a wonderful phenomenon of nature. After your baby is born, you have to ensure its nutrition in the early weeks and months by breastfeeding. To enhance the quality of your breast milk and to regain your strength, you have to eat foods that are rich in all the necessary nutrients.
In India, a new mother rests during the first six weeks after childbirth to sleep and rest well and to strengthen the bond between mother and baby. Her diet contains all the essential vitamins and minerals for her and her baby.
The major food groups in her diet are pulses, beans, cereals, grains, dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, roots, tubers, lean meats, oily fish, poultry and eggs. Ghee (clarified butter) is used liberally during the first couple of weeks after childbirth. Extra sugar, salt, coffee and tea are reduced during the first few weeks after birth. Coconut water & fresh butter milk is consumed in plenty in addition to plain water, in order to enhance milk production and prevent dehydration.
Spice is moderately added in the food during the initial weeks after childbirth in order to avoid upsetting the baby’s tender digestive system. In addition to calcium rich foods, she is given supplements of vitamin D and Calcium to strengthen her bones and teeth, especially if she is nursing her baby. Breast milk fulfills your baby’s need for calcium that is drawn from your bones and teeth, which is why you need to fortify yourself with extra vitamin D and Calcium. Taking supplements as a new mother will prevent risk of osteoporosis in future.
A new mother’s diet is supplemented with foods made out of fenugreek seeds/leaves, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, dry fruits & nuts, garlic, ginger, edible gum(gondh), whole spices and herbs to prevent postpartum gas. Iron-rich and foliate-rich foods like legumes, dry fruits, leafy veggies, meat and poultry are consumed to increase hemoglobin in the blood. Indian gooseberry (amla) is rich in vitamin C and is given along with iron-rich foods to improve absorption of iron in the body.
Oily fish like sardines, mackerels and salmon are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is very essential for development of brain cells. The quality of breast milk of a new mother will be enhanced if her diet contains omega 3 / PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids).
Alfalfa sprouts is rich in nutrients and taken as lightly steamed or as juice. Musk melon and raw papaya is eaten to enhance milk production. Meat eating new mother is given soups and stews made from lamb bones to strengthen her bones.
A new mother is discouraged from overeating. She has to eat just right, so that it is not hard for her to shed her excess weight, gained during pregnancy. Don’t go on any diet for at least six weeks after childbirth because as a nursing mother, you need all the nutrition you can get from fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and dairy.