Pregnant women use up a lot of energy and also lose a lot of blood when giving birth. It isn’t unusual for them to look pale and tired after a few intense hours on the delivery bed. Besides the painful aftermath of childbirth, their body is also learning to produce breastmilk for the first time, which means that their confinement diet should consist of more essential nutrients than before.
Confinement is the best time for a mother to rest, recuperate, and replenish herself with nutritious food to adequately provide for herself and her newborn baby. That’s why her diet during the confinement period has to follow the minimum requirements as suggested by medical professionals. It’s extremely important that the mother doesn’t fall sick during this period to ensure the healthy growth and development of her baby.
At the start of the confinement period, it is best for the new mother to consume multiple small meals every day. Also, her meals should be low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar, easily digested, not too heavy, and preferably in liquid or semi-liquid form.
What to include in my confinement diet?
As soon as your appetite is back to normal, you can start eating more protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables to speed up body recovery and boost milk production.
Some of the highly-recommended fruits and veggies are listed below:
- Black date
- Red spinach
- Chinese kailan
- Red beans
- Black beans
- Chinese mustard
- Sweet potato leaves
- Bok choy
- Green bell pepper
- Sweet pepper
- Bean sprouts
- Pine nuts
- Lima beans
- Red rice
- Brown rice
Traditionally, fruits and vegetables have a bad reputation for being harmful to a new mother’s recovery process. However, it has since been debunked by medicine and research.
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a confinement diet as they are a great source of fibre and vitamin C that meat, eggs, and dairy products don’t provide. Besides, they help stimulate your appetite, improve digestion, and prevent constipation — however, they should still be eaten in moderation.
In addition to that, seaweed, kelp, and mushrooms are chock-full of non-saturated fats which are important for the proper development of the baby’s brain and nerves.
The Golden Rules of the Confinement Diet
- Mix and match dry dishes with soupy or gravy dishes to enjoy nutritious and appetising meals instead of washing everything down with plain water after food. It’s advisable for you to switch out your plain drinks with either some fresh fruit juice or some appetite-stimulating ginger tea.
- Eliminate all cold, cool, and raw food (dishes and ingredients).
- Avoid acidic food and drinks like vinegar and lemon to prevent muscle weakness and sagging.
- Avoid eating fish and meat for the first 2 weeks after giving birth to reduce the burden on your body.
- Reduce the intake of sweets and snacks that are high in calories. Replace sugary fruit drinks with milk and sweets with fresh fruits.
- Consume more low-calorie and high-protein vegetables during the confinement period. The best types are beans, nuts, and green leafy veggies.
- Consume more meat, poultry, saltwater fish, and eggs (about 200-250g per day).
Important Diet Points to Note
- It is advisable to follow the advice of traditional Chinese methods of eating nourishing and ‘heatier’ dishes that use sesame oil, old ginger, and rice wine as ingredients.
- Dishes should be kept simple and easily digestible to prevent the recovering mother’s body from getting overwhelmed.
- Intake of salt should be strictly monitored to prevent water retention and sagging of internal organs.
- Try to consume more liver to help with improving lochia within the first week of childbirth.
- Consume more pig kidneys to improve body metabolism and shrink both the pelvis and uterus within the second week of childbirth.
- Consume more chicken cooked in sesame oil to restore your strength and energy within the third week of childbirth.
Photo by 心食谱
What is my daily intake requirement during my confinement period?
If you think it’s a bit of a hassle to remember how much of what to eat at which point of your confinement period, we’ve got it all simplified for you in the form of our 28-Day Confinement Healing Soup. Each set consists of 28 packs of herbs for 28 days of nutritious and nourishing confinement herbal soups.
These herbs are individually picked by our trusted traditional Chinese professionals for making soups that are specifically scheduled throughout the month to quickly improve lochia, restore Qi and energy, reduce bloating, soothe aching, stimulate lactation, and more. All you have to do is just boil each individual pack of herbs in 200-300ml of water (and optional lean pork meat) for your daily dose of strength and recovery. Learn more about our 28-Day Confinement Soup here.