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Postnatal ‘Confinement’ Food Part 1

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During pregnancy, the baby is like a parasite and robs you of all the nutrients it needs. If your diet contains sufficient nutrients for both, this will not cause any problems. On the other hand, if you don’t eat enough for both, your recovery after childbirth will take longer and if you still don’t replenish your body stores during the postpartum period, you may remain weak for a long time. That’s probably why our elders make such a fuss about eating well during incarceration.

Wherever you are in the world, everyone will try to tell you what to eat and, if possible, how to eat it. The most important thing is to follow the needs of your own body. Whatever you eat, make sure you’re getting a balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and water at every meal.

Just keep the following tips in mind:

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  1. When you breastfeed, everything you eat gets passed to your baby through your breast milk. It is therefore important that you eat a balanced diet so that your baby gets the right nutrients for optimal growth and development.

  2. Some foods cause the baby to get “windy” or have loose stools. If you find that your baby is suddenly quite restless, try to think about what you have eaten in the last 12 hours. Avoid this food for a few days and then try again. If the same happens, you should avoid that particular food for a while and reintroduce it into your diet, taking a very small amount and watching how the baby reacts, and then slowly increasing the amount to allow the baby to adjust accustomed to food.

  3. You may notice that your appetite is a little less, especially in the first week. This is normal as your body is readjusting to its non-pregnant state, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is better to eat small meals frequently than the normal 3 large meals a day.

  4. You need to drink plenty of fluids to produce enough breast milk, and if you are forbidden from drinking water, you can get the amount of fluid from other sources such as soup.

So what to eat?

Most Eastern cultures believe that your body is cold after birth, so you should avoid cool or cold foods, but eat plenty of yang or “hot” foods to warm up the body. However, if you are normally a yang person, eating too much “spicy” food can cause skin rashes and fever. In this case, it would be better to reduce the amount of “spicy” food and eat more neutral food. If you’re normally a yin person, you shouldn’t have any trouble eating “spicy” foods (lucky ones). The table below gives you a quick overview of the types of foods to eat or avoid.

Types of foods to avoid

‘Cooling Food’ for example: banana, cabbage, cucumber, coconut and Chinese cabbage

Contribute to mother’s poor blood circulation and baby’s abdominal pain when breastfeeding. Salt as a condiment and salty foods in general should also be rejected, as it is assumed that consumption reduces breast milk production

“Sour foods” for example: pineapple, mango, lemon, lime

Contribute to excessive lochia in the mother and diarrhea in the baby.

Too much “hot food” for example: chili, pepper, spices, tonics, spirits and medicines.

Contribution to infant diarrhea and maternal headaches

“Windy Food” for example: jackfruit, tapioca, squash, onions.

Contribute to colic in the baby and can cause indigestion in both mother and baby.

Toxic foods such as shrimp, shellfish, crab, eel, ginger

Delay the healing of the mother’s wound and can cause allergies and eczema in the baby. These foods can cause stomach upset and vomiting

Type of food recommended

To improve milk production

Chicken, squid, mussels (small varieties), fish (especially carp), millet, mutton, pork, rice wine, sea snail, soybean milk mixed with walnuts, wheat cake, wheat noodles with egg, green papaya

To give the mother strength to recover quickly from the exertion of labour.

Chicken, Frog, Panax Ginseng, Licorice Extract and Razor Clam

What you eat also depends on what you believe in and who is cooking for you. If it’s your mother or MIL, you may not have many options. I’ve seen women fight and not speak to each other over this issue. Try to find a compromise that is acceptable to both parties. Use a persuasive and logical approach instead of confrontation.

Thanks to Cecilia Koh

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