If you thought popping out a baby would end the problems associated with your pregnant body, you were possibly right. But if you thought it will end ALL your health problems, you were not quite right.
If you’re a new mom and breastfeeding your child, you might have realized by now that the journey is not easy! While your uterus is getting back in shape (until 6 weeks postpartum), you’re feeling an increased demand in resources for feeding a human life every couple of hours. Not getting enough sleep at a stretch impacts the milk supply further. One question that frequents a new mom’s mind is, am I making enough milk for my baby? And then you hear a friend is successfully breastfeeding their child for up to two years, one feels de-motivated and almost disappointed in themselves.
I am here to assure you that you’re not alone. Each one of us has had their fair share of problems with breastfeeding – some couldn’t make the baby latch properly causing acute pain in nipples, some of us couldn’t produce enough milk and did start or thought about starting the formula milk as a supplement or some of us simply didn’t have enough strength to hold the baby every couple of hours to make them feed for another 60 minutes.
In this post, I am sharing traditional age-old food wisdom from the country of my origin (India) which has not only helped me and women in my family in their breastfeeding journey but also played a great role in healing the bodies postpartum.
- Water: This is recommended by doctors too. Breast milk is more than 80% water so feeding a child every two hours can dehydrate your body. So, it’s natural that your intake of water should be maintained at least 8-10 glasses of water a day to keep up with the demand for breast milk
- Ghee: If you haven’t heard of this, you might be familiar with the closest equivalent of this , the Clarified butter. There are stark differences in how they are made and eventually the nutritional value they deliver. You can have a read here to know more about the differences. Coming back to ghee. Although intake of this calorie dense food in excessive amounts can lead to obesity or cholesterol problems, the health benefits associated with 1-2 tbsp. daily intake of this super food outweigh any side-effects that it might otherwise have. Ghee is not only a rich source of antioxidant but also relieves constipation and acidity, common conditions during first few weeks after delivery. Ghee is essential for the body to absorb Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin essential to boost bone health and tooth health
- Cumin: These iron rich seeds are supposed to stimulate breast milk production. Not only are these seeds flavorful but help relieve gastric problems. You can simply add roasted cumin seeds into any dish or simply have a glass full of water with cumin seeds as the first thing and you can expect to see a boost in your milk-production
- Fennel seeds: Fennel seeds are supposed to relieve the problem of colic in babies. When a mother intakes a limited amount of these, the benefits are passed onto the baby through the breast milk. You can simply boil about 1-2 tsp. fennel seeds in 1 liter water and drink that water through the day. This will greatly help in reducing bloating after the delivery
- Pulses or/and eggs: High protein diet including at least one of the two food groups is essential to keep up with the rapid growth of the baby. I used to have a boiled egg as the first meal of the day to get started with the breastfeeding marathon (Ha-ha!) . If you’re a vegan , the protein rich pulses are a must in your diet each day.
- Nuts and dried fruits: The power packed food should be your go-to snack when you feel strong hunger pangs while feeding the baby in the middle of the night. They not only are rich in fiber, protein and iron but also provide body with essential micronutrients which the body gets depleted of during childbirth.
- Jaggery: Most of us are aware that having white sugar is detrimental to our health. However, one might feel like eating something sweet once in a while. Organic jaggery (in cube or in powdered form) is a healthier alternative to having chocolates and cakes which are empty calories. Jaggery is known to aid in supply of breast milk too.
- Carom seeds: Popping a baby out comes with its own fair share of problems for the female body, at least in the initial few weeks. Having gas and acidity is one of the common ones. Carom seeds is one of the best solution for these. Just boil a large quantity of water and add 1 tbsp. of carom seeds and sip the filtered water throughout the day to relieve yourself of the pain.
Wondering how to consume the above food items regularly?
I am sharing recipes of a few Concoctions that include one or more ingredients from above list and provide all the goodness that’s needed during lactation. These are commonly given to lactating mother in Indian households, especially during the first 6 weeks after delivery. They are rich in essential nutrients and good in taste too.
- Jaggery (gur) and Cumin (jeera): When my mother first made this for me and said that this increases the supply of breastmilk, I honestly thought that it was a fad prevalent in the older generations. I still had it as I have a sweet tooth and used to eat one tbsp of this as a dessert. Now I am not a 100% sure if it was this or a combination of factors, but I did experience an increase in supply of breastmilk with regular intake of this magic potion. If you want to give this a try, this only takes a couple of minutes and you can have it till a few days later.
- In a wok, warm a little bit of clarified butter or ghee
- Add a few tbsp. of cumin seeds and stir until they are crackling but don’t burn
- Add powdered jaggery to above and stir continuously
- Turn off the flame when jaggery has melted
- This tastes amazing when hot but you can store it and have a tbsp. of it after meals or whenever you like, a couple of times in a day
- Carrom seeds (ajwain) and fennel seeds (saunf) water: Instead of drinking normal water, sip this water throughout the day and you’ll watch your bloated stomach go away easily. You might not like the taste of it in the beginning but you’ll get used to drinking this flavoured water
- In large saucepan add water and turn on the gas
- Add both the ingredients and bring water to a boil
- Let this boil for 5 minutes until the water absorbs all the flavours and goodness
- Let this cool and use a strainer to pour filtered water into container of your choice
- It’s good to drink this warm but ok to have at room temperature
- Panjeeri: Now I don’t know the equivalent word for this dish in English nor do I know how to make this myself but I did enjoy eating this for a good 3 months until after my delivery. Making panjeeri involves a long cooking process but this is truly worth it in terms of nutrition it provides, the taste and of course the long shelf-life without adding any preservatives to it. Having a small bowl of this would be a meal in itself. If you’re looking after baby and yourself alone, have this ready by your bedside in case you can’t get up to cook your meals. Of all the recipes that I have seen, I liked the one I share below the best
The recipes I share above can work wonders both post vaginal and c-sec deliveries but do check with your healthcare provider if you have not had these ingredients in your life before or you think you might be allergic to these.