Postpartum is a term for the timeframe after childbirth, but does not have a defined length of time many can agree on. For the sake of this article we will consider the postpartum period as immediately after childbirth through the first 42 days (6 weeks.)
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
~ Hippocrates, father of medicine
While physicians in America honor the Hippocratic Oath prior to becoming a doctor of medicine, they commonly forget where original medicine comes from: the land, food.
There is never a more sensitive time in the cycle of life than birthing another human. This is the hardest and fastest the birth-giver will ever work.
As an elemental science, a focus in Ayurveda is balancing of the five elements: earth, fire, water, air, and space.
Change in the pregnant body happens in as quick as flicking a light switch on. The body which nourished and produced specific hormones to benefit the baby inside the womb (earth & water) are turned off or redirected.
She has emptied out of her a baby and placenta (earth), amniotic fluid (water), and blood, sweat, energy (fire).
It takes months for the hormones to balance to produce life-sustaining milk and heal from making and birthing a human. You may hear newborn mothers express themselves by saying they feel ‘spacey’ or ‘all dried up.’ What they are saying is their body is full of air and space. Consuming earth, water, and fire qualities will help bring the five elements into better balance.
Be mindful: fire is necessary to aid in digestion; however, too much fire will boil water; leading to excess of air and space. (Exactly what is trying to be balanced.)
It makes complete sense food and drink ought to be a priority in the care of mom. When mothers are not provided with nourishing foods her physical, mental, and hormonal recovery will take longer. Who wants that?!
This is where everyone involved in mother’s life can support her effectively.
Food is medicine. Food can also be poison.
Feeding her homemade foods, made with love and nourishing ingredients to this phase of life will benefit her - and baby tenfold.
BUT - give momma what she wants. Let her carb up after giving birth. She is wise. Her body is wise. Giving birth and breastfeeding require a ton of energy. Listen to her cravings.
Baby digests and receives whatever mom ingests. Conscious feeding is a must for this temporary phase in life. It is a delicate time requiring much attentive care for mom and baby.
After the initial 42 days are over, then mom may begin to feel the desire to explore a wider variety of foods and drinks with a greater sense of awareness to notice how they make her feel - and how they make baby feel.
Below are recommendations for postpartum sattvic foods. Foods that nourish the body and mind. They are often found in nature and are fresh. (Not treated with chemicals or genetically modified.)
Key qualities for postpartum foods
- Think midwestern fall cravings (cooked root vegetables, soups, stews, warm drinks, etc.)
- Soft, soupy, stews, warm (not spicy), moist, creamy, oily, and fairly mild.
- Enjoyable with the use of only one hand (caregiver can pre-cut when necessary.)
- Avoid: cold drinks and cold or dry food as much as possible.
Nourishing whole foods
Bone broth (chicken or beef)
Cacao (pure chocolate to sip like tea)
Chicken (white and dark meat)
Figs (soaked in water for a couple hours to rehydrate)
Medjool Dates (with almond butter is sweet treat)
Mushrooms (fresh Shittake)
Yogurt (full fat)
Pure water (alkaline or spring, etc.) arm’s length away 24/7.
Teas: fennel, nettle, dandelion, cumin & fenugreek, Mother’s Milk, chamomile, ginger, etc.
Smoothies if digested well… maybe try, at earliest, after the first two weeks postpartum.
Vitamins/minerals for supplementation, if deemed necessary
Vitamin D3 with K2, liquid dropper
DHA, choline, iodine, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B1
This is not an exhaustive list of nourishing foods postpartum, but one to create manageable meal-plans, snacks on-hand, and prioritize foods which heal and support the mammary glands in milk production.
If not already done so - consider hiring an Ayurvedic Physician or Practitioner, functional medicine doctor, naturopath, homeopath, and/or Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner for professional support navigating a healthy, functional body and mind.
Implementing new strategies, like Ayurveda can feel like a major shift at an overwhelming time in life such as recovery postpartum.
You are welcome to book a consultation with me for further support. I have specific training in prenatal and postnatal Ayurvedic practices and I live this lifestyle as best as I can, and am under care of an Ayurvedic Physician for myself, and family, too.
Yoga Mama Yoga Baby: Ayurveda and Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth by Margo Shapiro Bachman
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou
The Fourth Trimester: a postpartum guide to healing your body, balancing your emotions & restoring your vitality by Kimberly Ann Johnson