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Confinement Food Guide for Natural & C-Section Birth
One of the most common enquiries we’ve ever gotten is about mothers who have gone through C-Section or Cesarean delivery – whether they can eat this or that. More often than not, the ideal confinement food principles that apply to mothers who have gone through natural birth are the same ones recommended to C-Section mothers, i.e. a healthy and balanced meal with adequate fruits, vegetables and whole grains while still applying Traditional Chinese Medicine principles and herbs.
Regardless, we are here to look at all the main dietary concerns for both delivery methods and compare their differences (or similarities). Let’s dive right in!
Protein & Iron
✓ Sufficient protein for muscle reparation
✓ Sufficient protein for muscle reparation✓ More iron-rich foods to promote wound healing and replenish the lost blood
Chicken & Eggs
Generally consumed by postpartum mothers.
Traditionally, some mothers prefer to avoid these during the first 2 weeks of confinement.
Alcohol in Cooking
According to TCM, it provides warm elements suitable for mothers in confinement.
According to TCM, it provides warm elements suitable for mothers in confinement.
Why is watching what you eat important after C-Section?
The mother’s nutrition after giving birth is crucial for her speedy recovery and breastfeeding of the newborn child.
Breast milk is the baby’s principal source of nourishment during the first few months. Thus, the mother must consume a healthy diet.
Good nutrition and rest will also speed up the recovery of the abdominal wall and uterus, which were sliced during the C-section.
A healthy diet may also help the woman lose the weight she gained while pregnant… provided it is adhered to and done right.
A healthy diet is essential for proper digestion and uncomplicated bowel movements that do not strain the abdomen, as well as providing necessary nutrients to the baby and aiding in the mother’s body’s recovery. Proteins, minerals, calcium, fibre, and iron should be included in the diet promptly after caesarean delivery.
Constipation is one of the most prevalent symptoms experienced by women after giving birth. Several reasons include high iron levels in prenatal vitamins, medications used during surgery, dehydration, and weak pelvic muscles after childbirth.
Another reason for constipation in new moms is psychological – fear that their sutures may be damaged or will hurt.
1. Protein & Iron
No matter your delivery method, pregnancy can tire you out and overuse your muscles and joints. Hence, postpartum mothers are generally advised to load their meals up with sufficient protein sources such as pork, meat, fish, chicken, egg, tofu, beans and legumes. They give your body the building blocks to repair muscles and wounds, thus promoting a faster and smoother wound recovery.
Protein is vital for healing and recovery after a Cesarean section. It helps tissue repair, wound healing, and overall strength and energy levels. Consuming adequate amounts of protein is crucial for anyone undergoing this type of surgery.
Protein is found throughout the body. It is in muscle, bone, skin, and hair. Protein is also in every other part of the body. There are at least 10,000 different proteins that make you who you are and keep you healthy.
Some well-known sources of proteins include the following:
- Lentils, beans, peanuts, soy products, etc.
- Nuts & seeds
- Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Whole Grains
- Quinoa, wild rice, oats, buckwheat, millet, etc.
- Chicken, pork, beef, eggs, lamb, etc.
- Low mercury-containing fish
- Salmon, cod, Atlantic mackerel, seabass, snapper
As for C-Section, there is likely a higher risk of blood loss and more wounds. To hasten the recovery progress, you should have more iron-rich foods to promote wound healing and replenish lost blood. Iron helps the body maintain haemoglobin levels and aids in the recovery of blood lost during the delivery process. Egg yolk, red meat, oysters, cow liver and leafy greens are all high in iron.
On top of that; you should also have more foods that are rich in vitamin C as they work to increase your absorption of iron to help replenish blood loss after delivery. For this, we’ve got you covered as well! Our meals contain common Vitamin C ingredients such as broccoli, tomato, potato, and spinach. Altogether, these can help to promote collagen formation for wound healing.
2. Fibre-rich foods
Constipation can hinder healing by placing pressure on wounds and incisions, and fibre is an important meal that helps avoid constipation by ensuring smooth bowel movements.
Oats and ragi are abundant in fibre, carbohydrates, calcium, proteins, and iron.
Lentils, green grains, and pulses are high in protein and fibre and can be included in the diet.
3. Chicken & Eggs
One particular request we receive a lot from mothers is to exclude chicken and eggs in their meals for the first two weeks, usually more so from C-Section mothers. Understandably, mothers have been following this rule since the olden days, so it is natural for such practice to continue to be adhered to until now. But what does science say? What can not have chicken or eggs – or both – cost you?
First off, chicken is an essential source of protein. Protein repairs your cells and body tissues, thus escalating your wound healing which is crucial for post-C-Section mothers. As your body recovers and you are focused on breastfeeding, protein can help maintain muscle mass. It also produces antibodies to support the immune system – something you would want to pay attention to, especially in the current time now that we are facing a pandemic.
Eggs, on the other hand, are a great source of Choline which is critical for your baby’s brain health and development, much like folate.
Besides choline, eggs are an excellent source of Vitamin D. A recent local study in Singapore found 40% of pregnant women to be vitamin D deficient despite living in a tropical country where we are under the sun all year round — so what’s more during confinement where mothers are culturally encouraged to stay mostly indoors for a month or so. Plus, we are encouraged to stay home even more due to the pandemic, which certainly does not help either.
So, your best choice is to obtain vitamin D through foods to ensure sufficient vitamin D intake for bone and teeth health and to support a good immune system. More and more studies are discovering the link between Vitamin D deficiency and the risk of Postpartum Depression, so be sure to get enough of it to keep Baby Blues at bay.
If you are breastfeeding, drinking alcohol is generally not recommended as it can be challenging to gauge where you should stop. Besides that, alcohol consumption leaks up to 2% of your blood system into breast milk. The alcohol concentration in maternal blood peaks at about 2 hours after consumption. So if you drink, wait about 3 hours before you breastfeed to ensure the alcohol leak into breast milk is minimal to negligible.
That said, TCM principles encourage using certain alcohol to incorporate heaty properties into a meal, such as using DOM in cooking – which is what we also use in some of our confinement food recipe, e.g. the Stir-Fried Pork and Liver with DOM.
We also have Coq Au Vin, which includes red wine and is cooked for 2-3 hours. Our use of alcohol in cooking is much less than 1 standard drink per serving. Furthermore, the longer you cook, the lesser the alcohol content is in your food. Some of the dishes that do contain alcohol in the menu are cooked for more than 45 minutes, reducing the alcohol content.
For those with dyslexia, no, it’s not the plural of those journals you use to confide your day-to-day thoughts; those are diaries. A common enough mistake to make, but never mind that now.
What is important to note is that protein, calcium, and vitamins B and D are abundant in low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk, yoghurt, and cheese. These minerals are essential for nursing mothers who consume at least 500ml of dairy products daily.
Drinking enough water might help you avoid dehydration and constipation. Fluid consumption benefits post-surgery recovery and helps to quiet bowel movements. Low-fat milk, soy milk, buttermilk, and soup are all high in nutrients. In addition, you should consume 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Calcium-fortified drinks, low-fat yoghurt, soy milk and cow’s milk all help enhance breast milk production, an essential part of your baby’s daily diet. Caffeinated beverages should be avoided since they can infiltrate breast milk and affect your baby’s sleep. Should you still need your daily coffee, try not to have more than one cup of coffee a day.
While not all mothers will feel the urge to start breastfeeding, those who do will benefit somewhat from the consumption of galactagogues (otherwise known as a food used to induce, maintain, and increase breast milk production).
A quick Google search will give you all kinds of knick-knacks that are sworn to have that effect from various cultures throughout time immemorial. While that can lead to confusion and a lot of head-scratching, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to whittle down that list for you. That same short, effective list can be found in our menu and recipes.
There’s Fenugreek, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Papaya, and all the good stuff! Oh, and that garlic, it’s said to impart a delectable flavour to your breast milk which helps your infant’s foray into the gastronomic and culinary delights that are FOOD. Yes, we know, it’s awesome like that and can assist nursing moms. So, win-win.
As a confinement food delivery service, our goal at Tian Wei Signature is to provide the ideal daily confinement meals that can promote your birth recovery, boost lactation, and, most importantly, are not boring or repetitive. With over 90 variations of meat and vegetable dishes, you’ll have an array of exciting options to look forward to every day! Make sure to check out our confinement food menu to see what you’ll be served throughout your confinement!