Dietitian Shares: Confinement Diet Vs Normal Diet

Dietitian Shares Confinement Diet Vs Normal Diet

In the eastern side of the world, after giving birth, mummies usually do the month which is also known as  “zuo ye zi”. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a mother’s body after labour would have 4 main characteristics that needs to be resolved which are blood deficiency, blood stagnation, qi deficiency and qi stagnation. From what she eats, watch, listen, move and bathes are all planned out for her so that she recovers from 4 of these issues well and be considered back to good health. 

As for the western side of the world, much of the emphasis is on the baby rather than the mother. Many of the things recommended for mothers to do and pay special attention to is how to breastfeed, how soon to breastfeed and many more! Less emphasis is given to what a mother should eat to recover or even support breastfeeding. Many times, they are merely recommended to eat a healthy diet as how they usual eat before pregnancy. They are left with little to no guidance on how they should eat to recover. Isn’t it such an irony? You have to feed the mother so that she can be well to take care of her baby! Nevertheless, both sides of the coin do have good intentions and concerns. Thus, taking strengths from both perspectives and putting it into how a confinement diet should be for mummies to recover well after childbirth should be the way to go! So here are some key things about how confinement diet should differ from your normal diet.

Higher in protein due to recovery needs 

Due to wound and tear at the perineum, a higher protein diet is needed to promote a smooth and speedy recovery. This is even more true for those with caesarean section.  Foods like fish, chicken and pork provides good quality protein for the body to use to promote wound recovery. Some of the food for confinement mother on Tian Wei Signature’s menu that provide would be from our mains such as

  • Coq Au Vin
  • Braised Pork Trotter with Black Vinegar
  • Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Cauliflower
  • Sesame Braised Chicken and Dong Po Braised Pork

Higher in iron rich foods due to blood loss from childbirth

Did you know that you lose about 500ml of blood from giving birth vaginally and about 1000ml of blood from giving birth through cesarean section? Due to some blood loss from childbirth, we should be supporting our body by having iron rich foods. Iron rich foods help to provide sufficient iron for the body to produce new red blood cells. It’s no wonder in Traditional Confinement practices in the East, foods like animal liver and kidney are emphasized. However, it’s important to not overdo it as foods like animal liver are also very high in Vitamin A which may cause Vitamin A toxicity. It is recommended to only take about 1 to 2 servings a week . Some of the dishes that are served in Tian Wei Signature menu are:

  • Ee-fu Noodles with Pork liver
  • Dry Bak Kut Teh with Liver
  • Braised White Vermicelli with Pork Liver

Rich foods

Foods rich in Omega 3- DHA for the brain

There are two main types of Omega 3 which are Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). Omega 3-DHA can only be found in marine sources, typically fish and seafood!. Fish that are high in Omega 3-DHA and low in mercury are particularly important for mummies.  This is because mercury is known to affect cognitive function and brain development in babies and can leak into breast milk. Thus, low mercury fish are encouraged instead like salmon, cod and sea bass. Omega 3-DHA is known to help support brain development in babies and also help to reduce risk of baby blues and postpartum depression in mummies. General recommendations are to have fish that are low in mercury for at least 2 to 3 times a week to obtain sufficient Omega 3-DHA. Some of our favourite dishes on Tian Wei Signature menu are:

  • HK Lime Steamed Salmon
  • Seared Salmon with Cauliflower Cream
  • Black Sesame Pan Seared Salmon

Higher fluid intake due to breastfeeding needs

As mummies are breastfeeding up to 8 times a day even after fluid loss from childbirth, it’s only logical that fluid requirements for mummies would increase. Fortunately,herbal soups and confinement red date tea are highly recommended in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yes it is mainly for it’s warming effect, but this is good practice as it would help to keep mothers hydrated throughout this time too. Some mothers may say red date tea for breastfeeding and no drinking of water especially if they are particular about Traditional practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of only having warming fluids during confinement. However, it’s important to be aware of sugar intakes and try to choose less sugar or without sugar as much as possible. If you’re not too restrictive and open to having warm plain water,  plain water is also  a great choice as you can prevent excessive intake of sugar which normally comes in sweet drinks.  Keeping your hydration in check with herbal broth is a great way to keep your hydration status in check!  It’s definitely a bonus when herbal soups like these contain lactogenic ingredients like ginger, fenugreek or fennel that may help to improve breast milk supply! Some of our customer’s favourites are:

  • Fenugreek Green Papaya Milky Fish Soup
  • Gingko Lotus Seed Pig Stomach Soup
  • Eight Treasure Pork Ribs Soup

  • Eunice Tan In-house Dietitian

    Eunice Tan graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Dietetics with Nutrition from International Medical University. She is a certified Prenatal Dietitian, Accredited by Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association and also the in-house dietitian for Tian Wei Signature and ReLacto. With her expertise and interest in nutrition for women and diet planning, Eunice helps to support mothers get the key nutrients they need for recovery and lactation.