What to eat during confinement?
Confinement diet is an essential part of your body’s path to recovery. Eating the right foods and maintaining the right diet can ensure that your body is properly replenished. During confinement, mothers are encouraged to consume more “heaty” or warm foods so as to allow the womb to recover faster and expel wind from the body.
During confinement, try to consume a variety of foods. Choose foods with a lot of fiber, drink plenty of fluid and try to include a few healthy snacks in between main meals as you will need the extra energy for breastfeeding.
Confinement meals are all about replenishing the nutrients in your body. Some believe that because a woman loses a lot of blood and “Qi” during childbirth, she should replenish her body with ample herbs and supplements during confinement. However, every mother’s health condition is different and you should always consult your TCM physician first before starting on any kind of supplements during confinement. Different health conditions may require different types of herbs for replenishing, while some may not require herbs or supplements at all.
One of the best foods to eat during confinement is oats. Oats are high in protein, fibre, and vitamins. It is essential for your body to have adequate fibre during confinement to avoid constipation. Oats are also a great energy booster for breastfeeding mothers when you need the extra boost of energy. There have been claims stating that oats can help to boost breast milk, but it is however not proven scientifically.
During childbirth, the pores of your body are opened and your body goes into a “cold” state after losing much blood and “Qi”. Mothers are always encouraged to eat “warming” foods, or food that can keep their bodies warm. Adding black pepper to your dishes may serve as a warming supplement and help to maintain your body’s heat.
Green leafy vegetables are a great source of iron, fibre, Vitamin A and C. Therefore you must not forget your vegetables. Spinach is known as a superfood when it comes to replenishing blood. The quicker your blood is replenished, the faster you recover.
Pork liver is an excellent source of iron and Vitamin A. Many women consume pork liver cooked in soup after their menstruation to replenish their blood. Similarly, during childbirth, a lot of blood is lost and must be replenished with nutritious food. The taste of pork liver may not be appealing to everyone and must perhaps be acquired over a period of time. If you are able to accept the taste and texture of it, then consuming pork liver will help in replenishing your blood. You must take note, however, that pork innards like the intestines, kidneys and liver must be consumed in moderation as these may cause uric acid and high cholesterol.
Chinese rice wine, made from fermented glutinous rice, is also consumed during confinement as a warming supplement to expel wind from the body and to maintain the body’s heat. Chinese rice wine has a lower alcohol content compared to other types of wine and is usually used to promote blood circulation. In order for the alcohol to evaporate, add the wine during the last few minutes of your cooking so that the alcohol can evaporate. It is also safe for breastfeeding mothers because the alcohol content is much lower than other wines.
When you are breastfeeding, you will realise that your body loses its calcium much faster and it must be replenished in order to maintain healthy teeth and bones. Make sure that you consume enough dairy products for your calcium needs. Products like milk, cheese and yogurt are all safe for consumption if you are breastfeeding. It is recommended that you consume at least 2 servings of dairy products a day in order to replenish your body’s calcium.
Some people advise against consuming red meat during confinement. However red meat is a high source of protein and iron, and can be consumed in moderation during confinement to replenish blood loss. About 19mg of iron is needed daily to replenish your body and the body tends to absorb iron and protein from red meat better compared to legumes and spinach.
As we all know, pregnancy and childbirth causes a huge drain in all the nutrients in our body. Therefore it is vital to replenish the loss blood and nutrients during confinement in order to nurse our bodies back to health. Always ensure that you maintain a balanced diet completed with the right nutrients needed by your body. If you are unsure of what nutrients to consume, always consult your medical practitioner or TCM first to understand better. It is also important to remember that every mother’s health requirements are different and should not be generalised. As it has been said over the years, what you eat during your confinement period will determine your health in future.