The month of February is here spreading love and cheer all around. I hope most of you all have already planned your date nights, or thought of buying gifts for your loved ones. Well, my date night this year, would include all the three men in my life – my husband and my two sons. Toh, infant-friendly planning abhi baki hai doston!
Anyways, let me focus on today’s topic which, I believe, is a must read for any women who is planning for a child, or is a soon mom-to-be or moms who have just delivered. As a recent mom of 2 month old baby boy, I know how daunting it is to look happy and energetic on the outside while we have sleepless nights, irregular meal times, etc.
Motherhood at the initial phase, how much ever joyful, is physically, mentally and emotionally tiring. At such times, a proper well-balanced nutritious meal is definitely a solace. It becomes extremely important to consume foods that can nourish and nurture your healing body, especially if you are breastfeeding your little one.
While a high protein diet is recommended for healing the body, it is also important to consume foods that are calcium, iron, carbohydrate and fibre rich to strengthen your body, elevate the mood, breastfeed the baby etc.
According to CDC, a breastfeeding mother should consume approximately 2,300 to 2,500 calories per day compared to 1,800 to 2,000 calories for a non-breastfeeding woman.
So, here are the 20 main nutritious foods for moms to eat after child birth. While few of the items mentioned depend upon your household practices / preferences or location specific, many of them are widely recommended around the globe.
Almonds are rich in carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin B12 and E and contain minerals like magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium and zinc. So consuming almonds is essential for us to recover after the childbirth. We can use almonds in many recipes like sheera, halwa or porridges. It can also be added to a glass of warm milk every morning or can be had as an evening snack. I usually consume soaked almonds and poppy seeds with my glass of milk every morning as it is a great stimulant for lactation.
Drumstick & Moringa Leaves
Drumstick and Moringa leaves are highly recommended to mothers during pregnancy and even right after delivery. Since they contain Vitamin A, B, C, and are also rich in iron, calcium and protein, it is a must for a breastfeeding mom. I usually include drumstick sabji or drumstick sambhar every alternate for my lunch. We also get fresh moringa leaves at home and have it mixed in dosa or in soups and sabjis.
Oats are an excellent source of iron, proteins, calcium, fibre and carbohydrates and are one of the most nutritious and easiest to cook food ingredients. It also reduces cholesterol. As oats are high in fibre, they help in improving the digestion and reduce the chances of constipation which is a common problem after childbirth. Oats are also excellent source of lactation and consuming oats as a part of the post delivery diet is highly recommended. Oats porridge made in milk can be garnished with chopped fruits like bananas, apples, berries, etc. or garnished with nuts and dried fruits. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth oats can also be included in making savories like upma, idli, roti, etc.
Ragi or Finger Millets
If you have read my earlier posts on Ragi, you must know by now that this is my favorite super food, which can be consumed in innumerous ways. Filled with all the nutrients like calcium, iron, fibre, protein and much more, this superfood should be consumed by women who are pregnant till after delivery to much later years. Ragi/ Nachni is a very helpful in lactation too. I consume ragi daily either in the form of porridge/ dosa or add it to my morning dose of milk.
Adding a cup of brown rice to lunch increases energy to the mother’s body. Since brown rice is unprocessed and comes under the better quality of rice, it improves the quality of breastmilk and helps in providing right nourishment. Researchers says that brown rice can increase serotonin levels in the brain which helps in releasing Prolactin hormone that is the key hormone in lactation. I usually alternate between brown rice or whole grains for my lunch alongwith protein rich dal, sabjis and salads.
We all know about wholegrains like ragi which has gained worldwide attention. But whole grains like bajra, jowar, wheat, etc. are also rich in nutrients and provide the right nourishment needed for mothers. A whole-grain wheat bread is full of folic acid, iron, and fiber that keeps our body healthy while we are breastfeeding. I am usually given parathas or roti made out of wholegrains, or kanji which includes all dry fruits, legumes and pulses.
Legumes and Pulses
Since I am a vegetarian, I am often told by my friends that I am missing out a great amount of protein in my diet. But including protein rich legumes and pulses daily in our diet ensures that we fulfil the bodily requirement of proteins same as the proteins derived from the non vegetarians. Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, etc. are also rich in Iron which are a great breastfeeding food. They’re pocket-friendly source of high quality and non-animal protein. Pulses or Dals like Moong, Tuvar and Masoor are a staple at almost all the Indian household and are considered as a part of a well-balanced diet. They are rich in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also easy to digest and one can also whip up delicacies out of them.
Bottle Gourd or Lauki is one of the few vegetables that are extremely rich in water content (95%), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, phosporous, calcium, magnesium, folate, iron, sodium, etc. Because of it’s high nutrient content, Bottle Gourd ranks amongst the top in the vegetables. It helps in hydration of the body, helps in excellent milk production and also assists in weight loss of moms post weaning. As a new mom, consuming bottle gourd atleast 4-5 times a week ensures a steady milk supply for the baby. Mom usually makes varieties of sabji made out of lauki, makes lauki halwa or lauki porridge with milk, which not only tastes delicious but also is filled with lots of nutrients.
Green leafy Vegetable
Green Vegetables or Leafy Greens are one of the essential components of a complete meal. The green vegetables provide a significant amount of iron to the body along with Vitamin A and folate. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, fenugreek are excellent sources of iron, Vitamin C, beta carotene and riboflavin. They are filled with antioxidants and consuming them once a day improves lactations. Dill Leaves or Shepu as we call in Maharashtra is also an excellent source of nutrients and ensures a good milk supply for lactating moms.
Sweet Potatoes are packed with Vitamin A that nourishes the mom’s health back to normalcy. It helps in the maintenance of organs like heart, lungs, kidneys and also ensure healthy vision. It is an excellent source to build the immune system. I usually consume sweet potatoes as an evening snack, either by just roasting it or making it into tikkis.
Garlic is one of the superfoods that should be added to the diet list of pregnant ladies and moms alike. Filled with medicinal properties and highly recommended in Ayurveda, garlic is more than just a seasoning agent. It is a natural immunity booster filled with anti-oxidants and helps moms to combat any illness or viral infections. If not during the pregnancy, garlic should be consumed right from the first day after childbirth. Garlic also helps women in lactation and consuming garlic in milk is an excellent way to boost breastmilk.
The Flavourful Five – Ajwain, Methi, Jeera, Til and Saunf
The Flavourful Five are not only just taste enhancers but also essential building blocks in nourishing the mom’s body like before.
Ajwain or Carom seeds, essentially a part of Ayurveda ranks first in our flavourful five charts. With its distinct taste, ajwain is extensively used in parathas, halwa, bhajis, puris and even in laddoos. Ajwain not only soothes pain from indigestion and gas, but also is an excellent lactation booster. Ajwain also helps the contraction of uterus after the delivery, so many moms are given warm ajwain water to drink after meal times. Since ajwain has antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, infants after 6 months of age are given ajwain in small doses along with the food.
Methi or Fenugreek are used as a staple in post-partum diet in multiple ways and are an excellent nutritional supplement. These tiny seeds can be added to sweets like panjiri, laddoos, etc. or can be added to one’s regular meals too. They are enriched with iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals. They are excellent energy boosters and help prevent back and joint pains which are common after delivery. Fenugreek seeds are also excellent lactation boosters which makes it second on the flavourful five chart.
Cumin seeds, known as Jeera are the most commonly used spice in Indian Household. Cumin Seeds contain antioxidants, iron and calcium and they improve the digestive system, strengthen immune system and improve blood circulation. When consumed daily after child birth, they retain the body strength and help in producing good supply of milk.
Til is another common food ingredient found in the Indian kitchen. These tiny seeds found in black and white color contain nutrients like iron, copper, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. Til / Sesame seeds have varied benefits to moms like helping in digestion of food, regulating a healthy bowel movement and replenishing the lost energy in child birth. Moms can add til to their daily diet as an addition to the rotis/chapatis, or as garnish in the sabjis, as a crispy coat to the tikkis, etc. They can also be used in making postpartum laddoos, chikkis, pattis, rewris, etc.
Fennel seeds or saunf is the final ingredient of our flavorful five list. This herb is used in cooking for its sweet and distinct flavor or used as a mouth freshener after meals. They are rich in anti-acidic properties, histidine, iron, potassium and vitamin C. Saunf has healing properties and aids in digestion, help moms recover from anemia, cures intestinal issues or constipation, regulates blood pressure and boosts immunity. Fennel when consumed daily by moms promotes better vision, rejuvenates skin and improves hair quality.
Turmeric and Dry Ginger
Turmeric or haldi needs no introduction to the world. Turmeric aids in healing of internal and external wounds, reduces inflammation and toxicity in the liver and also helps in maintaining the ideal weight. Turmeric contains vitamins B6 and C, fibre, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Post pregnancy, turmeric helps in the healing of uterus and promotes a healthy gut system. Breastfeeding moms should have turmeric milk or should include fresh turmeric root in the diet increasing their immunity and combat cold, cough and other viral infections.
Dry Ginger Powder or Soonth has anti-inflammatory properties and are used widely in North India. An important spice of the Indian household, Soonth contains Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Manganese and Fiber. It is an essential part in the post delivery diet as it also helps in reduction of gas, aiding digestion.
Gondh or Edible Gum
Both my babies are born in winter, so consuming Gondh or Dink has been a must in my post delivery diet. Dink is usually consumed in winters as it is a good source of heat for the body. Dink also promotes lactation, helps prevent back and joint pains and hence is an excellent nutritious item to be consumed by moms after child birth. I usually have one dink laddoo a day for my evening snack, and once you try them, it is impossible to binge eat them.
We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And this is an absolute fact as apples are high in fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium. The anti-anemic properties in apples make them one of the ideal fruits to be consumed by moms after delivery. It easily assimilates, aids digestion and also detoxifies the body. They are also excellent source of carbohydrates and hence a quick energy boosters for moms.
Again thanks to the winter season, a lot of fresh fruits are seen in the Indian Markets. Blueberries are filled with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and munching on these delicious and nutritious berries satisfy the hunger pangs, especially when we are breastfeeding. They provide multiple health benefits to both mom and the babies.
Citrus fruits like oranges offer multiple health benefits from strengthening the immune system to enhancing the milk supply in moms. They are filled with VitaminC that helps in having a good immune system, better the skin quality and ensures strong bones. Consuming oranges are easy while travelling with the babies and provide instant energy and refreshment to mommies. It also helps you absorb more iron from food.
Yogurt, in general helps you have a healthy gut as they are filled with pre-biotic and pro-biotic properties. Yogurt when consumed daily as a part of postpartum diet provides all the necessary nutrients needed for the baby and improves our bone health. Having a bowl of yogurt fulfills about 15%-45% of our daily calcium needs and contributes to our daily potassium intake. It also promotes lactation and aids in the development of babies
Milk, Cheese and Paneer
Milk and milk products like cheese, paneer, buttermilk is protein rich and should be a part of daily diet consumed by moms after child birth. Milk is abundant in calcium, vitamin B, vitamin D and proteins. It helps in strengthening the bones of both mother and child. Consuming buttermilk with jeera powder, Hing and ajwain helps in easy assimilation of foods and helps moms to have a healthy gut. It is recommended to include at least three cups of dairy each day in our diet.
If you are an eggetarian, you are in for a varitey of cuisines made from eggs. Eggs are one of the best sources of proteins, amino acids and varied nutrients. Eat your eggs boiled, sunny side-up, scrambled, or as an omlette they are are excellent breakfast option for moms. Eating eggs boosts the essential fatty acids in our breast milk. Eggs are also digested, highly nutritious and packed with nutrients that aid in recovering from birth.
Unlike me, if you are a non-vegetarian you can consume salmon once or twice a week as they contain DHA which not only improves essential fatty acids in breastmilk but also is an excellent mood elevator that wards off postpartum depression. It is highly recommended for moms as it is a nutritional powerhouse and consuming them aids in the brain development of your babies.
So mommies, now that we all know how important it is to eat the right foods after delivery, let us also ensure that we get adequate sleep and rejuvenate ourselves as and when needed. If you are a new mom or know a new mom, please share this article with them so that they can be nourished with the essential nutrients too. And if you are looking for few tips and tricks to keep yourself happy after motherhood, do not forget to check this article by clicking here.
Eat Healthy, Stay Happy and most importantly ENJOY THIS TIME WITH YOUR BABY!
HAVE A GOOD DAY!