I have a friend who is a dietician, and she gets so annoyed with people who say they are on a diet or they never diet... A diet is just what you eat. I hope you love your diet and it works for you!
New mums too often receive a barrage of advice about what they shouldn't be eating. No dairy, wheat, soy, corn, citrus, eggs... Many mothers are so desperate for their baby to sleep more and cry less that they give it a good go. But deprivation diets can cause mums to lose too much weight which can affect breastfeeding, and can also reduce mums oxytocin due to the stress of getting the diet 'right'.
An Ayurvedic diet involves eating whatever makes you and your baby comfortable.
Many mothers have very weak digestion after giving birth. Gas, bloating, low appetite and constipation are all too common. This diet is kind of like weaning a baby. Start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually get back to your regular diet.
The emphasis in Ayurveda is on healing and balancing your body after such enormous changes. The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Think soups, stew and puddings, good fats, good sugars and lots of moisture and warmth. Keep meals simple and regular.
There are three key foods to eat every day. Ghee is excellent for nourishing and rehydrating your body and producing breast milk, it also helps prevent that strung out, wired feeling. Coconut sugar, palm sugar or jaggary is excellent for blood building, high in iron and very strengthening. Garlic is warming and excellent for digestion and will help your baby digest your milk, but is best eaten well cooked, and not in capsules.
Consider this an approximate guideline, not rigid rules. The first and only rule is to enjoy what you are eating, if you ever feel deprived then you are on the wrong diet for you.
First ten days
Very runny, soupy, simple food, natural sweets are best, not too much salt at this stage
- Boiled milk with coconut sugar and spices
- Rice or semolina pudding or porridge with ground almonds or ground sesame seeds
- Simple vegetable soups with herbs, spices and ghee
- Soaked dried fruit, stewed fruit
- Crushed garlic well cooked in ghee-every day!
- Cloves, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, coriander
- Pumpkin or zucchini soups and purees
Ten days to three weeks
As above plus thicker soups, stews, purees and dahl
- Well cooked root vegetables like carrot, sweet potato, beetroot or parsnip, mashed with ghee and cumin is delicious (not too much potato because it is dry)
- Risotto, couscous and semolina-well cooked
- Mung, red lentil or urid dahl-soupy and well spiced
- Avocado, nut butters, tahini
- Ricotta, cottage cheese
- Chicken or fish broth
- Coconut milk, nut milk
- Some bread–avoid yeast if you have a tendency towards thrush or candida, chappati, crumpets or mountain bread are best
- Nourishing sweets, whipped cream
- Nuts and seeds
- Baked bananas and apples
- Warm spiced grape juice (like mulled wine without the alcohol)
Three to six weeks
More solid foods and more variety
- Thicker dahls and soups
- Chicken or fish stews
- Pasta (not al dente, it's easier to digest when it's well cooked)
- Shortbread and other buttery biscuits made with dark sugar
- Sprouted unleavened breads (essene bread)
Gradually build up to your normal diet taking notice of how you feel. You can follow this diet for as long as you find it satisfying.
Ysha Oakes and Mira Murphy, Ayurvedic Recipes for after Childbirth, 2007
Reddy, Egenes and Mullins, For a Blissful Baby, 1999
Dr Robert Svoboda, Ayurveda for Women, 1999
For recipes for new mums, including quinoa and veggie soup, garlic confit, kitchari and lactation biscuits, check out my book Nourishing Newborn Mother - Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth. Buy it now or click here for more info.
Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth.