Postpartum Nourishment : An Ayurvedic Approach
TIP : Postpartum Nourishment : An Ayurvedic Approach
by Lindsey Weinstein
So you’ve just given birth! Congratulations on completing one of the most physically intense acts of your life! It seems natural that you’d need to eat and replenish after so much work! Plus if you’ve chosen to breastfeed, then you’re needing even more fuel to make milk to nourish and continue to grow your baby from your body. Truth be told, your body will produce beautiful milk no matter what you eat, but will pull from all your stores to do it!
So often we reach for a favorite comfort food or a food that was deemed “off limits” in pregnancy right after giving birth, assuming we are not pregnant anymore (true) and therefore back to our pre pregnancy state (false). Sadly this isn’t how our postpartum digestive system works. Digestion after birth is extra slow and in Ayurveda it’s said that a new Mother/Birth Giver’s digestion should be considered as tender as their newborn baby’s.
So what does that mean?? It means that your food intake during the immediate days and weeks after giving birth can be specific and in support of healing and replenishment. Without knowing it, some foods we normally eat (and thrive from eating!) do the opposite and leave us feeling bloated, gassy, constipated, crampy, tired, cold/chilled, foggy-headed and just generally struggling in the digestion department after giving birth.
According to Ayurveda, what exists outside of us also exists inside of us. We are composed of the same elements and those make up our constitution or in Ayurveda what is called our Dosha. Our Dosha changes and ebbs and flows (as we do) throughout our life. During the postpartum time we are looking to pacify the Vata Dosha (Ether/Air) quality in the system.
Ether-Air: Vata (postpartum time)
-The Vata Dosha is Air/Space which can be described as: dry, light, cold, rough
Food Examples of that: crackers, toast, chips, cold cereal, cold drinks, raw salads, raw cold/frozen smoothies etc).
-To pacify Vata, we look to the opposite of Vata: wet, dense, warming both in temp and in spice, smooth.
Food Examples: stews, soups, teas, porridges, healthy fats/oils, fresh nut/seed milks
Warming Spice Examples: cinnamon, black pepper, ginger
Remember these adjustments are subtle and aren’t forever! A good way to think of food during the first weeks post birth: easy in, easy out!
First Days Rice Pudding
16 Cups Filtered Water
1 Cup of Basmati Rice
1/2 cup dark, iron-rich sugar (succinct, rapadura, dark jaggery or coconut sugar)
2-3 TBSP Ghee
2 tsp ginger powder
2/3 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp clove powder
1/2 black pepper
1/3 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Bring water to boil in a large heavy pot. Rinse rice until it runs clear. Add rice and 1/2 of the ghee to boil water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer without lid. Stir occasionally – let simmer down – for several hours. Turn heat up if labor is moving fast! When consistency is gelatinous, add in all of the above ingredients with the rest of the ghee. Serve hot! Add more ghee, sweetener as preferred. Keep on the stove for more servings throughout the day/night.
*Vegan substitute Coconut or Sesame oil for Ghee
*recipe from Sarita Shresha
About Lindsey : I was born into a family where birth was celebrated, honored, normalized and as kids we were invited into birth spaces by our elders. This I believe initiated my love and trust of birth, of birth givers and their babies, too. Eventually I had my own babies and experienced for myself how potent this time is and how it transformed me to my core. How it has influenced who I am, my health and my spirit in all ways, on all levels. It very much felt like an initiation for me and I want that for all birth givers, everywhere.
Lindsey Weinstein is a Mama of two, Founder of BellyFull Birth and provides in-home Ayurvedic Postpartum Care to families in the San Francisco Bay Area.