Q: What do you recommend diet and body care wise for postpartum care?
Agni Aunt, Dr Deepa Apte answers:
Giving birth is a Vata change in the body both for the mother and baby, which results in lightness and dryness. In Ayurveda the aim is to balance Vata Dosha or lightness/dryness while nourishing the body to enhance breast milk production. Ayurveda believes that whatever the mother eats, the baby will in turn consume the same via breast milk. Therefore it is quite essential to focus on what kind of food (activities) are followed during the postpartum phase.
Avoid nightshades, i.e. potatoes, aubergines, peppers, along with foods like cauliflower, cabbage, chickpeas, aloe vera and papaya for at least the first two months. These foods create gases and may lead to bloating, flatulence and constipation in the mother and will in turn cause colic in newborn babies. Consume 1-2 teaspoons of warm ghee (clarified butter) on an empty stomach. This food is high in protein, will help stimulate breast milk production and will also support the connective tissue healing in the mother.
Plenty of watery nourishing foods, fruits and vegetables, is the way forward. Examples are sweet bananas, sweet grapes, sweet apples, sweet oranges, cucumbers, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables like spinach, sweet potatoes, and courgettes. The body needs all the support to help the postpartum phase of breast milk production by avoiding dryness and constipation, which will in turn help to heal the tissues and promote good sleep.
Regular massages for baby and mother during the postpartum phase with cold-pressed sesame seed oil that is heated up is essential. Sesame seed oil has natural vitamin C that helps strengthen the immune system and the tissues. Tummy massage with the same oil is especially helpful for the mother, as it helps to support the abdominal organs including the uterus to retract back to normal size and function.
A combination of hot milk, ghee and turmeric every evening around bedtime will help correct and prevent any sluggish bowel movements both in mother and baby.