It is surely not surprising that pregnancy depletes us of our reserves and that the demands of the postnatal period are equally important to recognise and fulfil.
And unlike traditional postnatal practices, which have provided for women for many generations, the modern setting with its social pressures and high standards of workplace productivity are not serving women’s health. There need to be a shift in our way of appreciating the postnatal period and celebrate the infinite time it takes for a new mother to get her stores back and build her energy for her many years ahead.
Jenny Allison, in her book 'Golden Month', breaks the postnatal recovery period (which is however long it takes you to repair and replete!) into four important requirements.
So thoughtfully outlined from her extensive research and experience with traditional and cultural approaches to postnatal diets, in particular Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is how they are defined and I have added in some notes to further explain how they can be practically understood...
Four main requirements from the diet after delivery:
- Replace lost blood and nutrients. The placenta has an incredible ability to extract everything the baby needs from the mother and the physical act of growing a baby inside requires a huge amount of resources. If you don’t have enough to go around, the mother will undeniably go without.
- Repair damaged tissue (heal the vagina and uterus) and rebuild hormones. This is where gelatine rich foods like broths comes in handy as well as an increased need for protein in the diet and healthy fats for hormone production.
- Support breastfeeding (and sleep deprivation). Breastfeeding is the next process by which strain is put on a mother’s resources and add in sleep deprivation, this make a carefully planned energy focused diet imperative to a healthy postnatal recovery.
- Provide warmth for the body. One of the concepts around warm foods is that the body has to work a lot harder when breaking down cold and raw foods, thereby taking away vital energy which could be better used in other important functions. If food is slow cooked and warm, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to break it down and to absorb what it needs.
Allison, J., (2015). Golden Month. Auckland, New Zealand: Beatnik Publishing.