Monthly Archives: January 2016

Postpartum Care – Foods for lactating mothers

Published 18th January, 2016

Please also read my post on Traditional Baby Shower )

146 Garlic

Garlic (Lohsoun)

I became a grandmother this January the 10th and I cannot express how elated me and my family are on the birth of our first grandson, a son to my eldest son.  I thought it opportune to write a post on Postpartum care dedicated to the new mother, my daughter-in-law, which I hope will also benefit all new mothers.

Postnatal or postpartum care refers to the confinement period immediately post delivery when physical changes that occurred in the body during the nine months preceding delivery, begin the healing process and getting  back to its original state. As the new mother would be breastfeeding and also due to the loss of blood during delivery, it is necessary that high quality of nutrition must be provided in this period.

Culture plays a major role in postnatal care and beliefs.  Much of the woman’s lifestyle and care during the postpartum period is strongly influenced by her culture. Every society has its own traditional beliefs and practices related to pregnancy and health care. Postpartum maternal health care greatly influences the health of both the mother and child.  Like prenatal care, the postpartum health care that is typically provided during the six-week period after childbirth is very  important to the mothers’ health. Effective postpartum care is essential to maximize the health of the mother and the new-born regardless of where a woman delivers. India, being a land of diverse cultures and traditions, postpartum care and diet varies, based on topography of the region, culture, tradition and religious practices.

Here I will outline some of the manglorean catholic practices.  It is a common belief that the new mother’s internal organs are ‘fresh’ from childbirth and so it is important to consume foods that will provide heat and warmth to the body to accelerate the healing of the internal organs especially the reproductive organs. Nonetheless, it is imperative to have a balanced diet which includes, but not limted to, pure ghee, fenugreek seeds, fenugreek leaves, fennel seeds (saunf), garlic, ginger, carom seeds (ajwain) oats, green vegetables, dried fruits, seeds, etc. The mother must have a bowl of hot soup daily, either vegetable soup or tender fresh chicken soup.  She should eat fish like, Pomfret, lady fishKaane (Lady Fish) Curry, Raouns (Rawas/Indian Salmon), Hamour (Grouper) and avoid Mackerels, Sardines, King fish, shrimps, shell fish, etc. She must also avoid having pulses, starchy and root vegetables and meats like beef, to avoid bloating, indigestion and flatulence as this could adversely affect the nursing baby. Lots of green leafy vegetables and Yam is recommended in addition to carrots and beetroot as they are high in beta carotene  and help boost liver health and are a good source of iron to alleviate post-pregnancy anemia.

Recipes for some of the typical medicinal foods namely, Methi Paez (Fenugreek seed porridge), Garlic & Ginger which are ground to a paste and cooked with jaggery and pure ghee to a jam consistency, Ajwain Paez (Carom seed porridge), Gulianchi Kheer (Rice, jaggery and coconut milk pudding with rice dumplings)  and Nivol (medium thick curry made using coconut, peppercorns, carom seeds and kokum i.e.dried mangosteen/red mango) to be consumed by lactating mothers is given below. These are my Late mother’s recipes from her book Mai’s RecipesMai’s Recipes Contact details.

I remember my mother saying that it is advisable to give the new mother methi paez and nivol on alternate days. Then a tablespoon of the ginger or garlic can be taken daily with breakfast or in between. Ajwain paez can be taken on some days and gulianchi kheer on some days i.e. all these foods are not to be taken everyday but spread over the confinement period so as to gain the maximum benefit from these nourishing ingredients.

The other important lactating and strengthening food is ‘Randho’ which is a mixture of spices and various nuts and ‘Thiklem’ a dry form of Randho which is also a mixture of spices and various nuts, onions etc. deep fried to golden brown with pure ghee.  It is recommended to take a tablespoon at breakfast.  I am on the look out for these two recipes and regret not having noted it from my mother.  If anyone out there does have these recipes, kindly do post and alert me!

Click on the picture for links to the recipe.

Methi Paez

Methi Paez

146 Garlic

Garlic (Lohsoun)

145 Ginger

Ginger (Aale)

144 Ajwain Paez

Ajwain (Vovon) Paez

Gulianchi Kheer (30)

Gulianchi (Rice dumplings) Kheer

141 Nivol[0]


The postpartum practices are many, but I will list those that are important to both the baby’s and mother’s health for the first 40 days i.e. 6 weeks of confinement and commonly practiced by us:-

For Mother:-

  1. The daily oil massage and bath, ideally given by ‘Elderly lady who looks after the new mother’ (balnti posteli) experienced in bath and massage for new born baby and mother.
  2. Postpartum belt (usually an old cotton saree/cloth is used) tied over the tummy and waist of the mother to support the back and get rid of the baby pouch.  As they say it also helps squeeze out the impure blood and other impurities from the uterus which are the remanants from the delivery.
  3. Restricted from using cold water for washing hands, taking bath, toilet use and drinking purpose.  Only warm or hot water is recommended.
  4. Mother is advised to lie down most of the time and preferably with legs crossed to avoid air entering the body.
  5. Drinking kaljira kasai (black cumin decoction)  for first three days after delivery.
  6. Consume special food (home medicine) to increase breast milk and strengthen the bones and muscles during postnatal period.
  7. Refrain from sex for 40 days mainly from a medical perspective as it would allow for the episiotomy wound to be healed and avoid any infections.
  8. It is also said that usually one peg of alcohol (brandy) may be given to mother to prevent her from catching cold and also helps her get good sleep.

In conclusion:  Generally, women and their newborn are secluded from the rest of the household to limit contamination from the polluting powers of ‘after-birth’.  These are widely practiced across India, and form an intrinsic part of women’s daily lives in traditional societies.

For Baby:-

mangalore-at-a-glance-73-638 Massage for baby

  1. Daily Oil massage and bath.
  2. Practice of exposing the baby to the dhoonp (incense) smoke after bath to protect the baby from evil spirit.
  3. Application of Kajal on the baby’s forehead or eyes to ward of evil eye. A small dot may be applied near the hairline if you are not too happy with using kajal.
  4. Use of black thread on wrists/waist/neck to prevent evil eye.
  5. To clean coated tongue by using a cloth/gauze dipped in glycerine.
  6. Advised not to cut baby’s nails with nail-cutter but rather the mother should bite the nails to make them shorter or keep baby’s hands covered in mittens to avoid them scratching themselves.
  7. Practice of feeding the first milk (colostrum).
  8. Utmost care to umbilical cord, to be kept dry using boric powder or clean with antiseptic swabs and to bury the umbilical cord when it dries and falls.
  9. Baby is given sun-bath, usually early morning between 7:30 am and 8:30 am to prevent and cure baby jaundice if detected. During such sun-bath, baby’s eyes are to be protected from direct contact to sun.

Although modern medicine does not necessarily advocate these customs and beliefs, they have been followed by generations and we have not seen or heard of any adverse effects because of these practices but certainly know that they do have their own benefits.

The new mother then should just allow herself to be thoroughly pampered with ample rest, massages, nutritious food etc. that she is showered upon during this period.



%d bloggers like this: