It's important to supplement your diet with tonifying foods in the weeks following childbirth. Furthermore, if you have decided to breastfeed, you should keep in mind that what you ingest will often make its way to your breast milk, and therefore, to your baby. Following are some guidelines to help make food choices easier in this new life.
What to Eat:
Yams/Sweet Potatoes: Yams are a popular tonic in Chinese Medicine. They not only build qi, but also nourish yin fluids in the body. Women lose so much qi during labor, its important to find appropriate supplements following childbirth, and this one is readily available. Interestingly, in the Chinese Medicine Pharmacopia, the root of the yam is a widely used qi tonic and has been clinically proven to aid in infantile diarrhoea and infantile indigestion. Add these potatoes to your diet you and your baby will benefit!
Other foods that tonify the qi & blood and nourish the body following childbirth include:
Oats, Eggs, Rice, Beets, Dark Leafy Greens, Avocado, Apricots and warming herbs such as Basil, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger.
In general, it's important to keep in mind that warm, cooked foods are best during the postnatal period - avoid cold, raw foods if possible.
What to Avoid:
Caffeine: Caffeine crosses into breast milk, and should therefore be avoided by breastfeeding mothers. Caffeine is in many food products including: Coffee, Black Tea, Chocolate, Cocoa, Soft Drinks, Over the Counter Medication (check the label)
If you choose to drink decaffeinated coffee, consider choosing coffee that has been decaffeinated via the Swiss Water Process (or Mountain Water Process) as opposed to that which has been chemically decaffeinated.
Dairy and Sugar: This is especially important if you find your baby often gets a runny nose or has a lot of mucous, but seems otherwise healthy. Both dairy and sugar cause excess damp to accumulate in the body, even more so if the two are combined. Excessive mucous in a baby can interrupt sleep, cause uncomfortable or difficult breathing, and interfere with proper digestion.