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Diet Care fore a New Mother Post-Delivery Diet Care fore a New Mother Post-Delivery

Having a baby is a wonderful episode in life. The bundle of joy brings out the best in a lady. But, a new mother needs as much care post-delivery as she will during her pregnancy. Immediately after delivering a new born (normal or c-section) it’s very common for the new mother to face these general discomforts:

Upset bowel and urinary motions. Due to stress of delivery the gastric organs lose their usual motility and it takes a while to come back to normal routine. Constipation/no control over bowels/in ability to pass stools or urine are general complains of average women after they have just delivered. With rest, and healthy diets these symptoms usually disappear within few days. Rarely medical intervention like medication for constipation/stool softener or catheter to remove urine is required but it’s not uncommon for Doctors to suggest one.

Pain and discomfort in stitches. A woman may experience some pain where stitches have been made (either c-section or normal). It is important not to stress the stitches and allow them to heal hence; diet also has to be modified accordingly.

Emotional anxiety and crankiness is very commonly experienced by new mothers due to challenges of taking care of a young infant, hormonal roller-coaster going on in the body, physical discomforts and general anxiety.

It is important that the caretaker and spouse of the new mother be patient and understanding to the sudden mood swings of the new mother and take extra care of her diet. Pain in the breast nipple region due to new born’s feeding, in ability to produce breast milk, heaviness in the breast. These are all common discomforts faced in the initial few days and gradually will disappear within few days. Consult the Doctor/Lactation specialist to understand the appropriate feeding techniques. 

Diet of a new mother needs special attention

The new mother’s diet needs as much attention as when she was carrying the infant. To ease her of the above mentioned discomforts here are a few dietary suggestions which will be also offered during her stay at the Maternity Ward in the Hospital.

To ease the discomfort of hard stools/constipation and to avoid stress on the stitches; it is advised to offer small frequent meals to the mother. The food should be semi-solid and freshly prepared for the initial few days. Easy to digest, less spicy, non-fried, non-oily and soft, home cooked food should be prepared. The taste and preferences of the mother should be kept in mind. Prepare poha, khichdi, upma, custards, kheer, porridges, soft idlis and offer in the first few days. To avoid constipation ensure that fiber is given in the form of grated salads, cooked vegetables, fruits, and soft chapattis, dalia.

It is absolute essential to drink plenty of fluids in the form of water, soups, juices, dals, milk to relieve the ease of passage of urine and bowels. Moreover, good fluid intake will ensure good flow of breast milk. Please note that drinking fluids does not cause water retention in the body and its intake should not be restricted as is a common malpractice in Indian families.

Protein intake should be increased to allow quick healing of the stitches and also ensure good milk flow. Hence, special attention should be given to intake of protein in the diet like milk and milk products, eggs, paneer, cheese, non-veg, dry fruits. Dals also provide protein but can cause gas and discomfort to both mother and infant, hence restrict intake to easy digestible legumes like yellow moong and arhar. Gradually start whole pulses and ensure to add hing/ginger/ajwain while preparing them to avoid colic to the infant in case you are breast feeding.
To increase the production of breast milk, drink lots of fluids, and milk products. ‘Galactagogues’ are foods which are known to increase breast milk production are given in many communities. Ajwain, sauth, till seeds, methi seeds, saunf etc are usually offered to the lactating mother; the role of these have not yet been well-documented but it’s okay to offer these as they provide essential calories and other nutrients required at this time.
Cravings/sudden urge to eat/feeling hungry often are also seen and it is important to watch what the mother is eating. Eating sugary, high fat, junk food will have adverse effect on the health of both mother and infant. Healthy nutritious meals and snacks like fruits, dry fruits, etc should be available all the time.

Certain foods should be avoided -

Here are a few things which should be restricted in the first few weeks:

  • Spicy, strong flavored or pungent tasting food as the flavors may penetrate breast milk and make it repulsive for the baby to drink.
  • Oily, fried, greasy meals as they are difficult to digest and also the extra fat will add to the weight gain of the mother, making it difficult for her to lose ‘baby-fat’ later. Meals should be simple and fresh as cooked for the whole family.
  • Strong flavored vegetables like garlic, cabbage, cauliflower and dals like rajma, channa, lobhia effect flavor of breast milk and also are known to aggravate colic in the young infant, hence these should be restricted for a few weeks.

Some of these foods are important in diet:

  • Plenty of beverages like soups, milk, juices
  • Fresh fruits
  • Milk and milk products
  • Eggs/paneer/chicken/fish
  • Dry fruits
  • Vegetables which are easy to digest and are not strongly flavored
  • Salads; can be grated to make them easy to digest and not strain the stitches by adding to bulk.
  • Breast Milk Producers- Methi seeds, Fennel seeds, Ajwain, til seeds, ginger powder-sauth
 Sample of a diet chart for a new lactating mother post delivery
Early morning
Tea with Pinni ladoo
Vegetable dalia with curds
Banana shake
Missi roti with lauki ki subji and aloo raita
Hot milk with dry fruits
Lentil soup
Vegetable khicdi with curds
Note: this is a generic diet sheet and it is important to consult your dietitian to obtain a customized diet sheet at the time of discharge from the hospital.

Dietary care for the new born

The first diet of the baby should be breast milk for the initial six months of life. The baby should not be given water, honey, and janam-ghutti, top feed as this is not required by the baby’s body and can also cause infection. Honey is a good substitute to sugar but can cause Botulism to infants below one year of age.
Medical experts recommend exclusive breast feeding of the young infant for the first 6 months and weaning should begin only after that.
These suggestions are prepared by nutrition expert Tina Khanna. 

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