health-pulse-confinement-food health-pulse-confinement-food
Preventive Care
Women's Health

What to Eat for Postpartum Nutrition (Confinement Food)?

08 April 2024 · 7 mins read


Confinement food can aid in postpartum recovery. Read for more information on what to eat and what foods to avoid after childbirth.

The period following childbirth, commonly referred to as postpartum or confinement, holds significant importance in a woman's life. Typically lasting 30 to 40 days, although subject to cultural and individual variations, new mothers must prioritise their physical and mental well-being during this time. Nutrition plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful recovery.

This comprehensive guide will explore various aspects of the postpartum period, its significance for mothers, and the role of confinement cuisine in promoting postpartum health.

We also provide valuable insights into the foods that should be included in the postpartum diet to facilitate recovery and highlight those that should be avoided during this time.

What Is the Confinement Period After Pregnancy?

Also known as the postpartum recovery or postpartum period, the confinement period refers to the time after a woman gives birth. The new mother undergoes physical and emotional changes as her body returns to its pre-pregnancy state.

This period typically spans the first 6 weeks after childbirth, but the duration can vary from person to person. During this time, women often focus on healing, bonding with their newborns, and adjusting to the demands of motherhood. The confinement period begins immediately after the baby is delivered and ends when the mother's body has nearly returned to its pre-pregnancy state.

Why Is the Confinement Period Important?

The confinement period holds immense importance for both the mother and newborn. Let's delve deeper into the key reasons why this phase is vital:

  1. Promotes health and recovery

    Childbirth is physically taxing and places significant demands on a woman's body. Various physiological changes and stresses occur during labour and delivery. The confinement phase allows mothers to relax and recover, enabling their bodies to heal from childbirth's physical and emotional trauma.

    Sufficient rest is essential during this period, particularly when post-birth tears or cuts need tissue healing. It also provides a valuable break from the ongoing baby care responsibilities, which can be mentally and emotionally draining.

  2. Helps prevent postpartum complications

    Proper postpartum care during the confinement period helps prevent potential complications. Common postpartum health issues include infections, postpartum haemorrhage, anaemia, and postpartum depression. The risk of these issues is lowered by eating a nutritious, well-balanced confinement diet and getting enough rest.

  3. Helps bond mother and child

    The confinement period offers an invaluable opportunity for mothers to bond with their newborns. Mothers may focus on caring and nursing without the distractions and responsibilities of everyday life during this period.

    This caring and bonding are necessary for the baby's emotional well-being and contribute to the mother's sense of fulfilment and connection.

What Is Confinement Food?

Confinement foods fulfil the nutritional demands of mothers during the postpartum period. This diet provides the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for postpartum recovery, healing, and overall well-being.

Why Is a Healthy Diet Important After Delivery?

A healthy diet after delivery is essential for several crucial reasons:

  • Nutrient replenishment - Childbirth places considerable demands on the body, depleting it of essential nutrients. A balanced diet during confinement helps replenish these nutrients, aiding
  • Breastfeeding - Mothers who choose to breastfeed need to have a healthy diet. Breast milk is the primary nourishment for the newborn, and the mother's dietary choices directly impact the quantity and quality of breast milk she produces. During this time, prioritising a sufficient milk supply and providing essential nutrients to the baby is
  • Hormonal balance - Hormonal fluctuations after childbirth can lead to emotional and physical challenges. Certain confinement food can help regulate these hormones, easing the transition into motherhood and postpartum

What Foods to Eat During Confinement?

Consuming a healthy, balanced diet promotes recovery and overall well-being during confinement. Here are some foods that should be incorporated into the postpartum diet, along with their benefits:

1. Ginger

Ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. It improves digestion and helps with nausea, a frequent postpartum complaint. Additionally, ginger helps lessen muscular discomfort and soreness that might occur after labour.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound. It supports the healing process by reducing inflammation, benefiting mothers who may have experienced tearing or surgical incisions during delivery.

3. Oats

Oats are high in fibre, which supports healthy digestion. They provide sustained energy, helping mothers cope with the demands of caring for a newborn and promoting overall recovery.

4. Green vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are packed with multiple vitamins and minerals essential for recovery. These vegetables also provide fibre, which aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation—a common postpartum issue.

5. Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are essential for lowering inflammation, promoting brain development in breastfeeding infants, and promoting general healing.

6. Lean meats

High-quality protein is found in lean meats such as chicken and lean cuts of beef. Protein is required for muscle repair and rehabilitation. It also promotes the synthesis of antibodies and enzymes needed for a healthy immune system.

7. Almonds

Almonds are rich in protein and healthy fats. They provide a source of sustained energy, particularly beneficial for mothers experiencing sleep deprivation during the early postpartum period. Additionally, almonds are known to aid in milk production for breastfeeding mothers.

8. Black pepper

Black pepper contains piperine, a compound that enhances nutrient absorption. Including black pepper in the diet can help the body absorb other essential nutrients better.

9. Brown rice

Brown rice is a good source of complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates provide sustained energy, helping mothers maintain their energy levels throughout the day.

10. Legumes

Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans are high in protein and fibre. This combination supports digestive health and provides essential nutrients for recovery.

11. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, aiding cell repair and boosting the immune system. They are a flavourful and nutritious addition to the postpartum diet.

12. Drink plenty of water

Staying well-hydrated is essential during the confinement period. Water is necessary for various bodily functions, including milk production for breastfeeding mothers. It also helps flush toxins from the body and supports overall health.

Also read: What should pregnant mothers eat?

What Foods to Avoid During Confinement?

While some foods are advantageous during confinement, others should be avoided as they may cause discomfort or hamper recovery. Some foods to avoid during this period, along with the reasons, are as follows:

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant known to disrupt sleep patterns. Adequate rest is crucial during confinement, and excessive caffeine intake can hinder the ability to get restorative sleep. In addition, too much of it can lead to dehydration, which is undesirable during this phase.

2. Seafood high in mercury

While fish remains a valuable protein source with vital nutrients for breastfeeding women, it is essential to be cautious when determining the quantity and varieties of seafood to include in your diet. Some forms of seafood, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, contain mercury. Mercury can harm the newborn brain and nervous system development during breastfeeding.

3. Spicy food

Spicy meals can irritate the digestive system, resulting in discomfort or digestive difficulties. This can be incredibly unpleasant during the postpartum period when the body has undergone significant changes.

4. Full-fat dairy products

High-fat dairy products can be challenging to digest, and some individuals may experience discomfort or gastrointestinal issues after consuming them. Opting for lower-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives may be a better choice during this time.

5. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are acidic and can cause gastric discomfort or acid reflux in some individuals. Avoiding these fruits can help prevent digestive discomfort.

6. Cold and raw food

Cold and raw foods can be harder to digest, potentially leading to gastrointestinal issues. In addition, studies show that eating raw and undercooked meat can make you sick. This is because meat, including lamb, goat, beef, and pork, contain germs such as E.coli, Salmonella, and Yersinia. It is, therefore, advisable to consume warm and cooked food during the confinement period.

7. Fried, oily, and salty food

Fried, oily, and salty foods can contribute to inflammation and high blood pressure, which can delay healing.

8. Processed food

Processed foods often contain additives, preservatives, and high sodium levels, which are best avoided postpartum. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods is a healthier choice.

9. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption should be strictly avoided during the confinement period. Alcohol can disrupt sleep, impair judgment, and affect overall recovery. It can also have negative implications if the mother is breastfeeding, as alcohol can be transferred to the baby through breast milk.

10. Sugary drinks and food

High sugar intake can lead to energy spikes and crashes, impacting overall well-being. It is vital to prioritise nutritious foods over sugary options during confinement.

Schedule an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

The confinement period after pregnancy is a crucial phase that demands special attention to the well-being of both the mother and the newborn. Nutrition is critical to ensuring a healthy recovery, promoting healing, and supporting breastfeeding mothers.

By understanding the importance of the confinement period, adhering to a well-balanced confinement diet, and being mindful of the foods to avoid, new mothers can navigate this transformative phase with greater ease and ensure a brighter and healthier postpartum experience. It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals and follow cultural practices and recommendations specific to individual circumstances for the most personalised and effective postpartum care and nutrition.

At Pantai Hospitals, we offer comprehensive medical advice and prenatal and postnatal care. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with our team of gynaecologists today or learn more about our Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Pantai Hospital.

Pantai Hospitals have been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

This article has been medically reviewed by Obstetrics & Gynaecology (O&G) specialist, Dr Anjalai A/P Pathmalingam.

Suggested Articles

Click to know more!