Diet and Lifestyle Advise for Post Natal Recovery



There is a long documented history in traditional Chinese medicine of women taking dietary remedies to encourage lactation and to promote their recovery from childbirth. Specific foods are seen to be especially valuable.

 Foods that tonify Qi (energy)

This includes oats, rice, potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, mushroom (button and shitake), yam, date, grape, Kidney beans, tofu, beef, chicken, tuna, egg, jasmine tea and spices such as; basil, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme.

Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build Qi

• Oat porridge with dates

• Roast sweet potatoes, pumpkin and yams with rosemary

• Chicken stir fry with shiitake mushrooms and rice

• Shepherds pie with beef mince, mushrooms, carrots and mashed potato as a topping

• Peanut Satay sauce with chicken or meat on rice

• Potato and egg salad

• Tuna fish pie made with hard boiled eggs and served with mashed potatoes and peas

• Stir fired Tofu, eggplant and mushrooms with sesame seeds on rice

• Home made muesli slice with honey and dates


Foods to build Blood

This includes corn, sweet rice, beetroot, all dark leafy greens, mushroom, apricot, avocado, date, kidney bean, sesame seeds, chicken, mussels, egg and soya milk as well as the obvious iron rich foods such as red meat and spinach.

Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build Blood include

• Rice porridges with Soya milk, apricots and almonds

• Dark leafy green salads with avocado and grated beetroot

• Warm chicken salad with artichoke and grapes

• Chicken mushroom casserole served with rice

• Scrambled Eggs with parsley

• Chicken, avocado and watercress sandwiches

• Mussel Chowder with calamari

• Kidney bean and mushroom lasagne with a spinach salad

• Any red meat dish. (Note the maximum recommended intake of meat in traditional Chinese medicine is 2 –4 oz per serving, 3 –7 times a week).

Cooking methods are also an important consideration, as slowly or lightly cooked foods are seen as more nourishing and kinder to the digestive system. The vital difference between using raw oats in muesli and consuming oats cooked in porridge, or having a lettuce salad instead of stir cooked vegetables. This is the reason why soups (especially chicken), are considered so nourishing in those initial postnatal weeks.

Rest and Recovery Time

The concept of adequate rest to ensure women completely recovered from childbirth is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the idea that it will take women at least a month to fully recover from childbirth, an idea not necessarily widespread in Western society.  Usually partners or relatives will endeavour to be around to help out after the birth for a week (two weeks if the women are really luckily), then, for most women its back to “normal”. While most will certainly cope (and be rewarded by plenty of verbal feedback on how well they are doing), several months later it is often hard to shake off the tiredness and exhaustion.

While 30 days (or even 100 days in some of the Chinese texts) of recovery time may initially sound a little excessive, it is in reality a reasonable time period if it is considered that this is needed to compensate for not only the birth but also the total experience of being pregnant for nine months. This is not a time for absolute bed rest but rather a time where physical rest is taken at every opportunity, exercise is appropriate (not an exhausting attempt to get back into shape), and attention is placed on a diet, as outlined above so that there is an emphasis on building blood and energy

Source The essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Debra Betts © 2010 Website