Normally you'll be asked to eat only ' heaty' food and avoid cold or cooling food as your body is cold after childbirth.
Traditional Chinese confinement food consists mainly of old ginger, rice wine, sesame oil, black vinegar, some warming alcohol, lots of meat especially kampong chicken and lean pork, white fish such as white pomfret and some vegetables.
Food to avoid during the first week only
1. Ginger - Delays healing of wounds and increase risk of jaundice in baby. Substitute with peppercorn or garlic.
2. Fish - Causes foul smelling discharge.
Types of food to avoid
‘Cooling food’ for example: banana, cabbage, cucumber, coconut and Chinese cabbage
Contribute to mother’s poor blood circulation and stomach ache in the baby if you are breastfeeding. Salt as a condiment and salty foods in general are to be rejected, too, in the belief that use reduces breast milk production
‘Acidic food’ for example:pineapple, mango, lemon, lime
Contribute to excessive lochia in the mother and diarrhea in the baby.
Too much ‘Heaty food’ for example: chilli, pepper, spices, tonics, spirits and medicines.
Contribute to diarrhea in the baby and maternal headaches
‘Windy food’ for example: jackfruit, tapioca, pumpkin, onions.
Contributes to baby being colicky and may cause indigestion for mother and baby.
Poisonous food such as prawns, shellfish, crab, eel, ginger
Delay healing of the mother’s wound and may cause allergies and eczema in the baby.
These foods may cause stomach upsets and vomiting
Type of food recommended
To improve milk production : Chicken, squid, clams (small varieties), fish (especially carp), millet, mutton, pork, rice wine, sea slug, soybean milk mixed with powdered walnuts, wheat cakes, wheat noodles with egg, green papaya
To provide strength to the mother so she recovers quickly from the exertion of labor: Chicken, frog, Panax ginseng, licorice extract and razor clam
These are the recommended alcohol for consumption during the confinement month because they are ‘yang'. If you are a non-drinker, this sudden consumption may cause alcohol rash, redness in the face and heart palpitations, so do take it easy. Alcohol does go to the baby through breast milk, so if you want a good night's sleep, drink the alcohol after your dinner. The content of alcohol is reduced during cooking therefore you might consider adding it to your food during cooking instead of drinking it neat.
Pulut rice is rich in iron therefore is used to make rice wine for postnatal nursing mothers. The rice is low in fat and free of cholesterol with high dietary fibre to reduce risk of heart attack and diabetes. It is better known as Shaoxing wine.
It is believed that iced or cold drinks may cause severe shock to the system and further weaken the ‘cold' body therefore it is strongly recommended that boiled warm teas are consumed throughout the day as they are supposed to help heat up the womb.
Take Red dates and wolfberry tea drinks. Just take out the seeds from the red dates, boiled the red dates with water and wolfberry, then drink.
Some says if baby boy, boiled the red dates in odd numbers, if baby girl, boiled the red dates in even numbers .
Soup is a nutritious replacement for water. You can use any meat for stock. The meat supplies fat that is essential for extraction of fat soluble nutrients. Drinking soup about 1 hour before breastfeeding may help to increase milk flow. Chinese soups are usually clear and easier to drink compared to creamy western soups and it is less fattening.
Boxthorn fruit or Chinese wolfberry is best known to correct poor eyesight and eye strain. Used in conjunction with other herbs it is effective for improving energy and strength
Chinese angelica root or dong kwai is supposed to nourish the female organs, alleviate menstrual pain and prevent haemorrhage.
Chinese yam (wai san) used in conjunction with meat and other herbs aids digestion, regulate sugar level and control inflammation of the uterus. The dried variety must be soaked for at least 15 minutes before use to remove the powder
Solomon's seal (yok chuk) is used to alleviate many ailments especially those affecting the throat and lungs.
Sesame oil, besides being rich in Vitamin E, Iron & Calcium, helps heal the womb and rid it of "dirty residual blood".
Chestnuts invigorate vital energy. Resolves fatigue depression and irritability. High in phosphorous, selenium and calcium.
Black vinegar is made from glutinous rice and lowers ph of food. It leaches calcium from bones cooked with it, therefore it is used to prepare high calcium food especially for breast feeding mothers and it also relieves a windy abdomen.
Dill has antibacterial and antispasmodic properties. It is a warming herb which aids digestion, gets rid of gas, encourages lactation, freshens the breath and soothes colic. It is the main ingredient in Gripe water.
Almonds and walnuts contain leucine and isoleucine which are amino acids that regulates growth, blood sugar and wound healing.