"TCM herbs hold a very special place in my heart. TCM herbs and practices helped me conceive my first child after a long and emotional journey and supported me during all three pregnancies from conception to postpartum.”
What is confinement food?
An important pillar of Chinese confinement, as with any other traditional culture's postpartum care, is nourishment and food for the mother.
Chinese confinement food is specially tailored to aid in a mother's recovery, restore her blood and energy and boost her milk supply.
This is mainly done through the use of specific herbs and ingredients, cooking easily digestible meals and focusing on warming foods.
Food is an integral part of Chinese culture from a community perspective but is also the source of good health and balance. There are businesses around that specialise in confinement food for postpartum mothers.
What are the suggestions around food during confinement?
To avoid placing strain on the digestive system, we opt for meals and beverages served at a warm temperature.
Raw meals like smoothies and sushi are avoided even though it is something new mothers are dying to get back into.
While some strict followers of confinement avoid drinking plain water, it is still important to stay hydrated to help with milk supply and also detox the body. Warm red dates tea is sipped on throughout the day and each meal is accompanied with a bowl of herbal soup. Caffeine and alcohol is avoided.
To make digestion a little easier, small frequent meals are consumed. This could look like 3 main meals with 2 snacks in between. This is especially helpful when breastfeeding to avoid sudden pangs of hunger.
Whilst the Western world might see the postpartum period as a chance to quickly bounce back, TCM views this time as highly important to continue nourishing a new mother with nutrient dense food to aid in recovery and the production of breastmilk.
Whether birthing naturally or via c-section, mothers lose a substantial amount blood when birthing. TCM also views breastmilk as an extension of blood, therefore iron rich foods are encouraged during postpartum including animal offal and dark green leafy vegetables.
There is some misconception around not being allowed to eat fruit and vegetables during confinement but it is more around consuming the right type of fruit and preparing them the right way. All fruit and vegetables have properties (cooling or warming). During postpartum we encourage eating fruit and veg that are more heaty and where appropriate, to prepare them with ginger or sesame oil which are warming. It is important to consume fibre to avoid constipation which can be an issue during pregnancy and postpartum for some.
Consuming confinement food for up to 2 months
Many of us might feel a deep desire to indulge in foods that may have been prohibited during pregnancy like sashimi, soft cheese and alcohol. But if you think about their ease in digestion and whether they will aid in your recovery, you might avoid them for a little longer. A confinement nanny once told me that once I had completed my confinement period, I should continue to eating confinement food by drinking the soups and teas for another month as my body would be best placed to absorb these nutrients during this time. After the two months, I felt nourished, restored and even the texture of my skin had completely changed.
Some of my Personal Favourite Confinement Meals
Discover some of our TCM Offerings to Support you on your Postpartum Journey
CONSULT A TCM PRACTITIONER FOR FURTHER MEDICAL ADVICE. tHIS INFORMATION IS USED SOLEY TO EDUCATE AND INFORM AND IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.
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