On Paternal Leave: Food fit for new mommy

My sister just had a baby boy and I was immediately pressed into service (perils of not having a job). And I noticed that her diet after giving birth changed drastically — it was a diet meant to speed her recovery and provide nutrition to her and the baby.

I can’t claim to be an expert on pregnancy and birth related issues but here is what my brother-in-law told me about the food that women eat postnatal. He knows it better and is currently on paternal leave (hence the title of this post).

And mind you… it is different in different parts of India! See, that’s how diverse we are. 🙂

India's Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary's Facebook page.
India’s Olympic bronze medal winner, boxer Mary Kom with her kids. Photo courtesy: Mary’s Facebook page.

North-Eastern region: There are seven states in that region and Olympic bronze-medalist MC Mary Kom belongs to one such state.  This feisty boxer  has three boys (including twins).

She gave birth to her third baby recently and I asked her what was her diet like. She belongs to Manipur, a state which everyone in India knows to be a pork-loving state.

But Mary says she only had “boiled vegetables and food with no chillies, masala and very less oil”. Another friend tells me that in the state of Assam, women are given boiled fish and chicken in tomato or bottlegaud curry.

Southern India: The four states in Southern India — Andhra Pradesh (now divided into two states), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have more or less same type of weather. That predominantly decides what a woman eats, as that same food might not work for you anywhere else in the country.

Fellow blogger Sharanya Mohan Bala recalls what she was kept off when she gave birth to a girl. “I was kept off tamarind, coconut and gassy vegetables like potato, toor dal, cauliflower and cabbage.”

She remembers being given a paste of rice, ghee and six other ingredients, which is called “Ashta Choornam“.

“And then we are all given one paste which looks like Chavanprash, a tsp every morning in empty stomach for immunity, digestion and it helps lactation too. It is simply called ‘Prasava Legiyam‘ “Prasava meaning pregnant and legiyam meaning medicinal paste. It gives good resistance against cold and viral fever. I love it so much that I eat it even now whenever I feel like I’m going to catch a cold or when I suffer of digestion problems.”

Maharashtra/ Madhya Pradesh: A new Mommy is given simple food which has no masala or spices. Sheera or Kheer is a standard dish which is rich in fat and carbohydrates. Garlic is absolutely essential in all dishes.

Sheera/ Halwa
Sheera/ Halwa

Since the woman can’t eat pickle, an easy way to bring some flavour in an otherwise bland meal is to serve raw coconut chutney with garlic and jeera powder. Leafy vegetables in lunch everyday is a must. Dalia is also very popular.

Rajasthan: Ajwain (Carom seeds) is a herb which is supposed to help with digestion and so it is a new mommy’s preferred home-made concoction. It is boiled in water with jeera (Cumin seeds) and the woman is supposed to drink that every time she feels thirsty.

Another way is to mix Ajwain with ghee and sugar to make a thick paste. Gond ka laddoo is given in winters to give the body some warmth.

5 thoughts on “On Paternal Leave: Food fit for new mommy

  1. Very interesting! In the U.S., there is not much information on the diet of a new mother. My daughter was told not to eat garlic or spicy food…but she was not told what sort of recipes to eat in particular. That would have helped.

    1. Hi! Well you know it depends heavily on geography also I think. Cos here, doctors tell new mothers to specifically include garlic in their diets as it helps lactation. I think in India doctors tell mommies what NOT to eat, while mothers and mother-in-laws give you the list of what to eat..hehe.

  2. Hi
    The topic is quite interesting. But, one correction dear.
    Prasavam means delivery/child birth and prasava legiyam is medicine taken after child birth.
    Hope you don’t mind this correction.

    Take care.

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