Pregnant women seem to be bombarded with information around preparation and care for newborns and left strangely in the dark around postpartum care for themselves. As a nutritionist and mama, I learned this firsthand. Wanting to provide the best start I could for my little one, I dove into all of the information available on newborn care, but it wasn’t until after I had my son that I noticed the surprising lack of focus on helping mamas to nourish, recover, and care for themselves during this time.
I started reading and researching and found that so much of the information available around postpartum nutrition is focused on “bouncing back” or losing “the baby weight” — neither of which should be the primary goal during this time. A mama’s body is recovering from an enormous feat while also providing the sole or primary source of nutrition for their little baby. (I’m not minimizing the merits of body confidence and self love, I’m just saying that there’s a time and place, and it’s not during the first months of motherhood.)
More research around care for a mama’s physical and emotional health and recovery led me to an area I’d not yet explored — Ayurveda. Ayurveda is based on the ancient Indian wisdom that encourages balance between the body, mind, spirit, and environment. The word Ayurveda translates into “the science of life” and puts the well-being of new mothers at the heart of the postpartum phase.
Yes, please! It’s not that our little babes don’t deserve tremendous love, care, and attention. It’s just that we mamas can’t pour from an empty cup. To nourish them, we must nourish ourselves.
I use the word nourish in more ways than one. Our little ones need emotional care and attention, and they also need physical nourishment. And for all of these things, they need us to be healthy ourselves — in body and in mind. And that’s exactly where Ayurveda is aligned.
More research in the world of Ayurveda and postpartum care led me to Freshly Moms. How refreshing to see a company devoted to the health of both mom and baby. Their products combine the wisdom of ayurveda with the knowledge of modern nutrition science to make nutritious and delicious foods that fulfill the unique needs of this important phase of life. They support a healthy body and mind for mama, and healthy lactation, too. They support good milk quantity and quality without compromising otherwise good nutrition. All ingredients are chosen with intention. You won’t find fillers or unnecessary additives. Because when it comes to the postpartum phase, it’s about being nourished, not just fed.
Hungry for more? Let’s take a look at five favorite ingredients and their benefits to your health and lactation as a mama:
For mama’s health, flax is an excellent source of the fiber-related polyphenols called lignans and omega-3 essential fatty acids. The fiber supports satiety, digestion, and regularity, while omega 3s are important for the brain health of both mama and baby. From an ayurvedic perspective, flaxseeds are known as Medhya, a brain booster.
Turmeric root contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Managing inflammation is particularly helpful to new mothers who are healing from the demands of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In addition, turmeric benefits the immunity system and digestion. Interestingly, turmeric can also help stimulate the conversion of ALA to DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in flaxseeds and is critical for baby’s brain development! Although turmeric and golden milk have become common in the mainstream health media recently, Ayurveda has acknowledged the benefits of turmeric for thousands of years, particularly for new moms who are encouraged under Ayurvedic practices to have a glass of milk with turmeric everyday during their first three months postpartum.
The moringa tree is native to India and its leaves and seeds are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants. Its leaves are known to boost prolactin, making it an effective galactagogue, often consumed in dried powder form. According to Ayurveda, the process of childbirth creates space in the mother’s body and upsets her vata energy, resulting in feelings of imbalance. Moringa can restore balance to a mother’s vata and also provides warmth to the body and can improve digestion.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of copper which is important to building strong tissue, required to produce collagen, and necessary for maintenance of blood volume and cellular energy production. They are also a good source of many B vitamins, essential for energy metabolism, and vitamin E, a potent antioxidant with immune benefits. Ayurvedic experts endorse sunflower seeds for their ‘grounding’ properties, believing they can help to alleviate stress, contribute to mental calm, and induce better sleep. What new mother doesn’t need some sleep and calm?!
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps the body to respond to stress. Studies have shown that it may support postpartum anxiety and depression, help stimulate milk production, and help support strength and stamina in new mothers – something we can all agree is very much needed! From an Ayurvedic perspective, it supports milk production through relaxing the mother and helping to manage stress and anxiety within the body.
Ayurvedic wisdom and modern nutrition science agree, food truly is medicine. These foods, herbs, and spices are no exception, and are ideal for postpartum recovery, nourishment, and lactation. Take care of yourself, mama.