Recharge and heal with Chinese soups
Congratulations mama, you did it and now you have a newborn in your arms. As you enter this new phase, know that you have a fantastic journey ahead.
A woman who has recently had a baby is like a car that has been driven from Mongolia to Hong Kong. That car really needs some maintenance – You wouldn’t expect that car to run well for long if you kept putting gas in the gas tank and neglected the systems that combust that fuel, would you? Common distresses during postpartum are depleted energy, breastfeeding, and emotional fluctuation which can develop into postnatal depletion (lethargy, memory disturbances and bone and hair challenges). You owe it to yourself (and your baby) to care for yourself at least as well as you would care for that car. The 4-6 weeks after delivery of your baby (“Postpartum”) is considered the golden period to nourishing and rejuvenate as a great mom and wife.
Why herbal soups?
The first thing after delivery is about establishing nutritious milk supply in bonding you and your baby and supporting your baby in developing a healthy immune system. Breastfeeding and postpartum recovery is closely related, why? When you breastfeed, oxytocin will be released which increases milk supply. Oxytocin is also an important hormone for uterine retraction which will also prevent haemorrhaging. Besides, breastfeeding burns 300-500 calories per day and consume 2-3 cups more fluids than non-breastfeeding moms. Your baby demands nutrients from the breastmilk regardless of the mother’s body. So now you can see how Repletion and rebuilding of nutrients in an easily assimilated way is critical during postpartum if you want your baby healthy and cherished.
Nutrients rich fluids, soups, in particular, fit this bill perfectly – ingredients slow cooked in water making the nutrients more digestible and quickly absorbed. Nourishing the blood, energy, and your body systems will enable you to keep on a healthy high note in your parenthood. Chinese culture (and many Asian cultures too) have a long history of eating nutrients rich soups during postpartum. Those who went through a rebuilt postpartum feel stronger and younger than pre-pregnancy often!
Choosing ingredients in your soup
Gentle and natural energy boosters will be vital during first two weeks – food ingredients and culinary/ mild herbs are perfect with a focus on breast milk let-down. Some herbs for lactation:
- Fennel seed, which also helps with baby’s colic
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), increases prolactin which in turn boost breast milk supply
- Tong Cao, has slight diuretic effect which can lead to potassium excretion
Other food ingredients that are also helpful in let-down includes peanuts, cashews, lyceum berry, snow fungus, figs and Papaya.
Nourishing Herbs for Lactation
As bleeding stops (usually happen 10-14 days after delivery), you can increase tonic herbs in your soup to support your blood and energy building. Examples include Dang Gui, Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Red Sage – all these herbs nourishes blood and enhances circulation. You can use American Ginseng, Ashwagandha or Siberian ginseng in replenishing energy. Adding a small amount of Chen Pi or Orange peel to your soups also has carminative/qi regulating effect to prevent any stagnation/ congestion. Your sleep during initial weeks tends to be intermittent so getting restful sleep will help with your mental health as well as your breastfeeding – you can use lotus seed, lily bulb, longan berry, orange Daylily, and Reishi mushrooms (Ling Zhi).
Nourishing & Sleep-promoting herbal soup ingredients
As the postpartum journey progresses, you will want to get rid of the extras gained during pregnancy and a large part of it is reducing fluid retention to regain your pre-pregnancy shape. You can use a combination of herbs/ food for reducing fluid retention, improving digestion and boosting circulation for getting back to fitness. Lycium berry (Gou Qi Zi), sprouted red/black beans, Black Fungus, Siberian Ginseng, Hawthorn Berry. Legumes are excellent nourishing ingredients for soup, as sprouting will enable breaking down of nutritive protein in an easily assimilated fashion. The fibre in the soup promotes digestion and healthy bowel movement. You know what it means when you have better bowel movement – flatter belly!
Where to get good ingredients
In soup making during postpartum, the key is choosing the right and quality ingredients so that moms get maximal nutrition without having to worry about any pesticides, hormones, sulfur or heavy metals – What a waste to let toxins through this critical time!
There are some postpartum programs on the market that have pre-packed soup kits. Bonum Trees, in particular, have an organic selection of postpartum program packages (all their ingredients are certified organic by international bodies and all herbs imported from the USA) that will give you the best nutrition. Happy and healthy Postpartum to every Mom!
Peggie Zih, a practicing certified Naturopath and Herbalist at Zenses in Health, specialises in diet and herbalism by combining traditional Chinese, Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She extends her practice into quality herbal products with the vision to bring health to every health conscious family to enjoy.