Congratulations on your baby! Are you looking to follow the traditional Indian practices during the confinement period? This article mainly focuses on the benefits of the ingredients used in the Indian confinement period that is given to a new mother. If you’re looking for more information about Indian confinement practices, be sure to check out our other articles!
The aim for a confinement period in Indian practices is to purge wind from the new mother’s body after giving birth, promoting blood circulation, strengthening the joints and promoting milk supply. Just like the other cultures in Malaysia, the Indian community also believes that new mothers should avoid ‘cooling’ foods such as cucumbers, tomatoes, mutton and so on. In the Indian community, new mothers are given garlic milk as well to prevent any wind in her body. New mothers are advised to only consume ‘heaty’ or ‘hot’ foods during their confinement period.
Cooking during the confinement period for a new mother would compromise lots of garlic, herbal powders and black pepper and will only be prepared using gingelly oil. It is believed that the ingredients from the herbal powders used in typical Indian confinement foods will boost a mother’s milk supply, help eliminate toxins from the body and ensure the new mother will have a good postpartum period flow. Ingredients that are commonly used during the Indian confinement period are as follows:
Indian Confinement Food Main Ingredient
Vegetables such as beans, zucchini, carrots, squash, green leafy vegetables are cooked in ghee to nourish the new mother’s body and enable bowel movements.
Sweet potatoes are a great fill for new mothers who are constantly hungry and craving for carbs. Mothers who are nursing will constantly feel hungry and roasting a sweet potato with some salt and pepper and ghee is a great choice for lactating mothers to fill up.
Cabbage, onion, chickpeas and cauliflower are vegetables that are typically avoided for the first few weeks after childbirth as they disturb the digestive system and are believed to disrupt the five body elements. The new mothers are also given betel leaves to chew on after meals to help with digestion.
Nuts & Seeds
Known for its high protein and healthy fats are a great choice especially as a snack during the new mother’s confinement period. In Indian practices, almonds will be soaked overnight in some water (around 5-10 depending on how many the mother can eat) and peeling the skin off then eating them first thing in the morning. Sesame seeds are also extremely nutritious and beneficial for the mother’s during this period and can be sprinkled over their meals adding an extra crunch to it as well.
Turmeric is an ingredient used across all cultures due to its anti-inflammatory benefits and speeding up the healing process. This ingredient is very versatile and can be added as a marinate or soups and stews. It is good to take note to buy a better quality turmeric spice if you’re opting for using the powdered version.
Ghee is considered to be the purest fat source in Indian cuisine with good health benefits. It is also beneficial to consume fat (in a balanced amount) to establish a milk supply for your newborn. It is a great alternative to substitute ghee with your regular cooking oil whilst preparing dishes during the new mother’s confinement and even after that.
This Ayurvedic herb is typically used for women during their post-partum period to support their reproductive system and also aid in milk production. There are many ways to consume this herb – it can be purchased in powder form and then added to warm milk with some honey. Another way is to consume it in supplement or drop form. This herb is extremely popular in the Indian community with women after giving birth.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and any other fatty fish is a great nutritional source for new mothers and their babies. It is also very high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It is not recommended for new mother’s to consume this through the frying or cold preparations of the fish; however, stews, steaming and pan-seared are all great for them.
Fenugreek or methi is an Indian vegetable known for being a great source of iron and calcium which are one of the vital nutrients needed for postpartum women. This slightly bitter green vegetable can be sauteed with potatoes or be made into a dish called Methi Pulao which is a rice dish.
After giving birth, the new mother’s digestive system is extremely weak so consuming foods that will aid in digestion – fennel seeds being one of those ingredients. An easy way to consume the seeds is by boiling them with water and then drinking it. Not only does it aid in the new mother’s digestion but also promotes milk production.
Ginger & Garlic
New mothers are advised to only consume ‘hot’ foods (no we don’t mean the temperature of the foods!) and avoid ‘cooling’ food items during their confinement period. Ginger is the most popular ingredient across all the cultures in Malaysia during a new mother’s confinement menu as it’s warm and healing effects help settle the tummy. It is added to most dishes as it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps support the new mother’s body through its recovery by reducing any soreness and pain that may occur.
Garlic is another important part in the confinement diet as it helps keep immunity levels in the new mother high during this vulnerable period after giving birth.
Popular Indian Confinement Dishes
Ingredients: Chicken, Turmeric, Ginger, Cloves, Black Pepper, Star Anise
Benefits: This simple but pleasurable soup is not only warm and comforting but nourishing. It is considered an essential part of a confinement diet across various cultures because it’s easy to digest.
Methi and Garlic Fish
Ingredients: Boneless Fish, Fenugreek (Methi), Coriander leaves, Garlic, Turmeric, Chilli, Cumin Seeds, Tomatoes, Cardamom powder
Benefits: It is a great source of nutrients and protein for new mothers during this confinement period.
Ingredients: Almonds (Badaam), Milk, Ghee, Sugar, Pistachio,
Benefits: This traditional Indian dish is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins B12 and E, and minerals like magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus.
Ingredients: Garlic, Tamarind paste, Mustard seeds, Turmeric, Cumin seeds, Black pepper, Pigeon pea lentils (Dal), Red chilli, Ghee, Tomatoes, Curry leaves
Benefits: The use of garlic in this dish helps aid in lactation for the new mother as well as assisting in building her immunity.
Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Ghee, Sugar, Carom Seeds, Ginger Powder, Cardamom
Benefits: This traditional dish is believed to aid digestion and lactation as well as cleanse the uterus.
Mandua Ka Halwa
Ingredients: Finger Millet Flour, Ghee, Sugar, Carom Seeds, Ginger Powder, Dried Melon Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds
Benefits: It is known for being an excellent source of the needed nutrients a new mother’s needs in her body after giving birth.
Ingredients: Split Yellow Gram, Fenugreek Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Onion, Garlic, Turmeric Powder, Bengal Gram Flour (Besan)
Benefits: Moong Dal is packed full with protein and fiber keeping the new mother fuller and helps prevent unhealthy munching. The protein in this dish also is there to regenerate and repair the damaged cells in the new mother’s body after giving birth.
Ingredients: Whole Wheat Flour, Ghee, Desi Khand (Muscovado Sugar), Cashew/Almonds, Raisins
Benefits: This North Indian dessert is great for new mothers as it provides nourishment and energy. It also promotes healing and increases lactation, soothes joint pains and is anti-inflammatory.
After reading this article, we hope it has given you a clearer insight on why these ingredients are typically used in Indian practices during the confinement period. Their practices have lasted throughout generations and are proven to have worked. We wish you a safe and blessed recovery during your postpartum period!