Food traditions for new mothers.
October 3, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Does your family (origin, creation etc.) have any postpartum food traditions?

I am looking to collect information about food and care traditions for postpartum mothers from around the world. Mostly I am looking for traditions that focus on the care of the mother's health not necessarily meal planning for a busy new family.

I am going to try to put together a list of recipes and information that can be read and talked about during a friend's baby shower (3rd baby low key celebration/babyshower).

Links or names of specific dishes will be greatly appreciated!!

I did try searching google and have a couple traditional Asian recipes on my list (Korean, Filipino, Chinese) but I am looking for more!
posted by Swisstine to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In Korea they give the mother a bowl of Miyeok Guk (seaweed soup) after giving birth.
posted by french films about trains at 2:06 PM on October 3, 2012

My grandma makes these amazing bran muffins and brings them to the hospital for all the new moms in our family. She also brings fresh raspberries and pears for the fiber. If you've had a child, you'll understand how helpful this is.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 2:10 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think this is what you are looking for, but for completeness' sake, some people eat the placenta. A coworker of mine sent her's to a placenta specialist who dried it, pulverized it and put it in capsules, which the mom took during the postpartum period, supposedly to help prevent postpartum depression.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 2:20 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

In traditional Chinese medicine, food is believed to have either "heaty" or "cooling" properties (doesn't necessarily relate to actual temperature of the food when served--a room temperature chocolate bar would be "heaty" and hot seaweed soup would be "cooling," for example, because of the intrinsic nature of the chocolate and seaweed).

Childbirth is believed to deplete the body of heat, so for a month after giving birth, my cousin was fed a "heaty" diet by her mom: e.g. dishes with chicken, fruits like coconut and dates, spices such as ginger.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is a page with examples of traditional Chinese "confinement soups" like my aunt would have prepared for my cousin.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:33 PM on October 3, 2012

I gave birth to my daughter in the midst of doing ethnographic fieldwork in Bolivia, in a predominantly Quechua (indigenous) working-class community. I also happened to give birth the day before New Years' Eve, and my neighbors and I went through with our plans to have a big gathering in my quarters, complete with lechón (roast suckling pig). Sadly, I was told that it was a bad, bad idea to eat such heavy, fatty food so soon after giving birth, so they roasted me up a chicken instead and I did not get to taste the delicious, delicious pig. And chicha (corn beer) was supposedly good for milk production, just as beer was considered good for nursing mothers in Anglo-American traditions.
posted by drlith at 2:56 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

My German family would always give the new mother beer, specifically malzbier. Also cited here.
posted by banannafish at 3:03 PM on October 3, 2012

My oldest daughter grew up in Cambodia and is Vietnamese-minority. She used to make the most delicious beef dish for us as a treat where she stewed the beef pieces in peppers and spices first then fried it quickly. She said it was for women who had just given birth especially, but I don't know if that's a Khmer or Vietnamese tradition. We stopped eating it as often when we discovered she was using tablespoons of MSG for it, but oh man, it was good.

They put lemon juice in the newborn's eyes and they wrap them both up tightly and will put the mother and baby over a banked fire to "heat" them so they recover faster.

In Singapore where we live, it's the one-month confinement period where you're not supposed to bathe (especially washing your hair) and you eat lots of special double-boiled soups and drink XO and get special massages. It's pretty common to have a confinement nanny who stays at your house the first month to cook and care for the baby and mother. It's less common because it's expensive and now the mothers and mother-in-laws will do it, and the bathing and food things are often ignored.

The first month party is a great tradition though - the parents give out eggs dyed red and there's cake and people give hongbaos, money gifts, to the parents. Oh and cutting the baby's hair - the first haircut is done around then and there's a tradition to have the hair turned into a calligraphy brush that's framed against a scroll of the baby's name. Mostly Chinese, but I have met other Asian parents who did that.

Placenta encapsulation is done here - they will come collect your placenta from the hospital and return it as pills and it's supposed to be very healthy, mostly chinese traditional medicine stuff. There are other rituals - the Malays bury the placenta I think and some Indian families have a priest bless it - but when you give birth they confirm ahead what you want to do with the placenta because often people have rituals, it's not considered kooky.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:31 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

My mother insisted that I eat nothing that was "sour" meaning pickled things, including vinegar. This was to prevent a bloated stomach and the body not getting back to normal. There were many other food injunctions, but that one I remember the most, because I craved certain foods after the birth of my child.
posted by jadepearl at 7:38 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

In my limited exposure and emigrant Cantonese background tempered by a formal bioscience education, post-partum foods tend to be rich in iron and citric acid and to a lesser extent protein. Of the other foods, they tend to be red (and thus thought to be good for blood/iron).

(cirtic acid is an important cofactor for iron absorption, lots of iron rich ingredients are paired with small fruits and berries and whatnot - but I see a lot of supposedly "blood enhancing" diets with a deficit in citric acid)
posted by porpoise at 8:35 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, right, thanks for the reminder jadepearl - vinegary/acids cooking stuff rich in collagen and bones; abundant amino acids from collagen and minerals (including calcium) from bones.

Edit feature? I must be hallucinating!
posted by porpoise at 8:37 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone!! Best answers for links to more information, but I do appreciate every story!
posted by Swisstine at 9:40 AM on October 4, 2012

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