Now holding your little bundle of joy in your arms, it is true that you do forget all about your tiresome and emotionally strained pregnancy period. But don’t let the care and the attitude of vigilance you exhibit regarding your health during pregnancy fade away, thinking that the crucial time is over. It isn’t. Here is the traditional Indian postpartum care.
Indian Postpartum care
Why Is Postpartum Care Important?
Indian Postpartum Care Methods
Major Aspects Of Indian Postpartum Care
Indian Style Of Postpartum Care
Postpartum Care In Ayurveda

Why Is Postpartum Care Important?

You need special care for your body after giving birth to regain energy and strength. After pregnancy and delivery, you will change both physically and emotionally. Lots of things like lack of sleep, taking care of baby, anxiety over baby’s health, hormonal changes, wondering and worrying about your body shape, other physical discomforts like vaginal discharge, cramps, etc. may affect you during this postpartum period. The postpartum period is usually six to eight weeks from the day of your delivery. This period is considered as a highly sensitive period and all the postpartum care systems as per the Indian culture, place a great emphasis on encouraging fast healing, boosting immunity, and improving the production of milk.

Indian Postpartum Care Methods

According to the Indian culture, much prominence is given to the postpartum period. Even though there are different communities and cultures, almost all the traditions encourage pregnant women to live with their mothers during delivery and the postpartum period. This is to ensure that she is getting proper rest and rebuilds her energy and health. Coping up with the new physical situation(s) and taking care of the baby will be easier for a mother if she is in a mentally comfortable zone.
Though India has various cultures, the basics of all the postpartum care systems in different Indian cultures are the same. Only the constituents change according to climate and customs. Let’s perceive the basics of postpartum care:

Major Aspects Of Indian Postpartum Care

1.Confinement Period In Postpartum Period
Forty days of the rest period of the mother after delivery to keep the mother and child away from infections is known as the ‘confinement period’ during postpartum. Few restrictions are also induced during this period to avoid future health problems for the mother and child. Please go through our article ‘Your 40 Days Confinement” Period After Delivery’ by clicking here
2.Postnatal Massage After Delivery
This is the full-body oil massage given to the mother after delivery. This will help in strengthening the new mother’s body. Massages are restricted to back, limbs, and shoulders in case the mother underwent a C-section. Read more about postnatal massages here
3.Bathing Method
The hot water bath is practiced during the postpartum period. Usually, soaps are not used to wash away the oil. Instead, powdered moong dal or chickpeas are used
4.Belly Binding
This is another important practice during the postpartum period. The tummy of the mother is tied tightly with the cloth. Does it help to reduce post-baby belly? Find out here
5.Postnatal diet
Particular foods that speed up recovery and increase the production of breast milk are recommended in the Indian style of postpartum care. Foods that are consumed should be easily digestible and should keep the body warm

Indian Style Of Postpartum Care

There are mainly three styles of postpartum care followed in India, as enlisted below.
Postpartum care

North Indian Style Of Post-partum Care

In north India, the confinement period lasts for forty days after the day of delivery.

  1. Covering of head: During the confinement period, in north Indian tradition, the mother’s head is covered with a scarf during day time. This is to prevent the loss of body heat through the head, and it also helps to avoid catching ear infections or cold
  2. Body massages: Daily hot oil body massage is given to the mother by elderly family members with enough knowledge or an experienced ‘Maushi’ will be hired. Click here to read how to hire the right “Maalishwali” after delivery. In the case of a C- section, oil massage will be done after the stitches are healed. Massages are done with nourishing oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil. Massage with Sesame oil is the traditional method as the property of this oil in controlling stress and pressure and its cooling effect. Coconut oil is usually used for head massage. As it is quickly absorbed by the skin, the stretch marks are found to reduce when this oil is applied in the belly area
  3. Bath: Hot water is poured in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. Usually, neem leaves are put along with water while boiling. Neem leaves, as we all know, are antiseptic. Soaps are replaced with chickpea powder mixed with milk cream
  4. Postpartum diet: The food items given during confinement period as per north Indian tradition are rich in ingredients that promote lactation, digestion, and resistance against infections.
    • North Indian confinement period diet includes mainly of Ladoos, parathas, and kheers which prepared with broken wheat, ajwain, methi, millet, Besan, fennel, Gond (edible gum taken from the bark of trees) dry fruits, sesame, semolina, Aliv seeds, turmeric, and fenugreek.
    • Ghee is added to almost every item that is prepared for the mother
    • Turmeric milk is given on every morning. This is made by adding a pinch of freshly ground turmeric to milk while boiling
    • Garlic milk which increases lactation is also given
    • Broken wheat porridge is given as it reduces the chances of constipation
    • Roti made with millet is included in the diet as it is a rich source of fiber aids digestion
    • Khichdi made of moong dal and rice is served as it is a rich source of carbohydrates
    • Ajwain parathas which are suitable for lactation is a dinner option, and ajwain is also believed to help in cleaning the uterus
    • Water is boiled with fennel seeds and is given to the mother frequently to increase the breast milk
    • Water boiled with fenugreek seeds is given after food in the morning to ease back pain and joint pain
    • Water boiled with jeera seeds (cumin) are found to fight against infection and gas formation
    • Kheer made with Aliv seeds is given for desert. Aliv Seeds increase breast milk
    • Belly binding is done with a large cotton cloth. It will provide repositioning the uterus, perfect position during feeding baby and put the stomach muscles back together

South Indian Style Of Post-partum Care

In some parts of south India, the confinement period lasts for sixty days. South Indian states other than Kerala more or less follow the postpartum care explained below.

  • Postpartum diet: In South India, when delivery takes place, an elderly member of the house will take charge of preparing Pathiya Samayal – a well-balanced nutritional food for the new mother.
    • In South India, certain food items that avoid during the postpartum. They are pickles, chilies, spices, oily food, sour curd, and fruits like grapes. Instead of Toor dal, which is the main ingredient of South Indian dishes, moong dal is used as Toor dal causes gas problems
    • Food is prepared by using ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard, caraway seeds, turmeric, fenugreek and freshly prepared curd which is not sour
    • Fenugreek leaves, gourds both bitter and bottle, drumsticks are all used in south India for making food for the new mother
    • Half teaspoon of turmeric is mixed with lukewarm water or milk and is given to new mom daily once as it will increase the healing of internal wounds
    • In South Indian states other than Kerala beetle leaves are given to the mother after food as it is believed to be useful for speeding up digestion
    • Dry ginger powder with jaggery or dry ginger powder in lukewarm water is given to new mom
    • Steamed food items like idly and idiyappam are preferred for breakfast. Usually, it is served with a spoon of homemade ghee and if needed a little sugar
    • Afternoon food items of ‘Pathiya Samayal’ (you will get the recipe online) is served
    • At night, before seven ‘o’clock dinner is served which is usually rice porridge along with flame-roasted Appalam and Manathakali Vathal (known as black nightshade in English and Makoy in Hindi) fried in ghee
  • Body massage: Gingelly oil is widely used in south India for body massage during the confinement period. Head, hip, and stomach are applied with slightly heated gingelly oil
  • Bath: Water for the bathing boils with turmeric pieces, tamarind leaves, and neem leaves too. Shikakai powder useful to wash the hair. Turmeric powder can apply to the whole body. After the bath, Sambrani smoke is made, and hair has to be shown over it. It is to prevent the mother from catching a cold
  • Belly binding: Belly binding is done for the first thirty days with a tightly wrapped large piece of clean cloth. It is done to compress the abdominal region

traditional indian Postpartum care

Postpartum Care In Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, good health depends upon the balance of three forces – Vatha, Pitha, and Kapha. Imbalance (dosha) of one of them causes ill health. Delivery related problems are due to the Vadha dosha. This imbalance can treat in the Ayurveda through rest, massages, food, and herbal preparations.

  • Diet during the confinement period: Diet during confinement period in Ayurveda is designed in such a way to balance the Vadha dosha. The digestive system is also very sensitive during this period, so Ayurveda insists on starting with eating easily digestible food and gradually go back to a regular diet towards the end of the confinement period.
    • Warm, fresh, and oily food that tastes sweet (Don’t mistake this as refined sugar.) In Ayurveda, sugar means natural sweetness providing food like honey, rice, fresh fruits or even yam), sour and salty are focused
    • Cold foods are avoided as they are hard to digest and will draw water from the body causing constipation and promote gas formation
    • Salads are also not recommended in Ayurveda during confinement period as they create gas
    • Timing and quantity of meals are other essential factors. Breakfast around 8 Am, lunch at around 1 pm, and dinner around 6 pm. Notice the 5-hour gap between each meal. Breakfast and dinner should be light, but the lunch should be heavy
    • Dried fruits can be taken but should remember to peel the skin of almonds
    • Kashayams, Lehyams, and Arishtams will be given to the mother to rebuild the resistance power, increasing the lactation, and rejuvenate the body after delivery
  • Body massage: Oil massage practiced in Ayurveda is called ‘abhyanga.’ This is not a deep tissue massage which promotes bleeding, but a relaxing and soothing 90 minutes repetitive massage that should be done daily during the confinement period. This helps the body to move out of the stored waste from the tissues and muscles. This repeated massage also increases lactation and enhances peace of mind. Usually, Dhanvantharam Kuzhambu is useful for the body massage, and coconut oil is useful for the head massage
  • Bath: Bath during the confinement period is called a Veth bath in Ayurveda. After a C-section Veth bath should be taken only after removing the stitches. Water boils with the herbal leaves like puli Ela (tamarind leaves), Poovarasu (birch tree), Kurumulakila (black pepper leaves), Vatham Kolli Ela (Black vasa or black Malabar nut). Instead of soap moong, dal powder is used for body and thali(taken by grinding the leaves of hibiscus) is used instead of shampoo
  • Belly binding: Ayurveda has a special belly wrapping technique. A long piece of fine cotton cloth is wrapped around the abdomen a few times and pulled snug without tightening too much (to make sure you can sit and breathe comfortably). This helps to strengthen the back and restore muscle and organs back to the original position

If you are not healthy and happy after delivery, it’s your child who will suffer more. Never hesitate to sleep whenever your child is sleeping. Never eat leftover foods. Always eat freshly prepared warm food.