Making enough breast milk to nourish your baby can be a point of serious anxiety for some breastfeeding mothers. It isn’t always easy to maintain a solid breast milk supply, especially if you aren’t following a healing postpartum diet.
The lactation recipe shared below follows the principles of an Ayurvedic postpartum diet, the traditional postpartum diet that has been used to heal countless mothers in India for millennia.
The foundations of Ayurveda and a postpartum diet
If you want to follow Ayurvedic principles to build and maintain a healthy breast milk supply, you must understand two essential concepts about a healing postpartum diet.
1. You must rebuild your digestion after birth
Bringing life into this world requires an immense amount of energy, and because of this, our body is depleted, and our digestive fire is deficient.
New mothers need to strengthen their digestion, so they can actually assimilate all of their nutrients. By doing so, you will have enough nutrition to nourish your own body and have plenty to nourish your baby too.
To rebuild your digestive fire: eat warm, soupy, nourishing foods with lots of digestive spices such as black pepper, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin.
2. What you eat can affect your milk supply
I believe there are two main factors to a healthy breast milk supply: quality and quantity. Both factors are essential for a happy, well-fed baby.
If you have abundant amounts of breast milk that isn’t high quality, although your baby may be well fed, they may be unable to digest it fully. This may lead to reflux, constipation, gas, and colic.
To better the chances of having the best of both worlds – quality and quantity – make sure your diet is abundant in:
- Nourishing oils (such as ghee and sesame oil)
- Warm soups and milk based puddings
- Warm spiced milk (fresh cow or almond)
- Spices that promote lactation (fennel, fenugreek, basil, dill, fresh garlic slowly browned in oil)
- Spices that promote digestion (black pepper, clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin)
To avoid problems with your breast milk supply, limit:
- Leftovers (over 24 hours old)
- Cabbage family
- Raw foods (except sweet fruit)
- Fermented foods
- Frozen foods
- Red meat
An Ayurvedic postpartum recipe for lactation
This Ayurvedic lactation recipe is like a vegetarian version of chicken soup. Made with a base of yellow split mung beans, these little beans are extremely nourishing and easy to digest, making for the perfect staple of your healing postpartum diet.
Now let’s break down the Ayurvedic health benefits of the key ingredients in this lactation recipe, so you can better understand how we can use food as our medicine after birth.
Also known as clarified butter, Ghee is a postpartum superfood. It nourishes your depleted tissues, re-kindles your digestion, helps build and maintain a solid breast milk supply, and is highly rejuvenating. It’s absolutely delicious, too.
Garlic can be a powerful galactagogue when prepared correctly. You must mince the garlic and slowly brown it in oil on the stovetop. (Avoid using raw garlic, baked garlic, or powdered garlic. This will not promote lactation and will disturb your digestion.)
This spice has a nice maple flavor. It’s a well-known galactagogue and will help build your milk supply, as well as aid in digestion.
Clove and ginger
Both of these spices are very pungent and effective in jump-starting your digestive fire. Strong digestion is essential to properly assimilate your food and provide quality breast milk for your baby.
Just a small amount aids in the digestion of the yellow split mung beans. It also helps gently detox impurities leftover from the birth.
Recipe: Mama’s Mung Soup
Prep time: 35 Min Cook Time: 1 Hour Serves: 2
- 1/4 cup yellow split mung beans
- 4 cups filtered water
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 3/4 tsp fenugreek powder
- 1/2 tsp clove powder
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Soak yellow mung beans for 30 minutes, drain and rinse thoroughly
- Add beans, water, turmeric and 1 tbsp of ghee to a heavy bottomed saucepan
- Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer
- Partially cover and cook for 45 min to one hour or for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker
- In a small frying pan, melt the remaining ghee on medium heat
- Add minced garlic and turn down to medium low to slowly brown it (not burn!)
- Add grated ginger, cumin, fenugreek and clove, stir until fragrant
- Add sugar and stir until the sugar caramelizes to a reddish-brown
- Add in cilantro and stir until wilted
- Combine the contents in the fyring pan to the soup and season with salt and lemon juice
- Stir until well combined, let sit for five minutes before serving
Best served hot.
This recipe is appropriate to serve directly after birth, for the entire six-week recovery period, and beyond.
For the first week after birth, eat Mama’s Mung Soup by itself.
After seven days, when your digestive fire is stronger, add a side of basmati rice to compliment the meal and fill your belly.
Final thoughts on your Ayurvedic postpartum diet
Adding the above lactation recipe to your postpartum diet will ensure that you are getting proper nourishment for your own body, as well as increasing the quality and quantity of your breast milk supply for your baby. Enjoy it, mama.
Looking for more Ayurvedic postpartum recipes?
Check out Ameya’s cookbook – Mama’s Menu – for more nourishing Ayurvedic recipes for mothers on their postpartum healing journey.