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Tamil Postpartum Care

In Tamil households, after the birth of a child, it is customary for women to observe a confinement period of 31 days, where she and the baby are taken care of to help heal from childbirth and nourish her body.

In Tamil households, after the birth of a child, it is customary for women to observe a confinement period of 31 days, where she and the baby are taken care of to help heal from childbirth and nourish her body.

During this period, the new mother follows a strict postpartum diet that is meant to encourage milk production and replenish her body. Mothers and babies are also kept in isolation from outsiders as a protective measure from infection, that can be difficult during postpartum or for the newborn. Furthermore, this isolation allows for optimal rest needed for healing, and an opportunity for the mother and newborn to bond.

Babies are also given special care during this time, filled with lots of oil massages, warm bath, and time with the mother. Here are some of the practices that follow childbirth. These are practices I followed that helped with my postpartum healing. These are practices that can also be incorporated to regular non-postpartum routines for times the body needs extra care. New mothers are to avoid stress or any strenuous lifting to allow for healing.

Please use at your own discretion, and with consultation with your health practitioner as everyone has a different postpartum journey and health needs.

Pathiya Kulambu (Herbal Curries)

A new mother is prepared dishes made of herbal spices – often a mix of cumin, fennel, turmeric, and black peppercorns. These spices can be added to any protein such as fish or chicken or vegetable. Lots of curry leaves and garlic is added to these dishes. Paal sura (milk shark) is a commonly consumed too.

Iron rich and calcium rich foods are added to replenish blood loss during childbirth and help build milk production. Lighter green vegetables, liquids, soups are taken as they are easier to digest. Even rice is cooked to a mushy consistency for easy digestion. Perungayaam is also added in small amounts to help remove flatulence and deal with the sensitive digestive system.

Avoid Gas Causing Foods

Gas causing vegetables, such as cauliflower, potatoes, and cabbage, are avoided completely during this period, as this may increase gas if breastfeeding.

Minimizing Spice and Salt Intake

These dishes are not spicy, so it does not upset the baby’s stomach when breastfeeding. There is also minimal salt included to avoid fluid retention. During pregnancy and after childbirth, there is fluid retention, especially of the feet, and minimizing salt helps to remove fluid retention.

Fenugreek and Fennel Tea

Fenugreek is said to help with enhancing breast milk production, and fennel helps with digestion. A tea made with equal parts of fenugreek, fennel and rose buds (optional) can help with milk production.

Betel Leaf

Betel leaf helps with digestion and calcium production and is consumed in small amounts after a meal. As the mother’s digestion can be slowed immediately after delivery, this helps with digestion.

Sesame Oil Massage

A sesame oil massage helps with soothing the body and with muscle pain relief. Massaging some warm (not hot) sesame oil before a bath is encouraged.

Neem Bark and Neem Leaves Bath

This is one of the best concoctions for relieving pain, especially muscle and back pain. Childbirth can cause a lot of back pain. This was one of the remedies that offered me the most relief. In a pot, boil equal parts neem leaves with neem bark, and once it has cooled to touch, but still warm (not hot), use a washcloth and use this on sore muscles for relief. This followed by a bath offers great relief.

Chickpea Flour, Neem Powder and Turmeric Powder Wash

Soaps are drying on the skin, a powder of chickpea flour, neem powder and turmeric provides antiseptic and antibacterial properties while cleansing the skin. You can prepare this ahead of time and use this to wash your body.

Dry Ginger Powder

Keep warm and dry is important in healing. Getting a cold during this period can hinder recovery, so moms are kept warm. After a bath, dry ginger powder is applied to the soles of the feet and then socks are worn to help keep the body warm and remove any excess fluid.

Saffron and Milk

Saffron milk is a warming and nourishing drink that is said to have properties that help combat postpartum blues, which can be common immediately after childbirth.

What are some practices that helped your postpartum journey?

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