5.2  Nutrition after childbirth

5.2.1  Eating and drinking in the first few hours

A woman lies in a hammock with her newborn. A health worker offers her some food and drink.
Figure 5.7  Encourage her to eat soon, within the first few hours, and to drink often.

Most mothers are ready to eat soon after the birth, and it is good for them to eat any kind of nutritious food they want. If a new mother is not hungry, she should at least have something to drink. Fruit juice or atmit tea is good because it gives energy (Figure 5.7). Many women want something warm to drink, like tea. Some juices, like orange juice, also have vitamin C, which can help healing. (But she should avoid soda pop like Coke, which is full of sugar and chemicals but has no nutrition.)

If the mother cannot (or will not) eat or drink within two to three hours after the birth:

  • She may be ill. Check for bleeding, fever, a hypertensive disorder, or other signs of illness that may be taking away her appetite.
  • She may be depressed (sad, angry, or without any feelings). Encourage her to talk about her feelings and needs. (Postpartum ‘blues’ were described in Study Session 3.)
  • She may believe that certain foods are bad to eat after a birth. Gently explain to her that she must eat to recover from the birth and to be able to care for her baby.

5.1.6  Help the mother to urinate

5.2.2  Counselling on postnatal nutrition