The confinement period, which begins right after childbirth, is important to establish breastfeeding. During this time, it is recommended that mothers nurse on demand, have skin-to-skin contact with the newborn, and ensure that the baby latches on well.
Apart from these, a good maternal diet helps the body produce enough breast milk. An ideal maternal diet catered to breastfeeding would consist of adequate hydration, carbohydrates, proteins, lean fat, vitamins, and minerals.
There are so many foods that are claimed to increase milk supply. If you're not sure what meals to prepare during confinement, here are 10 simple confinement food recipes for breastfeeding mothers to increase breast milk.
Chinese Milk Booster Food Recipes
Traditional Chinese confinement food typically incorporates spices like ginger to expel wind. Additionally, ingredients like ginger, garlic, red dates, and goji berry are added for their strong antioxidant properties to speed up postpartum recovery.
Proteins are often cooked for a long time, breaking down the soft tissues and making them easy to digest. Here are some traditional Chinese confinement foods that you can make at home.
Black Vinegar Pig Trotters
This is a classic Hokkien confinement dish. Pig trotters are slow-cooked in black vinegar and ginger, giving you a savoury and flavorful broth. You can pair it with a side of rice and stir-fried greens.
Some of the key nutrients in this dish are:
- Collagen. Proven to improve skin elasticity and relieve joint pain.
- Iron and vitamin B12. Help replenish blood that's lost during childbirth and improves excessive tiredness.
- Protein. Aid wound recovery and improve muscle strength.
Trotters have tough connective tissues. We definitely recommend letting the dish cook on low heat for at least 3 hours to soften the trotters.
- 1 bottle or 750ml Black Vinegar
- 325ml water
- 200 grams ginger
- 1 pig trotter
- 150 grams brown or palm sugar
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 5 hard-boiled eggs
- Salt to taste
- Firstly, blanch the trotter to remove impurities. In a pot, cover the pig trotter with water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the trotter and set it aside.
- Remove the ginger skin and cut it into thick slices.
- Preheat a pot over medium heat. Add sesame oil and ginger. Sauté until fragrant.
- Into the pot, add the black vinegar, water, and brown or palm sugar. Bring this to a boil before adding the trotters. Simmer in low heat for 1.5 to 3 hours.
- Add peeled boiled eggs during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Finally, add salt to taste.
Milkfish and Green Papaya Soup
This is another famous confinement food. The starring ingredient is green papaya which is high in fiber and traditionally used to boost milk supply.
A warm bowl of milkfish and green papaya is perfect to eat on a cold day. This dish calls for milkfish, which is a type of white fish high in:
- Protein which is required for postpartum internal healing.
- Calcium and magnesium. To support maternal bone health.
- Iron. A key micronutrient needed to make red blood cells.
But you can easily switch this up with any fresh fish available at your local grocer. Most people prefer seabass, grouper, red snapper, and cod for the best flavour.
- 2 medium-sized milkfish
- 500 grams or a small green papaya
- 4 red dates
- 1 teaspoon goji berry
- 60 grams ginger, peeled and cut into thick slices.
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 liter of water
- Salt to taste
- Preheat a wok and add your sesame oil. Fry the milkfish until the skin is golden brown. Remove the fish and set it aside.
- Peel and remove the seeds of the green papaya. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Then, add the fish, goji berry, red dates, and ginger. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it simmer for half an hour.
- Season with salt.
Ginseng Herbal Chicken Soup
Ginseng is a traditional herb that is proven to have many health benefits. Other than reducing the risk of cancer, ginseng also boosts the immune system and increases energy levels.
Naturally, ginseng has a distinct bitterness. To balance this, we’ll use some red dates and goji berries for their natural sweetness. Simmered with a whole chicken, ginseng herbal chicken soup is absolutely heart-warming and gentle to the stomach.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into small pieces
- 1 Korean or American ginseng
- 10 dried red dates
- 1 tablespoon of dried goji berries
- 2 liters of water
- Salt to taste
- Clean chicken thoroughly. Rinse all dried herbs.
- Add all ingredients into a pot and bring it to a boil. Then, simmer the soup over medium-low heat for 2 hours.
- Season with salt.
Ginger Fried Rice
Ginger fried rice is fragrant and definitely filling. It can be a go-to dish if you need a heavier meal to start the day. In this recipe, you’ll only need a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
Other than relieving flatulence, ginger is believed to increase milk supply. Breastfeeding mothers also need extra iodine and choline, and eggs are a good source of both these nutrients.
Ideally, you’ll need day-old rice to get the perfect texture of fried rice. But if you have freshly cooked rice, you can spread the rice between two clean kitchen towels to absorb the excess moisture.
- 1 knob of ginger, finely chopped
- 2 bowls of white rice
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- Preheat a medium-sized wok. Add sesame oil and ginger. Sauté until fragrant.
- Crack the eggs into the wok and scramble until half-cooked.
- Add rice and mix evenly.
- Season with light soy sauce and salt to taste.
Western Food Recipes for Breastfeeding
If you’re brought up in a traditional family, it’s natural to be worried that western foods are not suitable to take during confinement. But with fresh ingredients and some meal planning, you might find that western food can be nourishing and easy to prepare.
Just remember to steer clear of harmful foods like high-mercury fish and alcohol. Check out this article to find out the top foods and drinks to avoid during confinement.
In this section, we’ll share some quick and healthy western recipes to nurse newborn mothers back to good health.
Many consider oatmeal a superfood when it comes to maternal nutrition. This is mainly because it increases milk supply and is a source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Other than being a natural milk booster, oatmeal also relieves constipation which is common in women during confinement. Eating oatmeal could even help you lose weight because it is very filling. So you may not feel the urge to snack more often.
For this recipe, we’ll use banana and peanut butter as the topping. You can modify this recipe by using the topping of your preference.
- ½ cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of liquid of your choice. Water, milk, or non-dairy milk.
- 1 banana sliced
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- In a small pot, bring your liquid to a boil.
- Add the rolled oats and stir continuously over medium-low heat until the oats have absorbed all the liquid. This would take about 5-7 minutes.
- Top the oatmeal with sliced banana and peanut butter.
Baby Spinach Omelette
During confinement, it is recommended that mothers take a high-protein diet with food like eggs to speed up healing and support milk production. And what better way to start the day than having a delicious fluffy omelette?
Eggs are a source of vitamin D, iodine, choline, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Some evidence suggests eggs enhance breast milk composition. Choline, particularly, is thought to promote babies’ brain development.
By adding dark leafy greens like spinach to the omelette, you get extra iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin K. These nutrients are needed to support maternal bone health and help mothers recover from blood loss.
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 cup of baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add washed baby spinach, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
- Add butter to a skillet or non-stick pan and turn the heat to medium. Once the butter has melted, add the egg mixture and cook until partially done. Flip the omelette and cook for another 2 minutes.
Salmon is a great choice of protein to take during the confinement period. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 which are believed to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Instead of having salmon with a side of rice or potato, why not try this refreshing salmon salad?
This salad contains red onions, cucumber, and navel orange that are rich in antioxidants and boost your immune system during confinement. Pumpkin seeds and walnuts add to the crunch factor while giving you the benefits of healthy fats.
- 1 salmon filet, deboned
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cucumber, diced
- 1 navel orange, diced
- ¼ cup of walnuts
- ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper.
- Season both sides of the salmon filet with salt and pepper. Preheat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Then, put your filet skin side down and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook the fish until about 90% done before flipping it. Continue cooking until the filet is cooked through.
- In a mixing bowl, combine onion, cucumber, and navel orange. Drizzle with olive oil evenly and season with salt. Add the salmon and top with walnut and pumpkin seeds.
If there’s one food you should make in batches and store in the freezer during confinement, it’s bone broth. This highly nutritious food is made by simmering the bones of animals like chicken, pork, fish, or beef.
Over time, the bones and connective tissues break down. And what you get is a concoction of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, collagen, and vital amino acids.
The anti-inflammatory effect of glycine and arginine may fasten the healing of birthing wounds. Sipping bone broth is also a great way to increase hydration so your body can produce enough milk for the baby.
Another practical benefit of having one broth in hand is saving a lot of cooking time. This dish can be eaten with rice, noodles or become a tasty base for gravies or curries.
- 1 whole chicken, cleaned and cut into 8-12 pieces
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise.
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 200 grams ginger, cut into thick slices
- Salt to taste
- First, blanch the chicken. Place the chicken in a pot and cover with water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and return the chicken to the pot.
- Broil the ginger, garlic, and onion on high for about 5 minutes, until brown and fragrant.
- Add the broiled aromatics, chopped carrots, and celery to the pot. Fill in with water to cover all the ingredients and boil over high heat, then simmer the broth over low heat for 3-4 hours.
Milk Booster Confinement Snacks
Breastfeeding consumes about 25% of the body’s energy. So it's no wonder that nursing mothers often feel hungry. Check out our simple and quick confinement snack recipes made with milk-boosting ingredients to help curb your hunger and stay energized throughout the day.
Lactation cookies are just like regular cookies with ingredients like oats, brewers yeast, and nuts to help increase milk supply. These cookies are easy to make and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Oats are commonly found in baked goods made for nursing mothers as they contain beta-glucan, which is thought to increase the level of prolactin in the body. Prolactin is a hormone responsible for making breast milk. Therefore a higher level of prolactin could result in a better milk supply.
Brewer’s yeast is another nutritional supplement packed with B vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium. Nuts are perfect for confinement snacks because they contain protein and may promote satiety.
- ⅓ cup of water
- 1 cup of butter, room temperature
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- ½ cup of granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup of Brewer’s yeast
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups of rolled oats
- 1 ½ cup of dark chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cup of chopped almonds
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set it aside.
- Add butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to a mixing bowl. At medium speed, mix all these ingredients for about 2 minutes. Then, add egg yolks, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and yeast. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
- Add flour to the batter and mix well at low speed. Add rolled oats and repeat this step.
- Stir in chocolate chips and chopped almonds with a spatula.
- Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, portion about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough onto the baking paper. Make sure to space the dough 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cookies cold down completely before serving.
Almond Butter and Dates Energy Balls
This super easy and quick snack idea only needs 5 ingredients to make. They are naturally sweet and packed with energy from dates.
We’ll be using almond butter and oats as milk-boosting ingredients. Don’t worry if you can’t find almond butter, just use peanut butter instead. This tasty treat is also high in fiber, immune-boosting antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- 1 cup of dates, pitted.
- 3 tablespoons of almond butter
- ¼ cup of dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- ⅔ cups of rolled oats
- Pulse the dates in a blender or food processor until they form a ball.
- Add oats, chocolate, chia seeds, and almond butter and pulse until combined.
- Roll the mixture into small balls, about 1-inch across.
The confinement period is an important time for mothers to recuperate and focus on healing. It is also important to kickstart breastfeeding and establish enough milk supply for the newborn.
Mothers can nourish their bodies for healing and lactation by eating whole foods. So make sure you eat a balanced meal or try out some of the recipes we share in this article.
But we get it. Caring for a newborn over the clock demands every last energy you have. Sourcing fresh ingredients and meal prepping may not be high on the priority list.
At Phoenix Signature Kitchen, we’ll take care of your nutrition, so you don’t have to. Our meal package delivers lunch, tea time snacks, and dinner right to your doorstep. You can even request post-cesarean or vegetarian confinement meals.
Click this link to order your first meal package today.