Postnatal treats

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After giving birth, a woman's body is weak and it loses vitality as it heals. The loss of blood and strength, and often doses of antibiotics, can adversely affect a new mother's breast milk. Supplementary nutrition for a woman after giving birth can greatly increase the quality of her breast milk. Doctor Nguyen Hong Siem, chairman of the Hanoi Association of Oriental Medicine, suggests new fathers prepare these simple dishes for their wives.

- Pig's trotters simmered with black jujubes and a giao (gelatin from the skin of a donkey, gelatinum asini): To prepare the dish, you should buy two pig's trotters, 200g black jujubes, 15g a giao, and red sugar. Wash, clean and cut the trotters into small pieces. Dissolve a giao in warm water. Put trotters, black jujubes and some water in a pot to simmer over a low heat for one hour until trotters are soft. Then add the a giao and red sugar. Stir and cook for 15 minutes. Then serve the dish hot. Enjoy the dish once every two days for a week.

- Green papaya simmered with pig's trotters: Ingredients are 400g green papaya and one pig's trotter. Wash and slice papaya into medium pieces, and wash and cut the trotter into small pieces. Simmer the trotter pieces for one hour until they are soft, then add papaya and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Season with sugar and salt and serve hot. Enjoy the dish for seven consecutive days for the best breast milk.

- Đương quy simmered with goat meat: Ingredients are 100g Ä‘ương quy (radix angelicae sinenesis, commonly known in English as dong quai or female ginseng), 200g goat meat and three thin pieces of ginger and spring onion. Wash and cut goat meat into small pieces. Put all ingredients in a pot to simmer over a low heat until the meat is cooked well. Season with sugar and salt. Eat the meat and drink the broth twice a day for five days. Women who have very little breast milk after giving birth along with a low appetite and fatigue or those who lost too much blood during birth, should eat this dish. However, women suffering from constipation should not eat this dish.

- Pork and shrimp porridge: Mince 60g pork meat and 200g fresh and peeled shrimp. Also slice some ginger into thin, long pieces. Cook 60g rice over high heat until it has the consistency of porridge. Then add pork, shrimp and ginger and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Season with sugar and salt, and add a bit more fresh ginger before eating. Enjoy the porridge for five consecutive days to tonify the kidney and produce more breast milk.

- Black sesame porridge: Cook 50g glutinous rice and 50g smashed black sesame with enough water until it becomes porridge. Enjoy the porridge for seven days to increase breast milk and fight constipation.

- Leafy remedy: Cook mồng tơi (malabar spinach, phooi leaf or basella alba) with water like a soup or eat it boiled for 10 consecutive days. Mồng tơi is rich in vitamins A3 and B3, saponin and iron, therefore the vegetable is good for women with little breast milk after giving birth.

Lastly, women who have just given birth often suffer from body image issues and many struggle to lose weight while they raise their baby. The fact is that gaining weight during and after a pregnancy is perfectly natural, but if a woman wants to lose those extra pounds she should be extra careful to do so safely.

Doctor Nguyen Minh Hong, director of the Vietnamese Center for Research and Application of Advanced Medicine in Hanoi, suggests that women who gain more than 15 kilograms that don't go away by the time their baby is 20 months old should eat and drink the following to lose a bit of weight in a healthy way:

- Eat lean meat (throw way the skin and fat), fish, shrimp, crab and peanuts

- Drink soya milk, yogurt and fat free powdered milk

- Eat vegetables and foods high in fiber such as unpolished rice, potatoes, corn, green vegetables, and fruits like manioc, plums, pomelos, apples, oranges and mandarin oranges

- Drink two glasses of hot water before meals

- Eat boiled, roasted and steamed food

- Enjoy a lot of food in the morning, eat less food in the afternoon and evening, and drastically limit nighttime snacks

- Eat regularly and don't skip meals

- Eat slowly and chew carefully

- Eat lower-calorie foods

- Limit drinking of sugary soft drinks

- Limit eating of animal's brain and viscera including heart, liver, kidney and bowels and egg yolks; also don't eat fried food.

In addition, women should exercise every day for 30-60 minutes, according to doctor Hong. Using vitamins, calcium and iron products is necessary for breast-feeders. Doctor Hong also advices that women should drink milk and fruit juices, avoid salty or very spicy foods and avoid caffeinated beverages and chocolate.

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