Chapter 14: The first few hours after the birth
Help the mother eat and drink
Most mothers are ready to eat soon after 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 is
good because it gives energy. Many women
want something warm to drink, like herbal
tea. Some juices, like orange juice, also
have vitamin C, which can help healing.
(But she should avoid soda pop like Coke
that is full of sugar and chemicals but not
nutrition.) Encourage her to eat soon,
within the first few hours, and to drink often.
You need lots of
good food and
drink to get your
after the birth.
If the mother cannot (or will not) eat or drink after 2 or 3 hours
• The mother may be ill. Check for bleeding (see page 236), infection (see
page 271), and other signs of illness that may be taking away her appetite.
• The mother may be depressed (sad, angry, or without any feelings).
Encourage her to talk about her feelings and needs.
• The mother may believe that certain foods are bad to eat after a birth.
But she must eat to recover from the birth and to be able to care for her baby.
Eating after birth
Midwives, healers, family members, and doctors may all have different
advice about the food women should eat during
pregnancy and after birth. The
nutrition information in this book
is based on the ideas most Western
doctors, nurses, and midwives
learn. Other systems of medicine
and local customs prescribe
different ways of eating, such as
avoiding spicy foods, or only eating
warm foods. Some of these ideas may not seem of value
to those who practice Western medicine, but they still offer benefits.
However, some customs, such as avoiding protein, are dangerous.
Eating only one kind of food is not enough, and avoiding certain foods
can lead to serious health problems. After birth, women need to eat as
much as or more than they did when they were pregnant. They need the
same mix of foods: main foods, vegetables and fruits, and protein foods
like beans, eggs, nuts, meat, or milk. Talk to the mother and her family
about what she plans to eat after the birth. Help her eat a wide variety of
healthy foods. See pages 33 to 42 for more about nutrition.
A Book for Midwives (2010)