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Birth Outside Our Backyard, Part III: Soup!

At Welcome Baby Care we’re always striving to determine and develop best practices for serving and providing for women in the post-birth season. But we realize that the way we ‘do birth’ in the U.S. isn’t the only way and many times not even the best way. We are continually fascinated by the customs and traditions of non-U.S. countries and cultures. We ask: What can we learn from the ways many developing nations care for their new moms and babies? This week we’ll be taking a look at some birth wisdom that comes from outside of our own backyard. Do you have experience with non-U.S. birth models and traditions? Share in the comments!

Soup! By Jen Wittes

In researching the postpartum customs of various cultures, I found that the most common meal recommendation for the postnatal woman is soup.  Soup, soup, soup.  Every culture has its reasons, from expected benefits to ritual and tradition.

Here’s what I think…

Soup is a wonderful postpartum food.  It tastes good.  It feels good, slowly warming the throat, then the heart, then the belly.  How perfect for a postnatal woman, who has just exerted those three areas (and then some) during birth.

Soup is comfort food.  It’s like a tuck-in to old blankets.  It is usually healthy, containing a variety of ingredients; and it is both hearty and light at the same time.  When you don’t feel like eating, soup is easy to take.

A soup pot can feed a family of four—pretty effortlessly—for days.

Any abundant intake of warm liquid can only help with rehydration and production of breast milk.

I have made soup for many of my clients…either their recipes or my own.  I’ve seen the proof with my own eyes! The world over, postpartum women love soup.

I can’t give soup enough of a shout out, and I can’t shout about it without sharing some recipes.

Traditional Korean Postpartum Seaweed Soup (for healing and milk production)

  • 1 oz dried seaweed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cups soup stock*
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Rehydrate seaweed by placing in a large bowl and covering with water for 30 minutes. (Note: 1 oz of dried seaweed looks very small, but it rehydrates to about 2 cups)
  2. Drain seaweed, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 2-inch pieces.
  3. In soup pot over medium heat, sauté seaweed in sesame oil for 2 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and soy sauce and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  5. Pour stock into pot and turn heat to high.
  6. When soup begins to boil, turn down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the soup looks milky.

Doula Jen’s White Chili

Ingredients:

-ground turkey or chicken

-32 oz. chicken broth

-1/2 an onion, diced…red or white

-2 different cans of beans: black, navy, white northern, lentil, kidney, pinto are all good.

-1 small can diced green chili pepper

-chili powder

-cayenne pepper

-chopped garlic

-dash salt

-lime juice

-chopped cilantro

  1. Brown meat with chopped onion.
  2. Add everything else except lime juice and cilantro.  Do spices to taste.
  3. Simmer for about an hour.
  4. Two minutes before serving, add lime and cilantro.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…this soup could spell gas and trouble for mom and baby.  True, some moms and babies have sensitive tummies in those first days, but honestly—most don’t, or don’t have problems severe enough to sacrifice food variety and flavor.  This is relatively low-fat, energizing, and fun.  You can offer a side of toppings:  cheese, sour cream, olives, jalapenos, sliced tomato, avocado, tortilla chips.  And, for those concerned with spice and indigestion, you can easily tailor the heat level to Mom’s preference.

Root Veggie Puree

(Got this one from one of my clients.  It filled her home with the smells of Thanksgiving, on an early October day.  This recipe is pure comfort.)

Ingredients:

One yellow onion

-1 tablespoon butter

-about 4 large carrots, peeled and cubed

-about 1 cup chopped celery OR celeriac

-4 small golden potatoes, peeled and cubed

-32 oz. chicken broth (vegetable will do for non-meat eaters)

-rosemary

-thyme

-salt and pepper to taste

1.  Sautee onions in butter until translucent.

2.  Add carrots, celery, and potatoes and sauté for another 3 minutes to soften.

3.  Add broth, plus 2 teaspoons each of rosemary and thyme.

4.  Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. When everything is cooked and soft, puree the whole pot in a blender or food processor.

7.  Top with homemade croutons or serve with sourdough bread and butter.

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