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Meeting Your Water Needs Postpartum: Part 1 – Old Fashioned Soup!

Author: Julina Halim

Think of everything you’ve heard about the importance of drinking enough water. As you know, we are made up  mainly of water. On average, up to 60% of an adult’s body is composed of water, and there are different water contents in each body tissue and organ. For example, plasma, the fluid portion of the blood is 90% water, and our heart and brain combined is 73% water. 

Water is a vital component of every cell, it regulates body temperature, and is essential for every metabolic function. 

The cold chill that some mummies feel after birth may be partly due to fluid loss during childbirth. 

Not only do you need to be well hydrated to heal, but breastfeeding also increases your demand for water in the body. Breast milk is around 90% water, and your newborn (up to 6 months) is about 74% water. While babies don’t typically need anything else but the mother’s milk to stay hydrated, your fluid intake will need to support you, your baby, and breastfeeding. 

According to eatright.org, you will need 16 cups of water per day; one easy way to achieve this is to drink a large glass of water each time you breastfeed. 

You can also meet your fluid intake through food and other non-caffeinated beverages.

Meet Your Water Needs through Comforting Warm Soup

In many Asian traditional postpartum care practices, women are encouraged to get their fluid intake through soups and herbal teas, refraining from drinking plain water. 

The tradition may have stemmed from a time when clean water was not available for everyone; drinking water may have exposed the new mother to more harm. Making soup and tea involved boiling and simmering, which helped sterilize the water. 

But we now know there is more to this; soups may be the one of the best healing foods postpartum while helping to hydrate you; and, the array of herbs used in the soups/teas are now known to be rejuvenating and help support healing and digestion.

In Korea, seaweed soup (miyeok guk) is a typical meal served to women who have just given birth. The soup is made with miyeok (sea mustard, also known in Japanese as wakame) cooked in bone broth with meat slices. 

Wakame is packed with minerals and nutrients and is a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. It is associated with many benefits such as lowered cholesterol, decreased blood pressure, reduced insulin and blood sugar, and cancer-fighting properties. It is also high in vitamin K, a vitamin that helps with blood clotting and bone building. 

Bone broth and meat slices in the soup provide protein and minerals for tissue recovery. They also contain fat for replenishment and fat-soluble nutrients. Being fully cooked, the soup is easy for digestion, too.

There are so many examples and recipes like this as we dig into traditional postpartum care practices worldwide. Science today has helped us understand them better but somehow our grandmothers knew before we did. 

Water is not your only option. You can meet your fluid intake by including soups and non-caffeinated beverages in your day. In Part 2 (link to part 2), we will look at “Tea, Coffee, or Wine?”

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