Drink it up


RIGHT AFTER I gave birth to my child, my mother-in-law asked me to go easy on water. Hot water could be added to Horlicks, which I loathed, or taken in the form of spiced broths (rasam/shorbas) or in tea/coffee/milk—none of which I drank—but boiled, cooled water was frowned upon. I was told it could make a new mother catch a cold, put on a tummy and even delay her recovery from birthing wounds.

So, I was not allowed to drink water as I liked, leaving me dizzy and drained after just two days. It didn’t help that it was peak summer in a hot city and I was nursing my child full time. As tempers and temperatures began to rise, I weighed the pros and cons.

My body had just expanded, undergone contractions and a semi deflation in less than a year. Surely, I could handle a cold if I caught one! Oh and the dreaded mommy tummy? I already looked like an almirah at nine months. If a few extra glasses of water meant looking like a mini truck, so be it, I told myself. And as far as the healing of sutures and wounds was concerned, I knew I could count on my doctor if things were to go wrong!

So I drank—not by the gallons, but by my thirst. I had a lot of water and fresh juices through the day and occasionally a bowl of soup or rasam at night. When I go through my health records at that time, I find not one prescription for cold! A personal achievement, I must confess. During the first few months postpartum, I also didn’t zoom back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I managed to shed enough weight to feel fit and care for my child and myself. A few extra glasses of water a day hadn’t turned my life upside down after all. But limiting its intake for the first few days after delivery had proven very challenging.

As I have mentioned before in my column, rules and rituals surrounding pregnancy, maternal and infant care in our country are varied and best reviewed before being pursued. Some of them are packed with ancient wisdom and logic and some others not quite.

A reluctance to drink water in the weeks following the birth of a child is very common across the country. But it is better to listen to one’s body and not go by any rule or standard.

A sudden dip in intake of fluids, especially in women who have had a vaginal delivery, could lead to formation of stones in the kidney and onset of urinary tract infection. A daily consumption of 2.2 to 3 litres for pregnant or nursing mothers is normal and most often required.

If you are feeling drained, dizzy, constipated or are passing smelly or concentrated urine, please drink up.


◆ Poor water intake among women living in the hills can lead to severe complications. Effective absorption and distribution of oxygen at high altitude forces the body to make more red blood cells, making the blood thicker. This, in turn, (combined with very little fluids) can increase incidence of clotting in mothers.

Next issue: Eating for two?