Chinese medicine has a long, rich history of special consideration and treatment for the postpartum mother. These traditional practices see it as essential for the new mother to couple rest with gentle activities and to be deeply nourished, warmed, and supported to help the vital substances (Qi, Blood, Yin & Yang) come back into a state of balance. The postpartum time, and the care a mother is able to receive, can be a crucial period in a woman’s life and often greatly influence her state of health well into the future.
Take Your Time
– Adequate time & care are needed to recover from the tremendous task of pregnancy and childbirth. This is the time to replenish & rebuild energy and blood that were lost during birth as well as boost nutrients and reserves needed to produce breast milk, regulate hormones and give stamina to care for a new baby.
– It is thought that a full 3 months are needed after a baby is born for the womb to fully recover and for vital substances to be fully restored. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Golden Month’ or ‘Sitting Moon’, the first month postpartum is considered the most important.
– Avoid exposing your body to extreme weather or temperatures. Wind, cold and damp can easily penetrate the postpartum mother as the channels & pores are still open after childbirth and can lead to infections, pathological bleeding & longer recovery time.
– Use moxibustion, a warming therapy with dried Chinese mugwort. Mother Warming or Mother Roasting uses indirect moxa or a moxa box over the lower abdomen and/ or low back to create a deep & penetrating sensation of warmth. Moxa can be used for 10-20 minute sessions until the desired level of heat is felt. This practice helps to encourage the uterus to return to its pre pregnancy size, shape & location, it aids in decreasing after-birth pains, builds breast milk supply, can assist in healing scars from cesarean sections and strengthens overall vitality.
– Warm yourself from the inside by prioritizing warmed & cooked foods and drinking warm or room temperature beverages. Use warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black & white pepper, clove, nutmeg, fennel & anise.
– Broths are highly encouraged and a core staple of the traditional postpartum diet. Broths made from meat & bones of beef, chicken, lamb or fish and from veggies, seaweeds or mushrooms can be drunk daily and become the base for soups, stews, sauces and congees (grain porridge).
– Emphasizing foods & drinks that are easy to process (i.e. warm temperature, well cooked, soups, broths & congees) are beneficial as digestion is often weak postpartum.
– Eat foods that build Blood to restore what was lost during birth and to encourage lactation. Examples include red meat, organ meats & bone marrow, dark leafy greens, barley, quinoa, oats, dates, avocado, adzuki & kidney beans, black sesame seeds, eggs, nettles & parsley.
Please always check with your acupuncturist to be sure any recommendations are appropriate for your specific constitution and postpartum presentation.