The postnatal period is considered the first six weeks after childbirth. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the postnatal period is a very vulnerable time for the mother.
The First Hundred Days
The first three days after birth are seen as a time of elimination, then followed by 30-100 days of rest in order to replenish blood and Qi energy that is lost through pregnancy and childbirth.
At this time, physical rest should be taken at any opportunity possible. Exercise can be appropriate (once given the okay by your doctor or Midwife) and a diet tailored to a woman’s constitutional needs should be followed.
Acupuncture and TCM as part of postnatal care can significantly reduce and prevent disharmonies from developing, such as depression/anxiety, persistent uterine bleeding, after-pains, night sweating, perineal discomfort, insufficient lactation, mastitis and breast abscesses.
Here Are Some Guiding Principals:
Avoid Cold and Stay Warm
When compared to previous Chinese times, nowadays it is much easier to keep ourselves warm with internal heating, hot baths and showers.
However, it is still important to avoid being exposed to extremely cold temperatures and wind. Do not go outside with wet hair, avoid sleeping or breastfeeding by open windows or fans, and avoid getting chilled from leaving swimming pools, hot showers and baths.
A diet of cold, and raw foods should also be avoided. Although foods such as yogurt, iced water/juice, raw salads, vegetables and sandwiches are usually quick and easy for a brand new post-natal mom, these foods can be detrimental to postnatal recovery, and can exacerbate certain conditions.
Postnatal Diet According to Chinese Medicine
This advice can be some of the most important when it comes to aiding in postnatal recovery. A woman’s underlying constitution needs to be considered when using diet therapy and should be prescribed by a trained Acupuncturist or Nutritionist.
Below are some basic guidelines for all new mothers to help build Qi energy and Blood.
Foods to Fortify Qi Energy
Oats, rice, potato, sweet potato, mushroom (button & shitake), yam, basil, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme and jasmine tea.
Foods to Build Blood
Corn, sweet rice, beetroot, all dark leafy greens, apricot, avocado, date, kidney bean, sesame seeds, egg and soya milk as well as iron rich foods like red meat and spinach.
Not only do the foods we eat matter when it comes to postnatal care, but so does how we prepare them. Cooked foods are easier on our digestive system, and allows the nutrients to be more readily absorbed. Warm soups are considered particularly nourishing for women in the initial postnatal weeks.
“Mother Warming” is a useful one-time treatment given to women four to five days post birth. It is used to aid in recovery and energize the woman after childbirth by replenishing Qi energy and Blood lost during childbirth.
Moxa or Mugwort, a Chinese herb, is burned and used to heat the woman’s abdomen from the pubic bone to the belly button for 5-10 minutes or until the woman feels pleasantly warm.
If possible, this technique is also recommended on the lower back area as well, along the midline from the second lumbar vertebra to the sacrum for 5-10 minutes or until the woman feels pleasantly warm.
It is important to note that this treatment should not be done if the woman is experiencing night sweating, has a raised temperature or if there are signs of retained placental products, as the use of moxa could cause further problems.
Please avoid moxa over a cesarean scar that appears to be infected, have redness or a pus-like discharge.
It’s best to consult with a trained Acupuncturist to ensure that there are no heat signs or other contraindications for the application of Mother Warming.
Acupuncture is a great way to treat, and prevent postnatal disharmonies from arising after childbirth.
Following Mother Warming, acupuncture and further moxa treatments 10 -14 days post birth can be administered to further assist the body in building good quality Qi energy and Blood to help with recovery.
Treatments once a week for two to three weeks is optimal.
To find out more about how we can help you with postpartum support, book a free 15-minute phone consult.
Debra Betts: The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth
Alina Gross IG @alina.gross