Postpartum Recovery and Care with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Welcoming a new baby is one of the most joyous occasions in the life of a woman and her entire extended family. There is so much to learn and so much to do that oftentimes women neglect their own postpartum care and recovery. Since about 55% to 85% of new mothers report experiencing postpartum depression, it is essential that new moms take proper care of themselves during this stage so that they may remain healthy and able to provide the best possible care for their newborn infants. If you would like to know more about how to prepare for the months after delivery, then read on to learn more about postpartum care with Chinese medicine.
The Importance of Proper Postpartum Recovery
It goes without saying that childbirth is very difficult on a woman’s body. It results in a significant amount of fluid and blood loss. During postpartum recovery, women will also experience a substantial loss of Qi. They may find that the amount of liver blood is deficient, kidney and heart yin has declined, and there is deficiency in the spleen.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective on Postpartum Care
Postpartum care with Chinese Medicine incorporates a practice called “Zuo Yue Zi” which translates to “sitting the month”. This process of postpartum care allows for the new mother to rest and recover physically. It also gives them time to focus on breastfeeding and caring for their newborn. It gives new mothers an opportunity to strengthen the ties with their family and caretakers. The practice of Zuo Yue Zi has been shown to help new mothers improve their psychological health.
During postpartum recovery, it is vital that women ensure they are properly caring for their spleen and stomach. Excessive thoughts that can be brought on by depression can deplete spleen Qi leading to deficiency. When the spleen is not functioning properly, symptoms of postpartum depression may worsen. Since the spleen and stomach work together, it is important that women take measures to nourish the stomach as well.
Postpartum Care with Chinese Medicine
The approach to postpartum recovery according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on improving fluid circulation, allowing for an appropriate amount of mental and physical rest, as well as incorporating a healthy postpartum diet. Some examples include:
The practice of mother warming involves warming the body by applying heat. After delivering, the body loses heat and new mothers experience coldness which can lead to an overall weakness in the body. One way to accomplish this is through the use of moxibustion. Moxibustion is a centuries-old TCM practice that uses heat created by burning of the mugwort herb to provide stimulation to certain acupuncture points. It helps to purify and tonify yang and Qi while nourishing the blood and alleviating depletion. As any stagnation is resolved and the blood flow improves, new mothers can also experience pain relief.
2.Period of Seclusion and Rest
When recovering from childbirth, it is imperative that women allow themselves to get plenty of rest. Women are encouraged to stay home to improve their physical recovery. During this time, avoid doing regular chores or housework so that you can give yourself an ample amount of time to recover from the stress of delivery. Doing so has the added benefit of allowing a new mom to have more time to care for the baby. Rest and relaxation are also beneficial at warding off postpartum depression. A study out the Krittipitch Thitipitchayanant School of Nursing in Thailand reviewed the cases of 80 mothers and showed that 40 of them women who received coaching on relaxation techniques reported fewer incidences of postpartum depression as compared to the 40 who received no intervention at all.
3.Food as Medicine
During postpartum recovery, it is important that women nourish their bodies with a healthy diet. Due to the coldness brought on by childbirth, new mothers are encouraged to eat foods that generate heat. Warming foods are usually rich in protein such as meet and eggs. Adding other foods such as garlic, chilies, and peppers will have a warming effect. Foods such as chives will nourish Qi while strengthening yang, and soups containing mutton can nourish the blood. These foods will help to invigorate both yang and Qi while providing warmth to the intestines. Women will also want to avoid cooling foods during their postpartum recovery. These include such foods as bananas and tomatoes. Incorporating Chinese medicinal herbs is also a good postpartum recovery practice.
When a new baby arrives, new mothers can find the time to be both joyful and stressful. Some of the most beneficial suggestions for postpartum care, such as remaining home, relaxing, and getting plenty of rest, may see near impossible for most mothers. However, making the effort to take care of yourself after you deliver will help to speed your recovery. The warming effect of moxibustion will help to nourish blood and resolve stagnation. Allowing for an appropriate amount of rest has been shown to reduce the symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Eliminating foods that create coldness and instead choosing warming foods such as eggs and chilies will help to strengthen yang while nourishing Qi. Expectant mothers should consider speaking with a TCM practitioner about postpartum care with Chinese medicine to discuss their options for a healthy pregnancy, successful postpartum recovery, and a happy, healthy new baby.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our consultation page where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.