Acupuncture and TCM can help you as much after having your baby as it can prior and during your pregnancy journey. A new mother goes through a lot of changes in 9 months and after birth will go through another rapid change as the body adjusts to postpartum. If this phase does not go well then many issues can arise for both mother and baby that can last years.
Within certain cultures, including Chinese, birth is not the end of the pregnancy. In fact they have a “Golden Month”where the mother takes a month of rest so she can heal from pregnancy and enjoy starting a new bond with her baby.
It is important to understand what the new mother’s body is going through during this postpartum time. From a clinical perspective the body is changing as the uterus, cervix, vagina and perineum heal and rearrange themselves post birthing. This can take up to 6 weeks with a typical vaginal delivery, but can be longer if there are complications or surgery involved.
The mother’s hormones are also in flux as oestrogen and progesterone drop to pre-pregnant levels within a week of giving birth. Serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol are all surging through the body making mood swings a common occurrence after birth.
Cortisol and prolactin help produce breast milk, but if the mother is too stressed than negative effects such as blood clots, memory loss, weight gain, low immunity and post natal depression can occur.
This is why the postpartum period is so crucial to a new mother, her new baby and her new family’s health. Now is the best time for Chinese medicine to step in to make the physical and mental transition easier.
TCM and Acupuncture during postpartum can help:
Post natal depression/stress
Hormone health – future fertility
Body recovery – including weight management
Prevent illnesses/support immune system
Promote breast milk
Prevent/manage pain – post birth, back pain, etc.
Baby health and development
How We Help Postpartum
Regular acupuncture and TCM are a great option 4 weeks after giving birth. Giving birth depletes your qi. New mothers need qi to build blood and produce milk. Yang qi, which is often the most depleted after birth, is what keeps mothers feeling warm and protected from illness, joint and digestive issues.
Acupuncture and TCM will help the body create more qi, restoring energy and allowing the body to heal more effectively, preventing illness or injury from occurring and addressing any that arise.
Massage therapy is also used for postpartum women all over the world. This is because it is good for circulation and building warmth. It also helps the mother to feel supported and relaxed. All this combines to build strength and energy.
TCM Tips for Postpartum Recovery
- Do not pick up heavy goods
- Avoid places that have a large number of people to protect yourself from catching bacterial or viral infections
- Do not drink or eat any food direct from the fridge and freezer. Cold foods will cause blood stagnation. Best to have warm, easily digestible foods such as soups or bone broths
- Try to eat foods high in zinc (seafood, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, almonds, leafy greens) as zinc supports mood, appetite and the reproductive system
- Eat smaller meals more often if possible to avoid blood sugar and qi dropping
- Keep lower back warm and protect it well
- In environments with air conditioning or fans make sure to cover as much as skin as possible (e.g. wear shirts with longer sleeves and collars)
- Wear socks (do not walk bare foot on timber or tile floors) and avoid walking long distances
- Do not have baths, rather take a shower
- Dry your hair straight after washing it to prevent headaches
- Wash hands with warm water as they will be sensitive to cold water during this time.
The best prescription for postpartum women is rest – but often this is the last thing a new mother gives herself. Postpartum is as much part of the pregnancy as the previous 9 months and where a lot of chronic health problems can start. Acupuncture, TCM and massage are all options to help new mothers adjust to the changes going on both within and around them.