Despite nearly four million child births in the United States each year alone, postpartum care tends to be an area often neglected by both the patient & medical profession(s). Little information exists on the unintended health consequences following childbirth. Naturally, with the attention shifting to the infant, the health state of the mother unfortunately, tends to take a backseat.
What most people don’t realize is that the consequence of not taking proper care during this time will result in weakness and will, in the Chinese medical perspective, sow the seeds for future illnesses, such as degenerative diseases that usually don’t manifest for another decade or two.
Immediately following childbirth, symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, low back pain, arthritis, uterine hemorrhage and breast feeding complications are just some of the common complaints experienced during postpartum. Chinese medicine believes that pregnancy and childbirth depletes the body’s Qi (Vital energy) and blood, weakens the kidney and spleen systems and exhausts the Jing (essence) – from a Chinese Medical View point, which leaves the body vulnerable to attacks by external pathogenic factors. The diseased condition will lie latent until such a time when the situation is ripe for manifestation.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine is recommended during the postpartum time to rebuild the mother’s vital energies (ie: Qi, Blood, and essence). Building back up the reserves of these vital substances will restore the the mother’s energy and vitality, as well as, build her immune system and defenses in order to ward off attacks by external pathogenic factors.
The first 12 weeks following childbirth are a critical time in a woman’s life when self-care can have lasting effects on her personal health for many years to come. The following are some of the recommendations for the three months (12 weeks) following childbirth. By adhering to these guidelines, a new mother can expect to achieve more quickly the restoration of her energy and vitality, the reduction of her weight naturally, the enhancement of milk production and prevention breast infection, as well as, helping stabilize mood swings, relieving back pain, bringing back libido and ensuring a full rejuvenation of her body, mind and spirit.
- Rest and Relaxation (The most important)
- For the first 21 days following delivery, avoid running errands and limit housework to only what is absolutely necessary. Stay in with your baby and rest often. Enjoy sunlight daily if possible.
- Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Chinese herbs administered in the first 24 hours post-delivery can hasten the recovery of a woman’s immune systmen and Vital Energies (Energy level, body fluids and quality & health of blood), allowing for a quicker recovery.
- A healthy, clean diet consisting of warm, cooked foods
- Eat nutritious meals that are high in protein and whole grains, especially if breastfeeding.
- Supplement with a quality multi-vitamin and DHA (Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids). DHA is an essential fatty acid that will benefit your newborn’s brain development and will support your mental-emotional health as your hormones adjust.
- Enjoy fresh air as often as possible, but avoid becoming cold or exposed to wind.
- Self-massage and acupressure/ Massage from a CMT
- A clean living environment
- Meditation and visualization
- Accept offers for help from loved ones and friends.
- Consider having your placenta prepared for postpartum supplementation. In Chinese medicine, this is considered to be the most nutritive substance a woman can consume to support her health and vitality. (click here for more information on Placenta Preparation)
While it is natural to focus completely on the baby in those first few months, it is important to incorporate self-care into your daily schedule so you are at your best to serve your baby as a new Mother. If possible, schedule acupuncture once every week to once every other week (bi-weekly) to focus on such issues as:
- Excessive lochia
- Insufficient lactation
- Joint pain
- Postpartum depression
- Note: If you experience fever or hot flashes, night sweats, or diarrhea, call your Chinese Medical Physician and or healthcare provider right away to avoid and remedy potential excessive loss of fluids.
- Post natal acupuncture: http://www.jcm.co.uk/sample-articles/product/catalog/product/view/6577/post-natal-acupuncture/
- Betts D. The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth. East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2006
- Flaws B. Chinese Medical Obstetrics. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 2005
- Maciocia G. Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. Edinburg: Churchill Livingston, 1998
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