After the Baby Comes: Optimizing Postpartum Care
The process of pregnancy and childbirth consumes an enormous amount of mental energy, physical resources, and vital nutrients even in the most ideal circumstances. In the modern high-stress environment, this phase of life is inevitably physically and emotionally exhausting. Many cultures that value women have healing supportive traditions during the postpartum time. Chinese Medicine has a comprehensive philosophy devoted to the process of replenishing and restoring resources for the mother, and by association, the new child. You may have heard the phrase Zuo Yue Zi which literally translates to “sitting through the lunar cycle”, referring to the crucial month post-partum to rest and replenish. During this time, a new mother’s sole job should be to rest, heal and be with her baby. Special foods, herbs, gentle exercises, and acupuncture or moxibustion treatments (a type of warming therapy) are given to nourish both mother and child.
Resting after giving birth is important to avoid muscle strain and allow the organs to return to pre-pregnancy positions. Traditional recovery strategies include abdominal wrapping and strict bed rest. Some new parents benefit from exercises such as yoga or Pilates; we have a referral network with wonderful local instructors who can safely guide these exercises without causing injury. At MHS, new parents are always treated as unique individuals and we make recommendations based on every person’s own postpartum needs.
According to the traditional Chinese view, acupuncture and herbal medicine are an essential part of postpartum care. There are a number of herbal formulas to help replenish physical resources after having a baby. One of the most common formulas is Ba Zhen Tang, or 8 Treasures Decoction. Our practitioners frequently make custom herbal formulas to meet the very personalized needs of each patient. And as always, all herbs dispensed by our office are from high-quality sources that test for pesticides, preservatives, and heavy metals. We also recommend a diet rich in blood-building foods such as grass-fed meat, bone broth, cooked green veggies, beets, collagen, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, and fermented foods. Again, though all healthy diets have things in common, we make recommendations based on each person’s specific health needs.
Chinese medicine can also support various problems that may arise after giving birth. The most common issues we see include post-partum depression, trouble with breastfeeding, lactation pain, low energy, body pain, digestive issues, and the various problems associated with lack of sleep. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been effectively dealing with these symptoms for thousands of years, with a combination of herbal formulas, acupuncture, moxibustion, diet therapy, and helping to configure each individual’s proper support system. No two pregnancies are the same (even within the same person), and every new parent’s needs are unique. There is no one size fits all approach to postpartum care, and our practitioners are here to support you through this crazy, exhilarating, wonderful time.