Postpartum care with Chinese Medicine

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The postpartum period is the period after childbirth. The woman's condition is vulnerable, requiring rest and a good diet. During birth plenty of blood is lost, leading to a deficiency of blood. This leaves the mother's system vulnerable to various diseases, and is a main cause of postpartum depression, lack of milk supply and fatigue.

Women tend to get out of bed soon after giving birth, without allowing proper time for recovering and replenishing lost qi and blood.

In China, women are accustomed from a young age to the idea that after childbirth, there is a period of a month during which the mother focuses only on resting and feeding her newborn child. Special foods are eaten to nourish the woman, like chicken and ox-tail soup, and the woman's family helps with diapering, caring for other children, cleaning the house, laundry and cooking. The new mother doesn't leave the house and rests completely. Demanding visitors are kept at bay. The baby sleeps next to the mother for at least the first 6 months before being moved to a separate bed.

The Chinese believe that newborns are very sensitive soul and should not be unsettled. Here in the west, we try and do too much with the newborn baby too soon, and this is unsettling, which according to the Chinese, leads to unexplained infant death. In China, the new babies are not taken out of the house, as environments like shopping centers and restaurants, with their strong lights, noise and cold air conditioning can be too intense for the new soul. After the month settling period, things are introduced slowly in stages.

Women after Childbirth should be watched carefully for blood and qi depletion. Some signs to look for:

1 Fatigue

2 Depression/difficulty coping

3 Dizziness, light-headedness

4 Blurry vision

5 Pale, pasty complexion

6 Poor memory

7 Difficulty sleeping

8 Loose stools

9 Low milk production

When Qi and Blood are not supplemented it can lead to many health issues. These problems can either manifest early on or years later during following pregnancies or during menopause. Some good ways to replenish qi and blood are:

1 Chinese Herbs

2 Acupuncture

3 Moxibustion (warming of acupuncture points with Chinese mugwort)

4 Avoiding drafts and strong winds

5 Avoiding becoming cold/walking barefoot

6 Eating warm foods, lots of soups.  No cold foods or drink.  

7 Plenty of rest

8 Avoid rich, greasy, spicy food.

Admittedly, it is a far stretch for most western women to stay home and in bed for a full month. However, Birth is a demanding endeavor and women require rest and space to integrate and fully recover. The newborn baby requires time for its gradual transition from the womb into its new life. Taking some time during the beginning to honor the transition for mother and child benefits both and ensures a healthy strong start. When care is taken to restore the qi and blood of the mother, recovery from Childbirth is fast and easy.

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