Post-natal care: Nurturing Mother and Baby through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Principles
I had two very different births in two very different countries – England and China; experiencing myself how the birth and subsequent aftercare of both you and your baby can affect your Emotional and Physical wellbeing - sometimes long after the actual birth. From this experience and subsequently studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, I see how Chinese Wisdom played such a positive role for me as a new mother, ultimately inspiring me to become an Acupuncturist and here I share 5 points of how implementing this wisdom can be of benefit during this time:
1) Do ‘The Month’
Childbirth is physically exhausting and emotionally exhilarating, and this exhilaration offers us an energy that drives us to still try to:
…..not let a baby affect our ability to still do the hundred other things we are used to doing
…..return to work within a few weeks / months
….get our bodies back in shape / look amazing etc…
However, child birth is physically and emotionally draining - depleting the body of a number of reserves (energy, blood) and in no other situation is the level of Physical stress on our bodies - for up to 48hours, without sleep - before then taking on whatever the next 6 -12 months may hold for us - a desirable situation. In China, new Mothers ‘Do The Month’, where they are cared for indoors by their Mothers (In Law), in order that their bodies are given a chance to rest and heal and many similarities can be seen between this and what I see referred to by post-natal experts as the fourth trimester. Staying in more with our new baby limits exposure to (external) factors from outside which given our bodies have been weakened / become vulnerable to infection - given the change and trauma it has gone through over the last 9 months, could result in ill health, whilst promoting bonding with your new baby.
2) Nurture the Mother, to Nurture the Baby
It is so important to accept the depleting nature of pregnancy, labour, the birth, and this depletion continues as we expend energy caring for and (breast) feeding our (often demanding) new baby. Our body requires a period of time to replenish, rebuild and harmonise itself - through rest and appropriate nourishment, and if our internal energies (Qi) can be directed to the organs and areas of the body that need to heal, this may assist with the harmonisation and rebalancing of our body; this is how Acupuncture and associated Chinese therapies work and can benefit post-natal wellbeing; nurturing you so you in turn really enjoy nurturing your baby.
3) Acupuncture point names – clues to treatment
Acupuncture points can be stimulated to address postnatal issues, with some of their names being suggestive of their functions:
Da Bao translates to Big Hug (Sp 21)
Head overlooking Tears (GB15)
AmNian points - meaning Peaceful Sleep are all used to relax and calm the body.
Possible benefits of Acupuncture for post-natal health may include:
Inducing calm and relieving anxiety, which may allow for more restful sleep (as you are able to get it!)Pain relief
Supporting milk production
General nourishment / strengthening of your body
4) Time to feast the TCM way!
By taking into account the Chinese Medicine knowledge of restorative foods, we can add to the positive effects of Acupuncture further and recommend Blood nourishing foods; nourishment of Blood is crucial especially as blood loss will naturally occur with Childbirth. Nourished Blood in turn nourishes your tissues and organs. In addition to the well-known blood nourishing red meats and green leafy vegetables, a type of mushroom - black fungus in addition to medjool dates and dried apricots can offer non-meat options of nourishment and make good snacking options.
5) Moxibustion – the unsung hero of Chinese Medicine
During treatment the use of Moxa, a herb that can be warmed on acupuncture points to nourish your vital energy (Qi) or on larger areas, including the umbilical area and lower back. This is very soothing and can be beneficial to the uterus as it contracts back into normal position, and support the replenishment of the endometrial lining for when your period returns.
Acupuncture offers tailored treatment to you as an individual, during your first session and follow up treatment sessions, your Acupuncturist will get to know you, allowing them to tailor treatment specific to your body - physically and emotionally.
Emotions you feel and express, help 5 Element trained Acupuncturists determine the Acupuncture points to use at any given time. Taking the time to have any treatment is in itself very beneficial - but unfortunately often under prioritised when our new baby takes up all of our time and energy, but by being nurtured ourselves, we invest in the longer-term nurturing of our baby.