Updated: Apr 16, 2018
Post-partum traditionally refers to the time immediately after childbirth, a time filled with a combination of curiosity, concern and stress, as well as new beginnings.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that following child birth a women’s condition is very vulnerable, and much care will need to be taken to ensure that new mothers eat well and has plenty of rest.
So much emphasis is put on what you should and shouldn’t do while you are pregnant, but we believe that not enough information is provided on how to look after yourself after labor. A mother needs to be healthy in order to look after her new addition.
Because of the demands of childbirth, significant blood is lost during and after labor. This leads to a deficiency of blood and therefore leads to chronic tiredness and fatigue. This in turn leaves the immune system very susceptible to disease, and in a lot of cases it is the main cause of Post-Natal depression.
With TCM, childbirth is seen as a deficiency of QI (Vital Energy) and Blood. In TCM we consider that all women suffer from some form of Post-Partum QI or Blood deficiency.
Women loose a lot of Blood and QI during and after Childbirth, this leaves organs including the Spleen (producer of blood), Liver (storer of blood), Heart (commander of Blood) all deficient because of this loss. This can cause disharmony within the body
The Signs and symptoms of Qi and Blood deficiency are:
1. Tiredness, fatigue
2. Pale skin, complexion
3. Weakness of limbs
4. Dizziness, light-headedness
5. Poor appetite
6. Blurred vision
8. Poor memory
10. Loose stools
11. Pale tongue
12. Weak pulse
If this Qi and Blood is not replaced it can potentially lead to complications. These can either show early on or years later and can potentially have an effect when trying for more children.
The first system that we need to pay attention to during postpartum recovery is the spleen and stomach, our digestion.
According to Chinese medicine, when our spleen and stomach Qi are strong, we will feel energetic and clear-headed. We also worry less and have a stronger immune systems and more stamina. And you will be less prone to what we call ‘Damp pathologies’ such as yeast infections, which can lead to thrush in you and your baby.
Here are some tips to help you heal and support your digestion, especially during the first few weeks after giving birth when your digestion is the most compromised:
Eat mostly warm, cooked foods that are easy to digest like soups and stews
Make sure whole grains are well-cooked and easy to digest
Drink a small teacup of warm water, broth, or tea with your meal
Use warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, nutmeg, black or white pepper, cardamom, orange peel, and fennel
Eat small meals and snacks every 2-3 hours so as not to overwhelm your digestion
Drink room temperature water between meals so it doesn’t dilute your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and never drink ice water with your meals, which will put out your digestive fire
Consider taking a high quality digestive enzyme and probiotic
Lower your stress level by asking for help
Walk, move about and gently exercise, but never to the point of exhaustion.
Here is a list of foods that will help with your recovery, you can start slowly by adding a few each day to your diet, if you find you don't like some, than try others. I have provided recipes that include a number of these base foods in other blogs on this site, so try and see what tastes nice to you.
Black boned chicken
Beef Lamb Eggs Offal (Liver, heart, kidney etc) Plums Black Grapes or Black Grape Juice Tomatos Cherries Yams Chinese vege (All) Beetroot Kidney beans Black beans GINGER Spinach Black Soya Beans Lotus seeds
Understanding you and your baby's needs Post-partum, and working to help you through this new and wonderful period, is just one of the many ways Traditional Chinese Medicine is different but is complimentary to Western Medicine.
Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here