Tips for Postpartum Health
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are several different postpartum states that are to be addressed for optimal healing and well-being. Here is a brief overview of these states, some of the imbalances which may occur and nutrition and lifestyle suggestions to bring health back in balance*
Qi and Blood deficiency occurs from the loss of blood and energy during childbirth, as well as from the expenditure of energy and blood in the production of breast milk and the general lack of sleep a new mother may experience.
*The Spleen holds everything up and in. A mother’s Spleen energy becomes weaker at the end of the pregnancy to allow for the baby to descend and exit the uterus. A postpartum Spleen Qi deficiency may lead to prolapses such as hemorrhoids or prolapsed uterus.
* Yin and Blood deficiencies often manifest as constipation, headaches, anxiety and/or difficulty sleeping postpartum.
* Cold in the Uterus may lead to blood stasis in the Lower Jiao, clots, slowing of the lochia, low back pain, postpartum depression and possible future issues with menstruation or pregnancy.
The main source of healing postpartum comes from proper nutrition and rest. It is very important for a new mom to take as much rest as possible (traditionally in Asia, women would stay in bed for 30 days after childbirth), to stay warm and avoid over-exertion. Avoid draft, keep neck, ankles, wrists and lower abdomen/lower back warm and covered. Eat smaller meals and snacks every 2 - 3 hours.
Foods to support Postpartum Health: (please choose organic, grass fed, pesticide free foods as much as possible):
Eat easily digestible foods to give the Spleen and Stomach a break - warm, cooked foods. Drink a small cup of tea/bone broth or warm water with your meals. NO ICE OR COLD food or drinks.
Qi & Blood support: red meat, organ meat, fish, eggs, collagen, bone broth*, lentils, beets, cherries, greens;
Yin fortifying foods: barley, millet, rice, wheat, quinoa, amaranth, seaweed, string beans, black beans, kidney beans, animal protein, bananas, grapes, blackberries, blueberries.
Warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, fennel, garlic, nutmeg.
Acupuncture is generally started 2 weeks after childbirth to strengthen the mother’s energy, to help perineal healing, to assist with breastfeeding issues and to balance emotions. Moxabustion can be started 3 -4 days post childbirth. It helps to keep the uterus warm, to tonify the body and build breast milk supply and with cesarean section scars.
Please speak with a Registered TCM practitioner to learn more about how TCM can support your postpartum health!
Lisa D. Theodore