By Marika Hall, BA, HDP, R.Ac.
It is believed in Chinese Medicine that proper healing in the postpartum period can lead to a graceful menopause, greater health overall and even recovery from previous illness and chronic dis-ease. In many traditional practices including traditional Chinese medicine, the mother and baby were left from 4 to 6 weeks to recover and build their bond. Family and friends would bring food, clean, keep mom and baby warm and away from cold, wind and the outer world, in order to protect the new family from illness, over exertion and emotional overwhelm. In some cases the mother was not even allowed to bath. Her only job was to eat, rest and learn the language of her new baby. In our modern world we know it is good to bath on occasion and getting some gentle exercise is very important to help in both physical healing and mental well-being. But the general principles behind these practice are still important to keep both moms and babies healthy, encourage recovery and bonding and lead to long term health outcomes.
While most put lots of emphasis on the birth plan and what the nursery will look like, not many think about those tender weeks, months and first year of recovery and transformation, love and grief, confusion and joy. It truly takes a village to support a new family in this period of time and I encourage all my clients to sit down and make a plan in advance. Asking friends and family to help cook food, do chores, run errands and give a family space to find their new groove.
While mothers often look to massage or acupuncture during pregnancy to help ease discomforts and improve health, after the baby comes, mothers often put that self-care aside to focus on the baby. But if the mother is not cared for, the baby suffers too! This is why I offer postnatal community acupuncture at Mothering Touch. You are welcome to bring your baby, and to receive your treatment in community, as you care for, cuddle and feed your baby.
Reducing pain and inflammation
The body’s natural response to going through the hard work of labour, the stretching and sometimes tearing of tissues, the hours of squatting and pushing is to send fluid and immune cells to these tissues to repair them. This insurgence causes inflammation which causes pain. In order to reduce the pain we want to reduce the inflammation by helping the healing of tissues. Good nutrition is key to repairing the skin and building new vessels and cells, especially helpful is bone broth and collagen.
One of my favourite and safest ways to speed healing, reduce inflammation and pain is with acupuncture. Acupuncture works by stimulating neurotransmitters that modulate pain, release tight muscles and helps the body find the optimum path to healing. Ideally, having acupuncture in your home three days after your delivery is best to promote healing and well being.
Keeping the emotions balanced
In TCM, Our emotional well-being is controlled by the liver who is responsible for the smooth flow of all our fluids, mental, emotional and physical energy. So if we get stuck in a mental or emotional rut or don’t move enough our qi becomes stagnated causing the liver to become upset and stagnate further. As we know post birth there has been lots of qi and blood lost and the change in our hormones, sleep schedules and need to rest can lead to further qi stagnation and emotional imbalance.
One of my favourite uses of acupuncture is in balancing the emotions. In fact, in Chinese medicine each emotions is associated with a different organ. Long term emotional imbalance can injure the organs as can injure organs lead to emotional imbalance but lucky it is quite easy to help the qi move smoothly and find the correct path again, relieving anxiety, depression, worry, sadness, fear, shock, anger and over stimulation.
Receiving acupuncture in community with other mothers helps to normalize the experiences of pregnancy, labour and the postpartum. It help us to feel less alone. It creates a safe place we can come back to again and again for healing and restoration.
Find out more about Marika at her website www.marikareidhall.com
Information in this post and on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional.