Modern research on post partum recovery
These days, a woman is usually discharged from the hospital within 24 to 48 hours after a vaginal birth but can be as little as 6 hours post birth. With a c-section birth, generally, women are kept in hospital care for 3 to 5 days. While society puts a lot of emphasis on supporting a woman during pregnancy and the birthing process, a woman might often feel unsupported in the first few weeks after birth. Often, she is being left to teach herself all the things around the baby with little to no time to recuperate from the strains of giving birth.
In ancient times, more importance was attributed to the first month after birth and it was considered crucial in determining the later health of the mum and the baby. Traditionally called “sitting the month”, this time was indispensable to recuperate and reclaim strength. Ideally, the new mum would rest, stay at home, not expose herself to wind and cold, or people. She would be supported by her own mother who would cook warm meals for her and give her massages. Traditionally, this aimed at her longevity and avoiding negative consequences.
And even though times have changed – and your own mum may or may not be able to be around you for many weeks – there are still many ways to ensure you can rest and be nourished, which is essential for your recovery and overall health.
Why is this still so important?
Your body has been growing and supporting a baby for the last 9 months. By giving birth, a lot of heat and qi from the baby (Yang) is lost alongside with blood and fluids and essence (Yin), which can make you feel very depleted and raw. We suggest you take some time in the last weeks of pregnancy, to get organised. Because when you feel supported, it will be easier for you to support your little baby:
· Find someone to help with the household chores for the first four weeks, so you can focus on your baby.
· Avoid having people coming over in the first few weeks or decide according to how you feel. You may even want to be proactive and invite them for a later time, like a sip and see party.
· If your best friends ask you what they can bring you, suggest a home-cooked soup or some nourishing cookies, or anything that goes into the freezer – ready for you to heat up when you need it.
· Create a list of all the paper work related to having a baby and ask your partner to take care/help you follow up.
· Eatwarm, home-cooked foods. Have someone to cook for you and have lots of foods in your fridge or freezer that you can easily warm up. Your food needs to benourishing, for example:
· Have plenty of healthy snacks available: These could be mungbean-chicken muffins, other savoury muffins (warmed up) sweet potatoes, boiled eggs, black bean cake, oats cookies – very practical, because you can eat these one-handed while holding little bub 😉
What else is needed?
· Resting, sleeping and time for yourself and meditation will go a long way.
· Schedule weekly post-partum treatments for your recovery:
- In TCM, the process of giving birth can establish a feeling of cold in the lower body. As cold blocks the flow of energy, we use gentle techniques, such as needle-moxa or cupping-moxa to re-establish the warmth in your body.
- Acupuncture can also support you mentally and emotionally. It is not uncommon for the new mum to develop feelings of depression, such as feeling sad, hopeless or empty, being overwhelmed, crying for no apparent reason and doubting her ability to care for her baby (National Institute of Mental Health, 2019). Research has shown that acupuncture, in combination with psychological therapy, was as effective as the intervention of the control group which was treated with the drug fluoxetine hydrochloride (Huang, Li, Su, & Lu-shan, 2014)
National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved April 4, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/postpartum-depression-brochure_146657.pdf
Huang, Han-ling, Li Peng, Su Zheng, and Lu-shan Wang. “Observation on therapeutic effects of acupuncture plus psychological intervention for postpartum depression.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 12, no. 6 (2014): 358-361. Retrieved April 4, 2019, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11726-014-0805-7