In traditional Chinese society, a woman was offered a month of rest and full recovery after giving birth. However, in our fast paced world, we might laugh at the thought of a month of self-care, seeing it as selfish or not realistic. However, when you take into account the energy that it takes to carry a baby for nine months, adding in the process of labor, and then turning around to breast-feed, you can see how important it is to rest and regroup post-partum.
According to the ancients, the process of giving birth opens two major meridians (energy pathways): Chong and Ren. With these openings, a woman is more suspect to getting cold and wind. Sounds funny, but cold and wind translate into painful joints, digestive problems, and even depression. Therefore, I often tell any new moms to avoid exposure to cold and wind i.e. watch sleeping and breast feeding by an open window or fan and going outside with wet hair.
While avoiding external cold and wind is important, a new mom should try to select foods and that are warm and nourishing. Cooked foods are of great importance as they are more nourishing and kinder to the digestive system. As a new mom is often tired, foods like rice, sweet potato, mushrooms, and yams are wonderful additions to the diet as they help rebuild qi/energy. And as a new mom can tend toward blood deficiency, foods like corn, sweet rice, dark leafy greens, apricots, avocado, dates, kidney beans, sesame seeds, and eggs are particularly good for building blood.
Ideally, an acupuncture treatment during the thirty-day recovery period proves useful in balancing the body and giving a new mom a chance to rest. Though sometimes timing proves difficult, in which case, an at-home method called mother warming can be an easy balancing home remedy. Mother warming uses a stick of moxi (herb that is burned to create a tonic heat), which is waved over the mom’s abdomen from above the belly button to about five inches below it. The technique can be done one time a day for about 5-10 minutes. As many people don’t like smoke, you can buy smokeless sticks, which still provide benefit. The only times that this technique should not be used is the first three days after the birth, and directly over a fresh C section scar.
The weeks after giving birth are filled with challenges and amazements. In order to meet all, it is paramount to do a little self-care along the way.