Continuing with the last post's topic on the Fourth Trimester and the importance of rest following the birth of a new baby, in this Making Babies post, I explain a bit about the Chinese tradition of 'Sitting the Month' in which a new mom is taken care of for a month after giving birth in order to maintain her longevity and health.
I also offer some Acupuncturist's advice on how to heal postpartum in a modern Western context.
In China, they refer to the month after delivery as “Yue zi” and it is considered a very important time to focus on the new mother’s recovery: physically, emotionally and energetically. It is in this period of time (a minimum of 28 days, or a moon cycle) that a woman can be most vulnerable to pain, depression, and hormonal problems. If she pushes herself too hard after giving birth, it can lead to premature aging, chronic hormonal/emotional imbalances, and other health problems.
This period is called "sitting the month" and traditionally, women stay in bed and just feed the baby and rest. They aren't to do any work of any kind so their bodies can heal and they can regain their energy. During this time, their mother stays with them and basically does every thing for them -- cooking, cleaning, changing the baby, washing the baby, everything!
All that the resting mother does is feed the baby and regain her health. Mother and baby do not leave the house during this time and demanding visitors are not allowed over for a month. Chinese Medicine takes a long term view to health and wellness and argues that the degree to which a woman takes care of herself (and is taken care of) during this period directly affects her continued health, even influencing her experience of menopause.
Although it might be hard to get your mom to come over to do everything for you for a month, you can still have a nurturing postpartum recovery -- below are several simple recommendations to help regain health and balance in the postpartum period.
Postpartum Tips for Regaining Vitality:
Get Ample Rest
Lie down, rest, let the housework & cooking be done by someone else — your partner, your mom, your friend, or hire a cleaner if that is an option for you. Do not push yourself, you want to allow your body to heal or you could end up with long term health issues and premature aging. You don’t want that!
Focus on your baby. Sleep when they sleep. Seriously though, do it. Everything else can wait.
Limit Exertion and Stress
Avoid heavy exercise or sweating. If childbirth wasn’t enough over-exertion, heavy exercise will further deplete an already weakened body. When feeling stronger, try to find time for gentle activities such as walking or yoga to restore the normal circulation of Qi and blood.
Heavy lifting should be avoided for the first four months in order to minimize the risk of uterine prolapse and to allow the pelvic tissues to completely heal and renew. It is said that heavy physical work or exercise shouldn't be resumed until the 4th or 5th month postpartum.
Stay away from cold drafts, cold weather and avoid cold or raw food and drinks. Keep your head and neck covered if needed. Avoid being beside the air conditioner.
In Chinese Medicine, postpartum moms are Qi and blood deficient. Digestion can be poor and there is a great demand for nutritious food in order to form breast milk. Warm, nourishing and easy to digest foods are best. Avoid raw, greasy, cold or frozen foods and drinks. Even cold water is not ideal.
Foods to include:
Click here to check out an excellent pdf on Diet and Postnatal Recovery.
Visit your Acupuncturist
After regaining some strength at home, try to develop a recovery regime in which you take some self-care time to rebuild your body and mind. Visit your Acupuncturist, who is well versed in the ancient form of Chinese Medicine and can help guide you through your recovery. They will use various modalities of healing specifically suited to help you rebuild your Qi and blood, including:
Acupuncture, Moxabustion, Diet & Herbal Therapy, Tuina (Chinese Massage), Cupping & Movement Therapy (Qi Gong), & at home self-care advice.
Click here for more information.
I’m on maternity leave until July 5th — but you can book in with me for Acupuncture now and reserve your space!
Click here to book or call my clinic at (613) 235-7243 for more info.
Want to read more about Chinese Medicine & Postpartum? Check out these resources: