The month after giving birth is called ‘the golden month’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and it is of utmost importance that the mother along with the newborn, get exceptional care during this time. So often in western society mothers are ‘back at it’ at rapid speed heading outside, socializing and moving around much too quickly. During childbirth (both natural and caesarian) women loose a lot of blood and Qi (vital energy), which depletes them. The first few months after birth are crucial in replenishing this blood and Qi. Things as simple as rest (a lot of it), eating nourishing and warming foods (think of foods that help recovery from an illness: chicken soup, warm easy to digest soups and stew, blood building foods like high quality meats, beets, leafy greens) and keeping warm, particularly the feet, by always wearing sock or slippers as not to expose the body to cold which can be damaging are extremely beneficial. By avoid excessive cold, both in food and environment, the body is able to recover faster and more effectively which can contribute to vital things such as adequate milk supply.
For it is said that in the months following childbirth the mother is more open than ever therefore, if she is able to take exquisite care of herself, she may be able to strengthen her health so significantly that previous illnesses (allergies, eczema etc) can actually heal and disappear. Conversely, if a women fails to take good care of herself (or allow the people around her to do so – no better time to insist on a little tender loving care from those around you), problems can arise.
Postpartum depression is a serious condition but fortunately there is a lot that can be done to prevent depression, or address it if a mother is already suffering from the blues. In TCM theory depression can arise from excessive blood loss during the birthing process. A recent study published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for depression in pregnant women also finding it to be effective for postpartum depression as well. In addition to acupuncture, herbal supplements for a few months after birth can be a highly effective tonic to prevent and/or address postpartum blues as well as other postpartum worries such as pain and discomfort, depression, hemorrhoids or breast milk supply. Remember simple things can make a big difference and if you’re having more significant challenges you should seek the help of a Chinese Medicine Doctor or other health practitioner. There is a lot that you can to do heal and feel better, and when you feel good, that’s ultimately good for your new baby too.