Many women seek out Chinese medicine care for help in getting pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and preparing for birth, but what about after the baby comes--the so-called fourth trimester?
Birth, whether vaginal or surgical, entails a loss of qi (vital life force) and "blood" (as understood in the vocabulary of Chinese medicine, the nourishment, substance, and fuel necessary for life). Caring for a newborn is also depleting.
Ways to replenish qi and blood after birth include:
1. Herbs started as soon as possible after the birth to help clear out the lochia (the bleeding after delivery), boost the mother, and encourage breastmilk production. Herbs are routinely given in Chinese maternity hospitals. These can even be ordered and purchased before the baby comes, so you have them on hand.
2. Nourishing healthy food (click here for some suggestions): The logistics of getting food with a newborn to care for can be daunting. For those without extended family to help, consider cooking and stocking your freezer before the birth, or requesting home-cooked meals or gift certificates to restaurants or meal delivery services (Portable Chef or Fresh Direct for fully-cooked meals; Blue Apron or Plated for meals that require a little assembly) as baby gifts, instead of clothes or gear. Websites such as www.mealbaby.com can help friends and family organize to help new parents.
3. Traditionally babies and new mothers were kept in the house after the birth, in most cultures for at least a month. Given the realities of modern life, this isn't always possible. However prioritizing time to rest and bond is important for both the health of mother and baby. And if you are concerned about your newborn contracting colds, flus, or other infectious diseases keeping him or her at home as much as possible is a good preventative strategy. Help with housework, errands, school pick-ups, etc. may be another "alternative" baby gift you could request.
4. Professional help from your Chinese medicine practitioner: In addition to routine prescribing of herbs after delivery, you may consider Chinese medicine (herbs and/or acupuncture) to help with any of the following conditions.
*Aches, pains, tearing, fatigue, fevers, sweating, and other common issues that may arise right after birth;
*In addition to getting help from a nursing professional, Chinese medicine can treat problems with milk supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, latch problems in the newborn;
*Baby blues and postpartum depression;
*For nursing moms, concerned about medications, Chinese medicine offers a great alternative for many other health issues;
*Finally, there is a special system of acupressure massage specifically for infants that can help improve digestion and sleep in babies, as well as address more acute conditions. We can treat babies using this modality, in addition to offering instruction to parents.
And, if you are in need of postpartum or infant care, please ask about our house-call service.