Your beautiful bundle of joy has arrived! Your attention and priorities have shifted to care for this new little one, but what often can go neglected between the sleep deprivations and caring for your baby is your own health and recovery after delivery. The toll that pregnancy and delivery takes on your body is incredible and it requires good nutrition, rest and time to recover from it.
To replenish all the nutrition and nutrients used during pregnancy takes about a year and this period is called post-partum. I’ve chosen to discuss a few common concerns that can arise during this period that Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help resolve.
Breast feeding is the most amazing experience for both mom and baby, not to mention the nutritional perfection breast milk is for your baby, however it is not always a smooth road, between the baby learning to latch (—-)on to the breast as well as your body producing and letting down the milk. Lactation issues are a common concern and usually falls into two categories:
1) Problems making enough milk
2) Being engorged (full of milk) but unable to let down milk
These are two different concerns that can be resolved very differently. With insufficient milk production, the cause is a nutritional deficiency. The best way to help produce more milk is to bump up your diet with iron rich foods, such as beef, lamb and deep leafy greens. Also make sure you are continuing to take your iron supplements even post-delivery. In addition to this, Chinese herbal medicine taken as a tea, is a safe treatment for you and your baby and can be a quick effective treatment.
With the inability to let down milk, the most effective treatment is acupuncture. Stress often causes the ducts to be blocked and acupuncture can provide the circulation needed to help decrease stress and anxiety, allowing the body to relax and release the milk. In addition to helping with engorged breasts, acupuncture can also help with treating and preventing mastitis (a blocked duct that causes an infection).
Another major concern that can arise within the first year after birth is depression. Depression can manifest in many forms from mood swings of sadness, anger, frustration and/or anxiety. There are physical symptoms that often accompany it, such as fatigue, body aches or pain and insomnia. This is a serious concern for new mothers and is usually identified by family members as a problem. It is essential for baby and mom’s health that you seek the advise of your family physician. In early cases that are mild to moderate depression, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is an effective means of treatment. The philosophy is that the pregnancy and post-partum period has resulted in a decrease in much needed nutrients in the form of yin and blood. Like the case of insufficient milk supply, diet plays a key role in maintaining health, increasing your intake of meat and leafy greens are essential. Treatment in the case of depression is a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine for a period of 1-2 months. Symptoms should start to lift within a few weeks, but treatment must be maintained to ensure that the depression does not reoccur. Depression is complex and the cause in the case of post-partum is often physical but can also have emotional triggers. Your acupuncturist should work closely with the rest of your healthcare team to ensure your safety and health.
Source: Inside Toronto: Tao of Wellness