Post Partum Care for Mom and Baby
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. During this period many mothers may experience concerns with lactation or with post-partum depression. That’s why it is essential to provide post-partum care for mom as soon as possible.
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.
Frequently Asked Question
What is postpartum depression?
Symptoms may include:
- Irritability or hypersensitivity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and worry
- Crying or tearfulness
- Negative feelings such as sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Difficulty sleeping (especially returning to sleep)
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Headaches, stomachaches, muscle or backaches
What is postpartum anxiety?
If you’re having recurrent feelings of intense worry or panic, you may have a postpartum anxiety disorder. Anxiety symptoms usually appear in the first two to three weeks after the birth of a baby, but may not reach a distressing level until several weeks later.
- Extreme anxiety or irritability
- Restlessness and agitation
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains or discomfort
- Sensation of choking or smothering
- Tingling in hands or feet
- Trembling and shaking
- Hot or cold flashes
- Fear of dying, of going crazy, or of losing control
What causes depression after childbirth?
There is no single cause for post-partum depression but is a combination of hormonal, biochemical, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors.