Over the last three blogs we have delved into the various stages of pregnancy and how acupuncture and acupressure can be of benefit throughout the entire fertility and pregnancy journey. Often a forgotten part of the process is the fourth trimester and postpartum wellness. In traditional Chinese culture this is often referred to as ‘zuo yuezi,’ or ‘sitting out the month.’ The Chinese view this time as a time of restriction and rest created to safeguard a new mother’s recovery back to health, and in part to also preserve and improve the family lineage. Many cultures see the 4- 6 week period post birth as an important transition and a time for the mother to focus on her postpartum wellness and bonding with her newborn baby, while being supported and cared for by those around her.
In western culture in some ways there has been a loss of this postpartum recovery time and the belief that women need to rush back to work or back out into the world. Pregnancy and giving birth is one of the biggest physical, emotional and spiritual transitions a woman will go through in her life. While it is such a wonderful and exciting time and everyone wants to meet baby, it is important as a new mum that you focus on supporting yourself and giving your body time to heal. The fourth trimester is an important part of the pregnancy journey and is typically a period of three months postpartum where a new mum should focus on resting, healing and bonding with baby. It really is a period of adjustment for all family members.
The importance of recovery and what to do in the fourth trimester
Post birth I encourage all my clients to lie down and rest as often as possible especially in those first two weeks. Asking for help and learning to receive help from friends and family is so important. It is advisable to limit physical exertion and lifting anything heavier than your baby, this is especially vital for those who have had a caesarean or had any form of tearing. Equally vital is ensuring you are consuming adequate nutrients to aid in your postpartum recovery and to help the body to heal. When giving birth a large amount of blood is lost and this carries vital nutrients from the body which need to be replenished and restored. If you are breastfeeding it is important to ensure you are adequately fuelled and hydrated. Snacks are important and great to have handy even by the bedside for those nightly feeds. The right nutrition also goes a long way in supporting and establishing the health of your baby. Gentle movement or walking if you feel up to it ensuring you stay warm can also be beneficial.
If it is financially possible, I highly recommend getting a cleaner or asking family or friends to help with this. Also organising a meal service or a meal train amongst loved ones so you don’t have to cook during this time will help you with your postpartum wellness. I often suggest this as a great baby shower gift idea- and trust me when the time comes not having to cook and prepare meals will be a very welcomed gift! The idea during this time is to focus on rest, limiting activities and allowing yourself to heal.
Acupuncture postpartum wellness
If you feel up to it anytime post birth acupuncture can be supportive to your recovery, helping to increase the flow of blood and qi (life force energy), supporting your healing while also treating any signs or symptoms you are experiencing post birth. Often woman may experience some bleeding, cramping, postural issues or breastfeeding difficulties. Or may have some tearing or scarring from a caesarean. In acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, we recognise the need for postpartum care, recovery and wellness that is often forgotten in the traditional realm of Western medicine.
Acupuncture and moxibustion can be used during this time to:-
Calm the body and restore your qi (life force energy), vitality and blood flow
Help you recover from tears or c- sections
Assist you with newborn and self-care
Support milk flow if needed
Support your emotional health and wellbeing
I also believe in holding a safe space for my clients to be able to freely chat and express themselves, as giving birth and becoming a mum can often cause heightened anxiety, worry or emotions. If needed I also refer my clients to other resources they can tap into and utilise to help them, their partner and family unit adapt during this time.
When I see new mums for the first-time post birth, I often get to meet baby too, which is such a rewarding experience! A little insider knowledge if you have been seeing me throughout your pregnancy it is very likely that baby will actually already recognise my voice when I meet them. Acupuncture and acupressure can also be used on your new baby to help with any symptoms that they may be experiencing. I also refer to osteopaths or chiropractors than can be of benefit to ensure babies postural alignment and balance post birth.
Postpartum wellness recovery
I really encourage new mums and mums to be to allow time post birth during the postpartum period to rest, heal and recover and ask for and accept help from those around you. If you are feeling up to going out of the home, I do offer acupuncture anytime post birth for both mums and their babies. Remove any expectations on yourself and just allow this time of transition ensuring you have support and space to focus on your postpartum wellness, healing and care as well as bonding with your new baby and your family as a whole. I hope you have enjoyed the mini blog series on pregnancy and acupuncture.