The importance of the Postnatal time.
Chances are you’ve just given birth when you’re reading this, so congratulations Mama! Or, if you are ready to deliver your little angel soon, congratulations on making it this far.
During the pregnancy, the attention is always heavily placed on how to sustain a healthy pregnancy and preparing the house for the new born. But, taking care of yourself after childbirth is as important as anything else!
The Chinese term Zuoyuezi literally means ‘Sitting the Month’ and applies to the 30 days immediately after giving birth. It is also called “The Golden Month” and this ancient custom is still a highly practised ritual in China. The new mum (whether it is her first child or not) is expected to stay indoors at home and rest – with feet up.
In our Western society this time after birth is not as sacred. We often see new mums getting back into the normal routine of life just a few days after giving birth. We quickly forget the strain that pregnancy has put on the body and the depletion of energy and blood that the birth has caused. To prevent future problems and illnesses it is most important that the new mother practises self-care after child birth.
What to do after childbirth?
Birthing is a very sacred way to welcome the baby to enter the world. At the same time, it consumes a lot of your energy and blood. After childbirth, you will be very tired, may be in pain, and your internal organs are slowly getting back into their normal spaces. Most importantly, you may not be sleeping well because you have to get up every few hours a night to nurse your little one. When you are so depleted with energy and blood, the risk of physical and emotional burn out is substantial.
A great way of nourishing your body and mind is by following the Chinese practise of Zuoyuezi (as mentioned above) for 4-6 weeks after giving birth. It is composed of food and lifestyle advice to support the mum’s body to heal and recover from the childbirth. It is said that if the mother receives good care during this period time, it will be life changing for the rest of her life.
What are the important rules for Zuoyuezi?
- Rest as much as possible.
Resting is the best way for the body to heal , particularly after child birth. It is recommended the mother takes a nap when the baby sleeps. However, it is usually not an easy thing to do as the mother often uses this time to cook and eat, do laundry, wash baby’s bottles, clean the house, or take care of your other kids. Over time, this leads to burn out. It is best that you start thinking about getting extra support before childbirth.
- Stay home and limit visitor visits.
As the mum is often very depleted after the childbirth, her immune system is low. The baby’s immunity is also not fully developed yet, making both the mother and child susceptible for illness. Traditionally it is recommended that the mother and baby stay home for the first month and avoid visitors as much as possible to stay away from possible infections.
- Keep warm especially after shower.
The mothers’ blood circulation is slowed down after birth. It is important to keep warm at all times for the best recovery. According to Chinese tradition the mother is not allowed to shower for 1 month postpartum. The reason being that a shower opens the pores and this makes the mother very susceptible to catching a cold. Thanks to advanced technology, our houses mostly have great insulation and we’re not exposed to wind and cold, so taking shower is no longer prohibited. You just have to make sure you towel dry yourself and blow dry your hair thoroughly before stepping outside the bathroom.
- Eat nutritious food.
Soups and bone broths are highly recommended as the nutrients in these foods are already broken down so they’re easy to digest. For example, chicken soup with sesame oil and pork feet with vinegar and ginger are commonly eaten at Zuoyuezi. During the first few weeks with the newborn baby, there won’t be a lot of time and energy to cook nutritious meals. We often recommended the mother to pre-cook a few batches of soup to put in the freezer before birth, so that there is readily available nutritious food when you need it. Another option is to arrange some support with cooking after childbirth.
There are some fabulous herbal supplements to use after birth to replenish your energy and blood. We absolutely love the “Mama Love Healing Herbs”. You can use them in cooking or brew a nice nourishing tea (both of these can be prepared before child birth and kept readily available in the freezer. We stock them in clinic so let us know when you need some, we can even send them out to you.
- Ask for help.
We understand that it is very easy to forget to take care of yourself when your mind and body are in survival mode and there is a baby to be looked after 24/7. Try and out source as much as possible. Ask your family, relatives or friends to come and help you during this time so that you can have a few hours of rest. Another great option is to get help from a postal natal doula. They come to your home regularly and help you make some nutritious and delicious food, do some chores and make sure you get some rest. Information about our favourite Postnatal Doula in the North-West Sydney area can be found here.
When to get Postnatal Treatment.
After the first 4-6 weeks it is a good time to start nourishing yourself again by getting some acupuncture. It is so valuable to plan some “me” time during which you can rest and recover and make sure your health gets back on track. It is too easy to just say you can’t get any time away from the baby but carving out some time just for you is a great habit to create at this stage. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup and if mum is happy and healthy, usually bub is too!
At this time it is also great to get checked out by an Osteopath. Pregnancy and childbirth usually changes the alignment of your spine and internal organs. Osteopathy is a great way to rectify any problems that have occurred and get properly aligned again. It prevents and solves all kinds of pains and aches.
We love looking after our mumma’s and we usually see them once every 4-6 weeks, unless there is a particular problem that requires more intense treatment for a while. So do yourself a favour and book in your post natal acupuncture or osteopathy visit here.