In our fast paced culture of constant ‘doing’ it’s a big adjustment when you have a baby. The expectations on women to ‘bounce back’ can be crippling to the repair and rest that must be taken at such a pivotal and influential time for a women’s health. Taking this time to rest after birth can have huge impacts on the current and future health of the women. So why is it so important? And how do we nourish and support the post natal mother back to health? Below are some of the key areas we can support women and why this support is imperative.
Rest is so important to allow the body to recoup. Childbirth and labour is a lot more than a marathon, what it is commonly compared to! Huge hormonal and physical changes are taking place, effecting every organ. The uterus takes roughly 6 weeks to heal, and the heart can take almost a month to rise back to normal. On top of this, you’re entering broken sleep territory, while producing breast milk – which takes a tonne of energy. Rest should be prioritised, allowing the mother to sleep when the baby does. And to have a plan for other household duties to be taken care of.
Massage can be more beneficial than exercise at this point, as exercise will use much needed healing energy. Massage can be seen as a valuable way of stimulating circulation, which can be slower after childbirth due to a few factors. Using heat with the massage further enhances the therapeutic effect. In some cultures using warm oils or warm towels. As a women is encouraged to rest post birth, massage can also aid in mental benefits of what exercise would normally deliver. Acupuncture can have similar effects for relaxation and circulation.
Mother Warming is another important aspect of nurturing the mother. When a body is depleted it is easily chilled. In many Asian cultures, a warming herb called moxa (or mugwart) is commonly burned over the lower tummy a week after vaginal birth and 2 weeks after a c-section, and along the lower back.
Even in hot climates, there is an emphasis on keeping the body warm and keeping these specific areas warm, where it is said the ‘original heat of the body is stored’.
Nutritional support and enough fluid is probably an obvious one! A good postpartum diet is easy to achieve, being a restorative diet, with attention on nutrient-rich foods which are physically warm and warming in nature, meaning it creates warmth. Meeting the demands of healing tissues and increased energy needs with breastfeeding. Starting the day (between 7am-9am) with your largest meal, is ideal when the stomach energy is circulating at its strongest. Having your next largest meal at lunch and lightest at dinner (but still substantial), if you are hungry at night and needing to eat during feeds, lighter snacks, such as a handful of almonds, or honey on toast and warm teas is advised to allow your digestive system to rest. There are many great Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal formulas that are recommended in third trimester to get ready for delivery and for post natal to aid in healing the reproductive organs, building the blood and nourishing the mother.
The above is broad advice that will hopefully help guide a good postnatal plan. Along with giving some motivation and understanding as to the importance of why having a post natal plan is so important to the healing mother. Traditionally, the rest period is advised for the first month or 40 days. For more information on how we can support your health leading up to and following birth, book in with any of our experienced practitioners.