9 steps to restore your health post labour

Some of the symptoms a woman may experience post birth include loss of appetite, exhaustion, poor digestion, insufficient breast milk production, sleep deprivation, poor memory and depression. How can this be avoided?

Steps for recovery after childbirth

  1. Ask friends and family to help out: whether it is to look after other children or to cook a meal, pick up some shopping; have the support of your community around you.
  2. Rest, rest, rest when your baby is resting, rest at the same time to give your body a chance to heal after pregnancy and child birth.
  3. Have someone to help with the cleaning.
  4. Hire a trained doula for post-partum care.
  5. Eat warm nourishing foods and stay hydrated, avoid cold foods and drinks.
  6. Do not lift heavy things.
  7. Moxabustion, acupuncture and Chinese herbs to rebuild strength.
  8. Chiropractic care to restabilise pelvis.
  9. Physiotherapy for pelvic floor exercise.

Below is a recipe traditionally used for postpartum recovery using Chinese herbs.

Dang Gui Chicken or Lamb Soup

1 kg chicken or lamb (natural hormone free meat)
3 litres water
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups sliced carrot, celery and other vegetables of your choice
½ inch ginger
30 grams Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica)

Add chicken or lamb to water in a heavy stockpot.  Bring to boil.  Add the onion, celery and carrot then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 1 hour.

Remove meat from broth and shred meat into small pieces.  Strain broth through strainer/sieve and pour back into stockpot.  Add sliced vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 25 minutes.
Add meat and Dang Gui and cook for 10 minutes more.  Remove Dang Gui before serving.

Note – omit the onion if your baby has colic

Rest, ask for help and support from family and friends, consume nourishing warm foods and fluids for recovering after labour and breast milk production.

Nutrition, rest and moderate exercise are important during the months of pregnancy for the health, development and growth of the fetus. They are equally important during the post-partum period when new mothers are recovering from labour, blood loss, breast feeding and taking care of the new born. The care a woman receives in the post-partum period can have a profound effect on her health in the coming years.

The first month after birth and up to 4 months after delivery is the time to take special care of the woman’s health. In many traditions the new mother is often house bound for 4-6 weeks after the birth of a child to ensure full recovery after delivery of a child.

After 4 months the woman is considered fully recovered as the blood has had the chance to replenish and the womb has reduced back to its normal size.

In the early months of pregnancy a woman’s blood increases in volume to be able to support the growing fetus by supplying the placenta with blood and nutrition. Labour and delivery is a monumental exertion of energy and combined with blood loss during labour it can leave the woman very depleted of energy and blood.

Breast milk according to Chinese medicine comes from the same resources as blood.  It is very important to build and support the woman’s health in the post partum period. Nourishing warm foods and fluids need to be consumed for a sufficient supply of breast milk. In some traditional societies the care for the new mother is provided by close family and community members ensuring they are cooked for and fed. All the other chores are taken care of by others. There are still many demands on the health of a woman post-delivery and it is often referred to as the 4th trimester.

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