Acupuncture for New Mums
Many people are familiar with the benefits of acupuncture in pregnancy, but may not be aware of the many ways in which it can be of help during the post-partum period. Having a new baby is magical, but I don't believe anyone will disagree with me when I say that its also some of the hardest work you'll do in life. The post-partum period is a time when a new mother's body is already deplete in blood, vitamins and minerals, following the demands placed upon it in pregnancy and during the birth. Breast-feeding is a job in itself, but it's one you have to get on with while fitting in all the normal everyday household and childcare stuff, all the while suriviving on very small doses of broken sleep. The ideal solution to this would be to adopt the traditional Chinese custom, where new mothers are looked after by family members for one month so that they can concentrate on bonding, breast-feeding and resting. In today's world however, we live in a society where family members are often in far off locations, or simply too busy with their own hectic lives to come and help. What is feasible though, is a little forward planning so that you get what you need at least. What do new mothers need?
- Rest: Take it when you can, turn down no offers of help from friends and family willing to load the washing machine, take over a casserole or bring your older children out for a while.
- Nourishment:This really is not a good time to eat rubbish food. Eggs, bone broth, quality meat and vegetables are very important as is hydration. In order to make milk your body needs plenty of water.
- Gentle exercise: You can only feel better after a short walk or some gentle stretching exercises like Tai Chi or Yoga. Good blood circulation will boost milk production too.
Breast feeding difficulties:
Breast feeding is like a game in which the goalposts keep moving. Just when you feel you are getting a handle on it, baby grows up a little more and something changes. Milk supply can often be a problem. When you think about it, breast feeding is a big task. Blood and milk are essentially the same product- just in different colours-so if your blood supply is deplete following childbirth, or if there is deficiency of Qi, or stagnation of Qi to the breast, milk supply will be slower to get established. Don't let anyone tell you that this means it won't work. That's nonsense. It may be a little slower, though, and you may have to supplement in the first couple of weeks to fill gaps....and only to fill gaps. Breast feeding is all about supply and demand. It's beautifully simple, feed more, supply increases. In the interim, acupuncture can help by building Qi and blood and unblocking the channels which flow through the breast. Should you be unlucky enough to develop mastitis, this is a condition which acupuncture can treat, do try it before you resort to antibiotics which may cause digestive dicomfort for both mother and baby.
Can't get back to sleep after baby's feed? All the interruped bursts of sleep can send your sleep cycle haywire. Acupuncture can help to calm down an overstimulated nervous system so that when you do get an opportunity, you will be able to nod off.
Night sweats? Child birth and breast feeding consume Yin (fluid). Deficient Yin energy means that the body cannot hold the fluid where it should be (in the space between the skin and the muscles) and they leak out. Acupuncture builds Qi to prevent this from happening.
There is nothing so terrifying as knowing that a tiny, precious little person depends on you for everything. While a certain amount of anxiety is normal, keeping it under control makes everyday living so much easier. Being suddenly thrown in to a new and very demanding role can also be a trigger for depression. All of a sudden there is no time for anything except keeping your little bundle well and happy. That can be a huge challenge, especially nowadays when we are used to having anything we want in the blink of an eye. Life with a baby is tricky- all of a sudden fitting in a shower is a challenge. Acupuncture helps to calm anxiety and raise the spirits. It also helps the body to rebuild the resources necessary to enjoy this precious but demanding time.
C- Section Scars
In Chinese medicine scars are seen as energy blocks, preventing the free flow of Qi along the channel(s) where they are situated. Scar treatments can improve the appearance, flexibility and texture of scars, and promote healing.
When I look back on my own post-partum days, the only thing I would change is for me to have known better how to look after myself. There is always time for self care, and it is so important. The benefits of rebuilding a new mother's health and well-being are to the lasting benefit of her baby, her family and, through that window, out into the community as a whole. What could be more important really?
Baile an tSéipéil
Co. na Gaillimhe
Renmore Holistic Centre
1 Renmore Road
© Aran Acupuncture 2017