Post Natal Recovery
“The art of asking for help”
Six weeks ago we met our new little man, Marlow. As a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, I was pretty keen to put my knowledge into action to have the best recovery I could. In the month following the birth of my second son, we followed the Chinese principles of “Postpartum Confinement” or “Sitting the Month”, albeit with a bit of modern twist. This is a one month period (sometimes longer) of total rest to ensure the best possible recovery after childbirth.
This meant no trips to the supermarket (hooray!), sleeping as much as possible (hooray!) and generally having a month-long pyjama party. I ate nourishing foods and herbs that strengthen blood and qi such as chicken soup and bone broths, and basically left all the chores and everything else to others (including the dishes – again hooray!).
It is hard to ask for help, however if I was ever going to do it, this one month was the time. It became apparent quite quickly that when babies are involved everyone actually wants to help. We were fortunate to have family and friends who dropped off food every now and then and helped out with our 4 year old and dog.
“This practice shows that pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period are not considered ‘business as usual’.”
The aim of this month is to aid recovery from childbirth, promote lactation, bonding and to help prevent postpartum illnesses. In fact, it is said that pre-existing diseases can be cured during this time, or new diseases can be created (some even much later in life).
There are some finer traditional principles to the practice that we adapted to our modern Australian world.
• I did shower and wash my hair a few times (definitely no cold, wet hair allowed).
• I did avoid drafts and cold breezes.
• I did eat plenty of chicken soup and only ate warm foods and drinks.
• I did get out of bed and venture out into the garden once or twice, however only on warm, still days.
• We did have some visitors though it was not my job to cook for or entertain them.
• My mother-in-law did not stay for a month and provide all of the care. This was entrusted more to a mixture of help from family and friends.
“a healthy, happy mother makes for a healthy, happy family”
So how do I feel?
My experience is far from scientific research, but I do actually feel very well rested and recovered and can now get through the day without naps (mostly). Although in China and surrounding countries you would find a much stricter experience (no visitors, no showers, staying in bed), I think it is important to consider the basis of such postpartum practices and to find what aspects we can adopt here in Australia.
This practice shows that pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period are not considered ‘business as usual’. It is exhausting creating human life and a healthy, happy mother makes for a healthy, happy family. By resting and focusing on a proper and thorough recovery, we emphasise illness prevention. Let’s not wait until you get sick, exhausted or depressed, let’s try to prevent that from happening.
So needless to say, my pre-baby body is a long way off and I’m definitely not on top of things. But I’m not supposed to be. I’m supposed to be engrossed in a little human’s smile and smell and that’s about it.
Renee KnottRenee is a qualified and registered Doctor of Chinese Medicine with over a decades experience. Renee uses Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Diet and Lifestyle strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of her patients and family. Currently on Maternity Leave, Gina Pilven has stepped in to continue providing great natural health care. Gina is available for treatments on Tuesdays and Saturdays.