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All Things Health Team
Written by All Things Health Team

Reviewed by Doreen Kee on September 18, 2023

Postpartum Recovery with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Postpartum Recovery with Traditional Chinese Medicine

If you’ve just welcomed a new addition to your family—congratulations!

As you transition from the pregnancy to the postpartum stage, it is crucial to take care of your newborn and yourself. In traditional Chinese culture, this period is popularly known as zuo yuezhi, or “confinement,” where new mothers stay home to restore and rebalance their bodies. Read on to learn more about postpartum imbalances and recovery in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Postpartum Imbalances

According to TCM, maintaining balance in the body is crucial. For this reason, numerous TCM practices and supplements focus on restoring qi and yin-yang balance. For example, the benefits of bird’s nest and Cordyceps in Chinese medicine address the whole body, not singular aspects.

During pregnancy, an individual experiences major hormonal, metabolic, respiratory, circulatory, and physiological changes, leading to imbalances in the body.

Qi and Blood Deficiency

New mothers lose a significant amount of blood and qi during childbirth and breastfeeding. This can result in organs, such as the spleen, becoming overworked, leading to fatigue, reduced appetite, muscle aches, and poor breast milk production.

Yin-Yang and Blood Deficiency

Childbirth can affect the body’s yin-yang balance.

This can partly be attributed to blood loss during labour: because blood is a symbol of heat or yang, the process may cause new mothers to experience extreme yin. This may lead to menstrual irregularities and potential problems with future pregnancies.

Postpartum Care

As childbirth weakens your energy reserves, your immunological and physical health is affected, causing your body to be susceptible to the invasion of cold and dampness. Therefore, TCM emphasises the importance of strengthening and restoring balance in the body. 

Keep Warm and Rest Well

As childbirth is a physically taxing process, it is crucial for new mothers to get as much sleep as possible and avoid performing strenuous activities that tire out the body. Getting sufficient rest will help speed up your body’s recovery.

Additionally, it helps to keep the body warm. You should keep your abdomen covered and dress warmly to protect yourself from the invasion of cold energies. You can also consider using heat packs to facilitate healing and enhance blood circulation.

Keep Warm and Rest Well

It is best for new mothers to rest well and keep warm.

Food and Nutrition

When it comes to TCM, food is medicine because it restores qi, promotes healing, and provides nourishment to the body. As labour and breastfeeding require significant nutrients, new mothers should focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods.

Some foods to consume postpartum include huang qi (astragulus root) and huai shan (Chinese yam). It is also helpful to take broth-based soups, which are rich in protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Moreover, it is best to take warm or yang food that aids digestion and promotes blood circulation. Some examples of such food include ginger, chicken essence, and sweet potato. Conversely, cooling or yang food like bitter melon, cucumber, and clams should be avoided because they may slow recovery.


Acupuncture is an effective way to address qi deficiency. Practitioners study and select the appropriate acupuncture meridians on your body to unblock your qi and restore balance to the body.


During zuo yuezhi, it is crucial that new mothers restore balance to their bodies and recover from the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, it is recommended that you perform postpartum care practices, such as resting well, adjusting your diet, and booking an acupuncture appointment.

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