Postpartum care can be overwhelming for new moms. During this time, you’ll need to prioritize your recovery while also caring for your infant.
Additionally, many mothers who give birth in the United States only have 6 weeks before returning to work full-time. Therefore, you’ll need an efficient plan that best suits your needs.
Below, we’re sharing a postpartum care plan for you and your little one as you embark on a new and very exciting adventure together.
Postnatal Care for Your Health
Postpartum care in America is complicated. Many women have to go back to their lives (work, school) after 6 weeks of delivery. Some people have help from doulas or night nurses; whereas others have more time to recovery.
You’ll likely still be in the hospital after the first 24 hours. During this time, sleep as much as you can and bond with your baby – via breastfeeding or holding them. This is also a good time to learn how to swaddle your baby and ask the nurse any questions about breastfeeding or bottle feeding. They will also be on-hand to check your vital signs, wounds, postpartum blood – also known as lochia – and your breasts. They will also conduct checks on your baby, including body weight, temperature, signs of jaundice, urination, and bowel movement.
In addition, the nurse will also guide you on different aspects of postpartum and postnatal care. These include breastfeeding, newborn care, nutrition, wound care, and gentle exercises.
Postpartum Care Plan Using TCM
Doctors typically give new moms the ok to resume normal activities after 6 weeks. Some people might not heal so rapidly that you can consider an after-birth recovery plan using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Chan Ru or Zuo Yue – a traditional Chinese practice of bed rest for 6 to 8 weeks after childbirth.
Many of these practices have been used for centuries, passed down by generations. The most common alternative treatments are manipulative body therapy, including acupuncture, massage, body wrapping, and herbal medicine.
TCM believes that childbirth causes a deficiency in the blood, qi, and yin, and blood stasis. “New mothers can consume a Sheng Hua decoction within a few days after delivery to remove any blood stasis and clots, improve circulation, disperse “cold”, and support the expelling of vaginal discharge,” says Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Ho Li Ying. This well-known traditional Chinese herbal formula can also help the uterus return to its normal size. It can also prevent the postpartum collection of blood in the uterus (hematoma).
Some Chinese mothers stay at home throughout their postpartum period and avoid bathing or using fans. After a few weeks, mothers may bathe in naturally cooled warm water mixed with herbs. Mothers should also avoid the consumption of vegetables during confinement since most of them are categorized as “cold”. It’s best to consume foods that can help expel “wind” or warm up the mother’s body, such as old ginger, ginseng, and tea with red dates to nourish the blood.
During this period, new moms should wear comfortable clothing to ensure proper airflow in the house. If the weather permits, keep the windows open for fresh air to circulate and to avoid and mold bacteria growth.
Postpartum Wellness for New Moms
To aid in healing, new moms can also use traditional practices like TCM or Chan Ru as a part of their recovery. There are customized 28-days confinement packages available that can help new moms to recover from childbirth.
Below, is an outline of how to care for yourself during the first few months.
- Month One: This is considered the rest month. New moms rest as much as possible and not perform any strenuous activities. The old adage, sleep when the baby sleeps couldn’t be more true during this period. It is also advisable to get help from a nurse or postpartum doula during this transition. TCM also recommend to not go outside and to pay attention to vaginal discharge, which should be complete in around 6-8 weeks.
- Month Two: You may start to feel like yourself during this period where you can perform light house work and start to resume gentle exercise like Yoga, Pilates, or Qigong. Make sure that your doctor performs an examination of your body to ensure that you’re ready to exercise.
- Month Three: Typically, you can resume your normal activities. This can be a great time for a new mom who can enjoy taking walks with their baby and enjoying time outdoors.
Postpartum Nutrition for New Moms
Nutrition is key both before and after your baby arrives. This includes drinking an ample amount of water, consuming Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, iron-rich foods, and a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. A calming cup of tea can also help, especially when you get the baby to sleep.
According to TCM, mothers can consume a Ba Zhen decoction as a daily meal and herbal teas prepared using Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula) and jujubes to nourish blood and qi during the confinement period.
Some great foods for postpartum nutrition include whole grains like oats or millet, protein-rich foods like salmon, vegetables like Chinese yams, and fruits like cherries and apricot. However, not all fruits are suitable for the postpartum period, according to the TCM perspective. Avoid fruits that are cold in nature — like bananas, grapefruits, watermelons, sugarcane, tomatoes, star fruits — which can affect the healing process of new moms.
Breastfeeding mothers are also advised to eat 2-3 times per day to keep their supply up. Interestingly, breastfeeding requires extra calories so you want to make sure that you have healthy snacks and foods for yourself.
Alternatively, postpartum care also involves several lifestyle changes and restrictions. For example, mothers should abstain from sexual intercourse during the first 4-6 weeks after delivery. This allows for recovery and healing of the vagina, and other bodily functions. New mothers should also abstain from drinking alcohol and caffeine.
Understanding Postpartum Depression
New moms also have to contend with the ups and downs of their emotions, which can be erratic after the baby is born. While many women experience the “baby blues,” others experience a more severe condition called postpartum depression. In fact, studies show that 1 in 7 women may experience postpartum depression. Women who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder are 40% more likely to experience PPD. Globally, 1 out of 5 women suffers from PPD.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth. Symptoms may include an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, extreme sadness, anxiety, and inability to bond with the newborn. This typically occurs 6 to 8 weeks after childbirth but can last longer. This can greatly impact your ability to take care of yourself and your baby.
Even though medical treatment programs can help a new mother reduce depression levels, many don’t seek professional help when they experience PPD symptoms because they are ashamed or afraid. However, when left untreated, these symptoms can worsen over time, leading to chronic depression. In these instances, you should see a doctor or medical professional for immediate care.
Healing During the Postpartum Phase
Since the mind and body are going through so many changes during this period, it’s important to adhere to a recovery plan and not rush “getting back to normal.” Our culture does make it difficult for new moms, especially if you have to return to work. In these instances, use all of the time that you do have to take care of yourself and your baby.
Additionally, wellness practices can go a long way to ease the symptoms of postpartum depression. These include performing deep breathing exercises, listening to calming music, reading a book, or regularly communicating with family members or a therapist.
When your baby is sleeping or when you have an extra hand, take a calming herbal bath. After the bath, use calming essential oils – such as lavender – to help you unwind and alleviate stress.
Mothers can also experience anxiety due to insufficient breast milk supply. To synchronize your milk supply with your baby’s needs, you should breastfeed your baby only when they are hungry. Doing so will also enable you to establish intimacy with your baby.
Giving birth is incredible but can also present many hardships to a new mother. Postpartum care is critical to ensure your physical and mental well-being so that you can take good care of yourself and your new baby. Follow a plan that focuses on your wellness with your doctor, TCM physician, midwife, or your gynecologist to ensure that you’re prepared for life after childbirth.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Healing Center. 2020. Postpartum Care with TCM: How to Optimize the Health of You and Baby. [Accessed on December 1, 2021]
- CDC. 2020. Depression Among Women. [Accessed December 1, 2021]
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 2020. Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers. [Accessed December 1, 2021]
- Postpartum Depression. 2021. Postpartum Depression. [Accessed December 1, 2021]
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Healing Center. 2020. Postpartum Care with TCM: How to Optimize the Health of You and Baby. [Accessed December 1, 2021]
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