The 4th Trimester - New Moms Need Care Too
We often focus on care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery – but after the climax of giving birth, we tend to shift our attention to the health of the newborn (which is well intentioned and necessary), leaving the health of new moms at the wayside.
This Western mentality leaves new moms feeling pressured to return to normal routine and function as quickly as possible resuming their previous roles without completely returning to full health. This is part of a common societal perception, an image of moms postpartum being as active and fit as they were previously, and jumping back into the workforce.
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a conference which shared an ancient perspective on postpartum care. Stemming from traditional Chinese practices, the time immediately after birth puts the spotlight on mom!
Postpartum care and management according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, by David Bray, an Oriental Medical Practitioner, is the intentional process for revitalizing and replenishing a depleted, new mom. Traditional Chinese practices call this period "sitting the month" which incorporates dietary and lifestyle modifications to restore a mom's "broken body."
Moms perform a miraculous feat giving birth. It’s amazing what the body is capable of producing, adapting to, and withstanding.
However, moms lose a lot of energy and bodily fluids when giving birth. In Chinese medicine this relates to Qi (energy), and blood (fluids). Therefore, postpartum is when a mother is in her most depleted state.
In traditional Chinese practice, there is great emphasis on postpartum care. There is a dedicated period lasting about a month where we take care of mom. Mom is fed the most nourishing foods and does nothing but rest and feed her newborn.
The rational behind this is to prevent future illness and complicated conditions, which can include postpartum depression.
For new moms, and moms to be, you may find it in your best interest to see how incorporating a 4th trimester, or the postpartum period, as a continuous part of pregnancy, creates a fully holistic experience.
What you can do at home:
Keep warm, avoid cold drafts – this means wearing socks and clothes (no strutting around in your birthday suits until your body recovers, then you can be free). Keep your head and neck covered if going outside.
Wrap your abdomen - use a flannel cloth or stretchy warm material to keep your abdomen warm, help minimize prolapse, and improve your waistline. You can learn more here.
Eat warming foods and drinks - soups, stews, broths are easy for the body to absorb nutrients and more easily provide the body with nourishment. Check out recipes here.
Seriously rest – this is ultimately how you are going to restore your body’s function after such a big event. Avoiding strenuous activity is crucial. Traditionally this even included no housework, yup, new moms get permission according to ancient Chinese practices to delegate ;)
Helpful treatments from your Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner or local Naturopathic Doctor:
Chinese herbal formulas
Being active, fit, and resuming your life are all important things for your health and wellbeing. It may be your goal, but in order to get back into your energetic and vital self, we may want to consider what it takes to replenish first, especially after such a taxing event.
Postpartum care is a time to focus on taking care and replenishing yourself after such a taxing and depleting experience. It is important to do this to prevent complicated illness, and promote optimal pregnancies in the future.
There is so much that can be done to optimize fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care, and you can learn more by making an appointment at the RSNC (we’ve even got a specialty shift dedicated to fertility!)
Disclaimer: This is not meant for self-prescribed medical treatment. Please consult your health care provider to find how to best personalize your care.
Before Completion. The 4th Trimester – Postpartum Care and Recovering According to Chinese Medicien. Bray, David (2017). OAND Presentation.
Hsu Oh, Leslie. (2017). I tried the Chinese practice of sitting the month after childbirth. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
Postpartum Food Recipes - http://taiwanxifu.com/zuo-yuezi-recipes/
Postpartum Soups – http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/confinement-soups/
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
Sitting Moon: A Guide to Rejuvenation after Pregnancy.