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Promoting Postpartum Recovery With Chinese Medicine Food Therapy

The Importance of Proper Postpartum Recovery

Eastern and Western cultures share common approaches to self-care for the mother and newborn in the postpartum period- promoting nutrition, hydration and rest, and avoiding infectious exposures. This is further reinforced in the Chinese tradition, in which a set of diet and lifestyle restrictions may be practised after birth, to restore the woman's "broken body". This stems from the belief that childbirth brings significant amounts of fluid and blood loss. According to Chinese medicine, blood carries "Qi", the "life force" that powers all the functions in the body. When you lose blood, you lose Qi, and this causes your body to go into a state of yin (cold). When yin (cold) and yang (hot) are out of balance, your body will show physical disorders. According to acupuncturist Lia Andrews, author of "The Postpartum Recovery Program", many mothers rush back to their daily routines after birth, expecting for full recovery without any assistance, however, some may instead never fully recover from having children. Some may suffer from depression, lack of libido, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, inability to conceive more children and other complications.

Chinese Medicine Perspective on Postpartum Recovery

In Chinese medicine, we pay attention to the Spleen and Stomach, which are important organs for digestion, that are responsible for transforming food into Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. If our digestion is working properly, we will benefit from the nutritious food that we eat. If it is working poorly, we will not benefit from the food we eat, no matter how nutritious it is, because the Spleen and Stomach are not able to do their job and transform food into the nutrition required by the body. When the Spleen and Stomach Qi is strong, this would help with strengthening our immune system and build our stamina that is important for recovery.

Food + Tips to Help with Supporting the Digestive System for Postpartum Recovery

  • Eat warm, cooked food such as soups and stews.

  • Drink room temperature water and never cold water/ drinks, as they will put out the digestive fire.

  • Eat meals/ snacks every 2-3 hours to avoid overwhelming your digestive system.

Qi & Blood Nourishing Foods

  • Clean animal protein (chicken, pork, fish)

  • Black beans

  • Green leafy vegetables

  • Bone broths

  • Egg yolks

  • Whole grains

  • Red fruits (strawberries, raspberries)

Yin nourishing foods

  • Clean seafood

  • Barley and millet

  • Dark coloured beans

  • Tofu

  • Animal products (fish, duck, pork, eggs)

  • Soups and fluids

Yang nourishing foods

  • Chicken

  • Lamb

  • Onions

  • Black beans

  • Nuts

In addition to supporting the digestive system through food therapy for postpartum recovery, it is also important to find ways to address any physical and emotional imbalances during this period, whether it is disrupted sleep, stress, or irregular postpartum periods, to promote better adjustment for the mother's body as a whole. For more information, feel free to visit our clinic or contact our practitioners on (02) 9635 1715.

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