Becoming a mother is a journey filled with excitement and joy. But no matter where you are in the journey, you’re likely to experience some health challenges along the way. Chinese medicine for moms is a natural way to get the support and balance you and your baby need to thrive.
You may have heard of Chinese medicine as a treatment for stress or back pain. However, did you know it can serve as a way to boost moms’ health before, during, and after childbirth?
Let’s explore the benefits of Chinese medicine for moms. Plus, look at how to use these powerful remedies to enhance self-care at any phase of motherhood.
What is Chinese Medicine?
Chinese medicine is an ancient healing system that has been used for thousands of years. It’s based on the concept of qi, or vital energy, which flows through the body in channels called meridians. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when qi is flowing freely, we are healthy and feel well. When qi is blocked or deficient, however, discomfort and illness can develop.
TCM works holistically by treating a pattern of imbalance, rather than a disease or symptom. For instance, two moms struggling with postpartum depression may have very different treatments and lifestyle recommendations. It’s all based on their unique experiences.
Typical Chinese Medicine Traditions
When most people think of Chinese medicine, acupuncture springs to mind. But acupuncture is just one modality in the Chinese medical system. A variety of techniques are used to help balance and restore the flow of qi in the body and promote well-being. Here are some of the most commonly used Chinese medicine traditions that can help you find balance:
Acupuncture is a therapy that inserts thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body. These points correspond to different organs and systems in the body. And the stimulation of these points is thought to help balance the flow of energy (qi) and promote healing. Acupuncture can be helpful for reducing pain, relieving stress, balancing hormones, improving sleep, and addressing postpartum issues like fatigue, depression, and lactation problems.
Moxibustion is the burning of dried mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) over specific acupuncture points or areas of the body (such as the lower belly or feet). The burning mugwort does not touch the skin, but the warmth of the burning moxibustion (as well as properties from the oils released from the mugwort plant) stimulates circulation, relieves pain, boosts the immune system, and supports overall wellness. Moxibustion is a deeply tonify therapy commonly used in TCM postpartum care to restore a new mom’s energy and vitality.
Chinese herbal medicine uses natural substances like roots, leaves, flowers, and minerals to promote balance from within. Herbal formulas are typically tailored to the individual’s specific needs and can be taken as teas, tinctures, pills, or powders. For women’s health issues that conventional medicine struggles to improve (such as endometriosis, infertility, and postpartum depression), herbal remedies offer a safe and effective alternative. Herbs can also be used to support breastfeeding, ease pain, and promote relaxation and better sleep.
Similar to herbal medicine, TCM dietary therapy uses natural herbs, foods, and cooking methods to help the body return to a state of healthy balance. Food is considered a powerful healing tool. Especially for new moms who need extra care and nourishment to restore their body’s energy levels. Like all TCM therapies, food therapy is highly customized to each person. But in general, new moms may benefit from warm, nourishing foods like bone broth, congees, eggs, and dark leafy greens. And keep in mind that cold and raw foods are believed to slow the healing process and should be avoided.
How Do Acupuncture and Other Chinese Medicine Treatments Work?
From a TCM perspective, acupuncture and other Chinese medicine treatments work by restoring balance in the body. This is often through stimulating the flow of qi and blood or supporting the body in rebuilding its resources.
But what does the science say? While we don’t yet fully understand exactly how acupuncture and herbal medicines work, what modern research has discovered is that acupuncture supports our health by triggering these physiological mechanisms:
- Acupuncture releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can help to alleviate pain and promote feelings of well-being.
- Acupuncture tempers our physiological stress response to help promote relaxation, reduce high cortisol levels, and keep our other hormones in check.
- Acupuncture has anti-inflammatory effects that boost the immune system and prevent tissue damage.
- Chinese herbal medicine and dietary therapy support a wide range of organ functions, as different herbs and foods contain various compounds and nutrients that promote healing and balance.
Chinese Medicine and Postpartum
Becoming a new mom is one of the most joyous–and challenging–experiences in life. While you adjust to life with a new baby, it’s essential to take care of yourself as well. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the postpartum period (or “fourth trimester”) is considered a crucial time for healing. In fact, how well you support your body during this time is believed to set the stage for your health through motherhood. Including your ability to carry another healthy baby in the future and how gracefully you’ll transition into menopause.
One of the most important concepts in Chinese medicine for moms is the practice of “sitting the month” or “confinement.” Also called “zuo yue zi” in Chinese, this is a period of rest and recovery that lasts four to six weeks after giving birth. During this time, new moms are encouraged to rest as much as possible. That includes avoiding strenuous physical activity, and staying warm and nourished.
A healthy diet that helps build qi and blood is essential during the postpartum period. New moms are encouraged to eat warm, nourishing foods that are easy to digest, such as soups, stews, and congee. Certain TCM herbal formulas (such as the postpartum classic sheng hua tang) are also used during this time to heal the uterus and restore energy. It’s also essential to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. As well as to avoid cold, raw, or spicy foods that can be taxing on the digestive system.
Chinese Medicine Remedies For Moms To Try At Home
Chinese Medicine for moms can turn what can sometimes be a challenging transition period into a time of profound transformation and growth. By incorporating the wisdom of Chinese medicine into your self-care routine, you can support your body’s natural healing processes and promote overall well-being.
Even if you don’t have the luxury of “sitting the month” or a trusted local acupuncturist, there are many ways you can practice Chinese Medicine self-care for moms right at home:
Try “mother roasting”
“Mother roasting” is a Chinese medicine postpartum practice that uses warming therapies to support a new mother after giving birth. The practice typically involves the use of heat therapy, moxibustion, massage, and herbal remedies to help the body recover and regain strength.
Moxibustion is best practiced with the help of a trained professional. But you can still enjoy the benefits of mother roasting with other heat therapies. Try this at home by wrapping warm towels or heated herbal packs around the abdomen and lower back. This helps improve blood circulation and reduce pain and discomfort. You can also take warm baths, just be sure to dry off and layer up quickly to keep warm afterward. While this practice is most commonly recommended for new moms, it can benefit moms of any age who need a little extra relaxing support.
Learn a few acupressure points
Acupuncture can be a mom’s secret weapon against tension, stress, and fatigue. But whether you’re “sitting the month” or chasing after bigger kids, it’s not always easy to carve out this time for dedicated self-care. By pressing these key acupressure points for 20-30 seconds a few times per day, you can enjoy the benefits of acupuncture from the comfort of your home.
- Du 20 – located at the top of the head, Du 20 helps revive your senses and beat brain fog. This point can also improve headaches, stress, and overall mood.
- Large Intestine 4 – struggling with constipation? Headaches and irritability? Overwhelming stress? Many moms do, no matter how old their children are. LI 4 (located on the hand, between the thumb and index finger) is a go-to point to manage any of these complaints, as well as boost circulation and energy levels.
- Spleen 6 – located about three finger widths above the inner ankle bone, stimulating this point is believed to help regulate the menstrual cycle, relieve pelvic pain, and promote postpartum healing (especially the uterus). It can also help promote lactation and improve digestion.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for new moms almost always involves eating congee–a warming, nourishing porridge that’s easy on the digestive system. For moms with older children, congee acts as a simple go-to breakfast or lunch recipe that’s easy to make ahead and tailor to your family’s needs.
Making congee is easy. Simply slow-cook your grain of choice (rice, millet, and barley are most traditional) with several cups of water or bone broth (6-8 depending on how thick or thin you prefer it). Then, add other ingredients to make it more flavorful or support your health goals. For example:
- To build blood, add goji berries, black sesame seeds, and cinnamon.
- To boost energy, add roasted chicken, spring onions, carrots, and sweet potato.
- To improve digestion, add fennel, cardamom, and ginger.
Bake lactation cookies
A delicious way to enjoy the benefits of Chinese medicine for moms and babies is by whipping up a batch of lactation cookies. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy. That’s why it’s common for new moms to struggle with lactation. Especially if they had a difficult labor or are having trouble regaining their strength since delivery.
Lactation cookies use the power of healing foods to boost and maintain your milk supply. These cookies contain special ingredients known as galactagogues that are designed to help boost milk production. Galactagogues typically include natural herbs like garlic, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, or oats.
Find Your Balance with Chinese Medicine for Moms
One of the most beautiful things about being a woman is the ability to create life. But with this gift often comes a slew of physical and health challenges. Thankfully, Chinese medicine for moms can help you find your balance naturally.
From Chinese medicine acupuncture to herbal remedies to healing recipes, TCM offers a holistic approach to nourishing moms’ health. As always, it’s important to remember that every woman’s motherhood experience is unique. It’s essential to listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider before trying any new practices.
Disclaimer: All content within this site is not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be considered a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any health or nutritional information obtained is accurate.