After birth is where Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine really shines. Great emphasis is placed on the recovery of the mother with treatments aimed at enriching your health so that you can be there for your newborn as well as other children. At Balanced Life Health Care in Ferntree Gully, we use Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to assist in varying Post-Natal complaints after birth, some of the common conditions being:
- Breastfeeding issues; insufficient lactation, excessive lactation, mastitis
- Post-natal depression
- Retained lochia & persistant bleeding
- Infant colic
Some new mothers find it hard to attend regular Acupuncture appointments so in these cases we recommend Chinese herbs which are very safe for both mother and infant. In fact sometimes we add specific herbs such as cardamon, rice sprouts, and/or tangerine peel which are useful to help infant colic.
Chinese culture has a rich tradition when it comes to rest after childbirth, there are even hotels especially designed for the purpose. However more commonly the new grandmother or an older family member moves in with the couple to help in cooking, cleaning and settling in of the new baby. It is termed confinement and is common in other cultures including Korean, Greek, Indian, Vietnamese and more; lasting 10 to 44 days. During this time a strict protocol is often enforced with little understanding of the relevance, for example Chinese women are not encouraged to bathe but instead wash with ginger infused cloths. Although now seems like a quirky and irrelevant traditions, however protected the mother and newborn from water-born diseases common up till the turn of the century. However there are some good lesson to be learn from adapting this lifestyle when you bring your newborn home. Some good was to adapt to a modern lifestyle;
- Allow yourself time to recuperate and recover – nobody expects to be social, radiant and slim. Spend some time bonding with your baby, resting in bed and doing as little as possible.
- Stock your freezer with friendly foods for after birth (remember nothing too spicy, greasy or can cause you gas such a beans / legumes as these will not fare well while breastfeeding)
- Encourage family or friends to help out with chores and cleaning, or ask for cleaning services as a gift rather than another 100 singlets that baby grows out of so quickly. Some lucky women don’t even have to worry about changing a nappy for the first few weeks.
- Ask family and friends who are sick to stay away and avoid public places as your child is not immunised
- Organise play dates for older children and offer to return the favour
Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer for insufficient lactation particularly the herbal medicine. Insufficient lactation can be caused by depletion particularly blood; more importantly iron and B12 stores often depleted by blood loss in childbirth. The well known saying in Chinese Medicine “feed the mother to feed the child” applies here. What the mother ingests, the baby ingests as well. Chinese herbs are aimed at building up your stores and replenishing your stores.
Mastitis is common, especially in first time mothers and if left untreated will affect your ability to breastfeed your newborn. It is important to address mastitis as soon as it begins. Herbs such as dandelion can be useful in prevention of mastitis, but as it progresses more individualized herbal medicine may be needed.
Post-natal depression unfortunately is common place in our society with new mothers suffering often in silence while depression grips their lives. However many women also shun conventional treatments like anti-depressnats due to the side effects and the potential to cross the breast milk barrier. Acupuncture can be a great alternative as it is a natural form of health care that offers promising results, in fact one study of 8 weeks of regular Acupuncture sessions saw improvement in 63% of participants.
Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby is crying inconsolably for extended periods of time on a daily basis. Your newborn with often be pumping their legs in the air trying to relieve the gas pains. It can be extremely exhausting for both your, and your newborn.
In Chinese Medicine colic is caused by baby’s weak digestive system, which doesn’t mature until about age 6. Weak digestion leads to a pattern called food stagnation which can be thought of as food that is stuck in the stomach and intestines and is not being digested causing pain and discomfort.
Treatment can include herbs taken by the mother which will be present in the breast milk, otherwise herbal formula can be given directly to your newborn from an eyedropper. Other changes can include changes to the mother’s diet and / or rest times to be taken during breast feeding sessions. Colic can often be resolved within a week.
Infant oral thrush
This refers to a candida overgrowth in the mouth. In newborns, this is usually passed from the mother’s system, commonly during childbirth while travelling through the vaginal canal. There is a disturbance between the good bacteria has been disturbed allowing the candida yeast to become too abundant. This is often the result of antibiotic use in the mother which eradicates the healthy flora.
An herbal wash can be prepared and wiped inside the baby’s mouth and genital areas on a daily basis. The herbs have anti-fungal/yeast/bacteria functions.It can also be helpful to take a good quality pro-biotic for babies