There are very real benefits in using traditional Chinese medicine during pregnancy and during postpartum period to prevent disharmonies developing. It is only too common in clinical practice to see women presenting with a range of deficiency
Persistent Uterine Bleeding
Feedback from midwives suggests that postpartum acupuncture sessions is an effective way to stimulate the passing of any suspected retained products. Women report the passing of a clot or membranes soon after or within a day of treatment, after which time the bleeding begins to subside. If this does not occur, the woman’s midwife or doctor will need to be notified so that a further medical assessment can be made.
These short, sharp cramp-like pains occur as the uterus descends back into the pelvis following childbirth. This is normal occurrence and begins shortly after the placenta has been delivered, often with the first breastfeed. The pains may continue to occur over several days and will resolve as the uterus returns to its normal position.
Acupuncture is effective to relieve oedematous perineum. Women often describe this as an uncomfortable swollen feeling that makes it difficult to sit down in the first few days following delivery.
Acupuncture restores normal breast milk production to lactating mothers with low milk secretion levels. Research conducted at the Hanzhong Shanxi Hospital demonstrates that the application of a specific set of acupuncture points significantly boosts lactation quantities. In a controlled investigation of 116 women with deficient secretion of milk (hypogalactia, hypogalactorrhea), acupuncture successfully increased breast milk secretion from an average of 49.63 ml to 115.21 ml. In addition, lactating mothers receiving acupuncture had a concomitant improvement in prolactin (a hormone that stimulates milk production) levels.
Postpartum Depression / Anxiety
Postpartum depression/anxiety is a syndrome where the mother is overly anxious and may even suffer from paranoid thoughts or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Some anxious new parents who have just given birth have sleep disorders and physical issues like palpitations or a sense of panic. Many are stressed about the well-being of the baby and some may even fear that they could harm their baby. If you feel like this and your condition persists for more than two weeks or you have thoughts of harming your baby, you should speak with your doctor immediately. From a Chinese medicine point of view, postpartum people are extremely blood deficient. The body’s blood volume has practically doubled throughout pregnancy to support the fetus; the hair gets luxurious, nails long, and strong and little wrinkles disappear. Postpartum is a different story. Childbirth itself is pretty bloody-especially if you have had a C-section. Nursing also depletes the body’s fluid levels. When blood and fluid levels get low there is a phenomenon in Chinese medicine called Liver Blood or Heart Blood/Yin Deficiency. This can manifest as disturbed sleep, palpitations, dry mouth, agitation, anxiety, trouble concentrating… Chinese medicine and acupuncture treats postpartum anxiety really well. There are many classical herbal formulas to address both the root and symptom of postpartum anxiety or if you are concerned about taking herbs and nursing acupuncture alone may be the way to go. The following dietary therapy is helpful as well:
- Fish Oil
- Floradix: veggie iron supplement
- Eating foods that nourish the Kidneys (home to Jing Essence): black beans, fish, black sesame seeds, molasses, seaweed
- Also consider: dandelion and nettles (easily available in tea form) to boost iron and calcium.
Some Clinical Research:
Postpartum Depression: https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/acupuncture-postpartum-depression/
Third Stage of Labor and Acupuncture: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4346602/
Acupuncture for Insufficient Lactation: https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1773-acupuncture-boosts-breast-milk-production