Once a woman has a baby, all the focus and attention that have been on her and her health during the pregnancy tend to flow instead toward the newborn. While babies of course need a huge amount of love and care, new mothers do, too — they’ve just gone through an intense period of change and the often challenging and exhausting experience of birth.
Now they’re in what’s known as “the fourth trimester.” Physiologically, the mother’s body is going through another enormous shift as it begins to readjust to its normal state and hormones head back to their previous levels. Massage therapy is extremely beneficial during this readjustment phase as a way to right any trauma done to the body by the birth or pregnancy so the mother can have the vitality she needs to care for a young child and enjoy life.
In postpartum sessions we often address any muscle pain that has carried over from the pregnancy so it doesn’t become chronic, as well as any new muscle pain that may have developed after giving birth. We work on structural imbalances and postural guidance to realign the body after it has carried all that extra weight for six or so months, and do abdominal massage to aid in visceral healing within the abdominal and pelvic cavities. Sessions can also reduce caesarean scarring to lessen its internal effects — pelvic adhesions and fascial imbalances that can arise from the scarred tissues.
Most importantly, however, postpartum massage allows the new mother, who must be almost constantly focused on nurturing her newborn, to be nurtured and spend some time on herself.
Here are a few of the various benefits of postpartum massage, which can help to:
- Stabilize hormone levels and ease hormone-related depression/ anxiety
- Alleviate many of the common postpartum discomforts (low back/ pelvic pain, headaches, sciatica, fatigue, joint pain, etc.)
- Re-stabilize posture and redevelop proper pelvic alignment
- Reduce scarring and the risks of its adverse effects
- Heal and properly reposition internal organs stressed and displaced by the growing baby
- Reduce stress and provide calm, nurturing touch that all new (and veteran) moms need
Chinese medicine has a rich history of supporting women during the postpartum period. Traditional Chinese culture also supported women well after they gave birth — in households of some means, at least, they were waited on for 30 days. Some of this is a bit extreme, but it does show that the Chinese considered the postpartum period to be an important time of recovery.
Acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition will support a woman’s natural recovery. We also find it most helpful to do moxibustion treatments — burning of the herb mugwort over the women’s abdomen. This helps the uterus return to size, reduces discomfort, and aids in healing.
Among the many possible postpartum complications, the best known is postpartum depression. Acupuncture can most certainly help ease symptoms of depression as effectively as pharmaceutical medication, with none of the undesirable side effects.
Fourth Trimester Nutrition
Caring for a newborn is so time-consuming that it can be difficult for a new mother to eat well during the postpartum period. But good nutrition is critical to your health as well as your baby’s. Research shows that a child’s diet when young — including what the mother eats while breastfeeding — can affect that child’s food preferences, health, and development. For example, cutting down on sugar while pregnant and breastfeeding can reduce your child’s risk of diabetes later in life. And you need good food to help produce healthy breast milk.
We can help with nutritional recommendations and supplements. We know which foods and herbs promote rich and abundant breast milk, and which will best support your overall health. Be sure to take advantage of our research and knowledge in this area.