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Traditional Chinese Medicine Tips for Postpartum Healing

The first few weeks postpartum can be a joyful, yet challenging time, especially when it comes to nurturing not just your little one, but yourself as well. In many traditional cultures throughout the world, nutrition is a key component to healing after the monumental—and sometimes traumatic—event of giving birth.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pregnancy and childbirth puts your body in a state of depletion, and if this is not addressed, it can affect recovery, energy, mood, and lactation. For some people, this depletion can lead to lingering health challenges for years down the line.

The right nutrition post-birth isn't just about dieting; it's a form of therapy. The postpartum period is a critical window of opportunity to replenish your Qi (energy), and enrich your blood to support healing. It is believed that the more nourished your body is at this time, the better off you will be for the rest of your life. Even many health problems that existed prior to pregnancy, such as painful periods, can be resolved with proper care during postpartum.

Below are some general guidelines for postpartum nutrition from a TCM perspective:

  1. Consume warm food and drinks. You will find that soups, stews, and cooked foods are recommended staples in TCM postpartum nutrition. Warm temperature foods help to quickly replenish the Yang energy that is lost through childbirth. Warm foods also promote circulation to help heal, relieve pain, as well as support lactation.
  2. Focus on nutrient-dense meals. In those early weeks postpartum, it can be hard to find time to feed yourself in between your little one’s feeding schedule. It is important to ensure that your meals incorporate a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Now is not the time to count calories or focus on weight loss. Traditional postpartum meals include ingredients such as liver, yams, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
  3. Stay hydrated. Consuming enough fluids is crucial, especially if you are breastfeeding. However, TCM advises against relying too much on plain water for hydration- especially if it is cold. Your digestive system may be sluggish during those first few weeks postpartum and too much cold water can further slow things down. Traditionally, we recommend drinking tea made from jujube dates, which are used in Chinese medicine to replenish blood and calm the spirit. Soups are another great option to get both your fluids as well as nutrition. Roasted rice tea is also great for healing and lactation by way of enhancing digestion. A stronger digestive system means better absorption of nutrients to enhance tissue healing and milk production.
  4. Try customized herbal remedies. A number of culinary ingredients popular in traditional postpartum meals are also medicinals used in Chinese herbal medicine, ginger being the most common. Consulting with a TCM practitioner is advised to get a personalized herbal prescription that aligns with your body’s specific needs. Many Chinese herbs are safe to consume while breastfeeding and some can even help boost milk supply.

The postpartum period is a time of healing and adjustment. Embracing the wisdom of TCM on nutrition can provide a nurturing way to support recovery, enhance well-being, and nourish the body during this significant life transition.

April 24, 2024
2 min read
Teresa Tau, R.TCMP, R.Ac., L.Ac.
Owner and Founder of TLC Medicine