Many women come to the clinic with symptoms of period pain, leg pain, lower back pain, irregular period and pregnancy problems; frequent miscarriage or endometriosis after a pregnancy. I diagnose these women using Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis and discover that these symptoms are associated with disorders arising from their first labour. Their body is usually not balanced and looked after adequately after labour, resulting in these symptoms. Many families concentrate attention to the new born with little focus on the new mother, it is important to look after the mothers health as well as the baby.
1. Qi and blood changes after labour
i) Qi and blood deficiency
Traditional Chinese medicine considers the body uses lots of Qi, energy and losses lots of fluids through perspiration and blood during labour. After labour, the body Qi and blood is much lower than normal. Straight away, women may be lethargic, short of breath, blood deficiency, pale or have hair loss. If the women is breast-feeding, these symptoms may be more predominant and long lasting. This is because Chinese medicine considers milk production is associated with blood.
ii) Blood stagnation
Women need to take two weeks to clear the old blood from the uterus and pelvic area, and to help the uterus return back to its normal position and circulation. I suggest that for the first four weeks it is best to avoid cold beverages and foods but help warm the area (abdomen and lower back) to help clear the old blood so it does not become stagnant. If the circulation does not return to normal, the symptoms above may occur. These symptoms may not show straight away, but after time there may be pain in certain areas.
2. How to balance the body after labour?
i) Tonify qi and blood
How to tonify qi and blood? Chinese food diet therapy suggests that if you drink foul chicken soup (Hen) for the first four months after labour it will help greatly. Please see the recipe below. You can drink this once or twice a day. This will help to improve the mothers energy but also increase the production of milk.
ii) Warming yang and circulation after labour
As we mentioned above, women after labour need warmth. During this time, eating foods rich in warmth,and avoiding icy cold things. Keep stomach area and lower back area warm especially in colder days and months – which will help improving circulation and help in the removal of stagnant blood which is left in the lower stomach and uterus area. This will help to prevent lower back, stomach, joint and period pain.
Because of the physical changes to the woman’s body after labour traditional chinese medical culture suggest that the first month after labour, it is a crucial time for the body to be returned to its normal condition. I suggest you to add spring onions and ginger into your soup to help warm the circulation, especially during cold weather and winter.
i) Old chicken soup
1 Old chicken (Hen) – clear fat and dice
3 Pieces of ginger
1 Spring onion chopped
10 Chinese red dates
2 Tblspn Goji berries
8 or 10 cups of water
Boil the chicken and clear the top of soup. Add ginger and spring onions and let simmer for 3 hours (during cooking, if there is not enough water you can add more). After this add chinese red dates and goji berries and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt for taste.
Effects: This is a very popular soup in China for women after labour. It is sweet and delicous. It tonify’s and increases qi and blood; balance ying and yang; increase production of milk.
i) Because the older chicken is rich in warmth, so if your body has the following conditions it is best to avoid. Fever, infection, your body is heat constitution, constipation, red face, perspiration, high blood pressure problems. It is best to avoid or eat less of this type of chicken. Or you can use the normal meat chicken, has a less amount of warmth and heat effects.
ii) If you are unsure of your body constitution please advise you TCM practitioner.