Acupuncture for the Post partum Mother

I spoke this past weekend at the Chicago Birth Professional Conference. Many of you expressed interest in what I spoke about so I am sharing my notes here. Let me know if you have questions ūüėČ

Chinese Medicine for Post Partum Care

The 3 days following child birth are considered a time of purging. Because the body is open it can be susceptible to depletion especially of energy (qi) and blood. Rest is paramount, ideally for 30-90 days. Staying warm regardless of climate or time of year is also important and is very protective of the body. (talk about back of neck and abdomen covered) A warming nourishing diet and avoiding cold and damp foods is also important during this time.

Foods to tonify qi:

Oats, rice, potato, sweet potato, mushroom, yam, basil, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme and jasmine tea

Foods to build blood:

Corn, sweet rice, beetroot, all dark leafy greens, apricot, avocado, date, kidney bean, sesame seeds, egg, red meat and spinach

Wheat and barley grass, green vegetables are important during nursing and are a Japanese folk remedy to support healthy milk supply.

Cooked foods are especially nourhishing at this time. Soups, stews, porridge etc are ideal

Foods to avoid: raw foods, dairy products especially milk and ice cream, greasy fried foods, foods cool in nature like cucumbers, peppermint etc

Moxa or Artemisia Vulgaris is a species of chrysanthemum and can be used for a variety of conditions. In Chinese Medicine there are several ways to use moxa and all involve burning this herb over or on acupuncture points.

One major benefit of Moxa is that it benefits circulation. It can be used to regulate the energy and blood of the body, expel cold and dampness especially if pain is worse in these kind of environments, warm the uterus, stop bleeding, regulate digestion as well as menstruation, and ease the fetus or turn a breech baby.

Moxa can be used preventatively as well. Burning moxa over the acu-point Zu San Li St36 on a regular basis is a great way to stay healthy. In¬†Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion,¬†it says, “when a healthy man often has moxabustion to the points of CV4, CV6 and CV12 he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”

Currently in Africa moxabustion is being used as a treatment for tuberculosis through the organization Moxafrica. There is research evidence from Japan in the 1930s and 40s where moxabustion was used effectively and cheaply to treat and in many cases cure TB.

Mother warming is a technique  used to gently nourish the body helping to tone the uterus and aid recovery after birth at a time when a woman needs to regain her strength to care for her newborn and establish breast feeding.

Benefits include strengthening the center, promoting lactation, preventing post partum depression, and boosting energy.

The properties of moxa help to build energy and blood and it is a warming herb.

Mother warming is usually preformed between day 4-6 post partum. This treatment can energize the mother and aid in recovery.

Moxa is applied to the midline of the abdomen to the acu-points cv2-8 (apprx the top of the pubic bone to the navel on the midline of the body)

 

photo credit http://www.compassionatedragon.com/images/acupuncture/ac_points/ac_ren3.png

 

Moxa is done in an upward motion until the mother feels a pleasant warming sensation appx 5-10 minutes.

Moxa can then be applied in the same way to the du channel of the back, midline of the body from appx the sacrum to the top of the iliac crests.

 

photo credit http://www.compassionatedragon.com/images/acupuncture/ac_points/ac_du4-14.png

 

UB23 the shu point of the kd is also a beneficial point to moxa at this time. It is in the same line as du4

photo credit http://www.itmonline.org/image/cystitis2.jpg

Contraindications: fever, night sweats or over a c section scar that has any suspicious redness or pus like discharge.

Other postpartum concerns Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help:

  • After pains (abstain from cold, raw foods especially, protect against wind and cold environmentally) LV3 acupressure also great for menstrual cramps
  • Insufficient lactation
  • Mastitis/plugged duct (if treated right away can usually stop in its tracks and recover faster)
  • Termination of lactation (acupuncture and moxa 3-5 treatments)
  • Post partum depression
  • Night sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Complications from Excessive post partum blood loss
  • Palpitations/anxiety
  • PTSD (when working with other health care providers)