Jason Moskovitz, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M.
During pregnancy we’re inundated with information about what is best for mommy and baby. Once baby is here, however, often less attention is paid to the recovery of mommy, as most of the focus is on the health and wellness of the new addition to the family. We hear stories of post-partum depression all the time, so much that when people hear “post-partum” they only think of depression. Let it be known that post-partum only refers to the time after giving birth. Depression, fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, insomnia and all the normal and abnormal trappings of this post-partum time give us an opportunity to optimize mommy’s recovery from the traumas associated with pregnancy and childbirth. “Traumas” may be a strong word to describe a pregnancy or labor/delivery that seemed uneventful. But most pregnancies and deliveries do stress the metabolism, muscles and joints; while enduring loss of blood and energy.
So, how do we replenish our bodies after birth?
- More protein. Protein is all we hear about when it comes to growing our baby inside us. But protein sources remain crucial for both mommy and baby afterward. It will benefit milk production as well as restore mommy’s body as well. Include chicken, fish, turkey, beans and eggs. For the first month after giving birth, more blood-rich proteins may be called for like chicken livers, organ meats, and placenta.
- Placenta? Many of us are still not aware that the U.S. is one of the few countries that doesn’t commonly think to consume the placenta after giving birth. It’s rich in nutrients and minerals, enough to strengthen and grow your baby. Consuming it afterward will do the same for mommy, and for baby once again via the breast milk. There are companies that will encapsulate your placenta for you.
- More vegetables. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, seaweed and collards are especially high in calcium, B vitamins, chlorophyl, iron, and a host of minerals to help replenish your energy and blood.
What should we look to avoid during our recovery?
- Cold foods. Iced or cold foods like ice cream, iced drinks, and food straight from the fridge can take away much-needed energy from our bodies. And our blood vessels do what we do when we’re cold, they constrict. This can impair circulation and slow down recovery or make pains worse.
- Raw foods. Post-partum recovery is a time of sensitivity, including immune sensitivity. Cooking was first developed as a way to keep bacteria, fungus, and parasites from proliferating in our body. The uncooked cell walls of raw foods provide an additional energetic challenge to the sensitive post-partum digestion as well. Do your body a service and lightly-cook your foods during this time, even fruits.
- Processed or genetically-modified food. Ideally, you want to consume fresh, organic, local food. If that’s not available in your community, try to avoid food with additives like artificial flavors and colors, and nitrates. Ask questions from your food suppliers and supermarkets if you want to know more about what’s in your food. You could be eating herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, or other chemicals; many of which are shown to adversely affect your health and that of your developing baby.
Where do we turn for more information?
- Sitting Moon by Daoshing Ni and Jessica Chen
- Tao of Nutrition by Mao Shing Ni and Cathy McNease
- Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
- Consult a doula for pregnancy, birth, and post-partum information and support.
- Chinese nutritional consultations at Tao Of Wellness (taoofwellness.com) in person or over the phone.
Jason is a licensed acupuncturist, national diplomat of oriental medicine, herbal physician, nutritional counselor and taichi instructor at Tao Of Wellness. He is the author of Arthritis: Secrets of Natural Healing. Jason has administered thousands of successful treatments in areas of women’s health, infertility, elder care, and joint pain. Jason teaches his patients how to embrace their ever-changing condition and all the ways in which the body can heal itself.