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Many women seek out Chinese medicine care for help in getting pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and preparing for birth, but what about after the baby comes--the so-called fourth trimester?

Birth, whether vaginal or surgical, entails a loss of qi (vital life force) and "blood" (as understood in the vocabulary of Chinese medicine, the nourishment, substance, and fuel necessary for life). Caring for a newborn is also depleting.

Ways to replenish qi and blood after birth include:

1. Herbs started as soon as possible after the birth to help clear out the lochia (the bleeding after delivery), boost the mother, and encourage breastmilk production. Herbs are routinely given in Chinese maternity hospitals. These can even be ordered and purchased before the baby comes, so you have them on hand.

2. Nourishing healthy food (click here for some suggestions): The logistics of getting food with a newborn to care for can be daunting. For those without extended family to help, consider cooking and stocking your freezer before the birth, or requesting home-cooked meals or gift certificates to restaurants or meal delivery services (Portable Chef or Fresh Direct for fully-cooked meals; Blue Apron or Plated for meals that require a little assembly) as baby gifts, instead of clothes or gear. Websites such as www.mealbaby.com can help friends and family organize to help new parents.

3. Traditionally babies and new mothers were kept in the house after the birth, in most cultures for at least a month. Given the realities of modern life, this isn't always possible. However prioritizing time to rest and bond is important for both the health of mother and baby. And if you are concerned about your newborn contracting colds, flus, or other infectious diseases keeping him or her at home as much as possible is a good preventative strategy. Help with housework, errands, school pick-ups, etc. may be another "alternative" baby gift you could request.

4. Professional help from your Chinese medicine practitioner: In addition to routine prescribing of herbs after delivery, you may consider Chinese medicine (herbs and/or acupuncture) to help with any of the following conditions.

*Aches, pains, tearing, fatigue, fevers, sweating, and other common issues that may arise right after birth;
*In addition to getting help from a nursing professional, Chinese medicine can treat problems with milk supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, latch problems in the newborn;
*Baby blues and postpartum depression;
*For nursing moms, concerned about medications, Chinese medicine offers a great alternative for many other health issues;
*Finally, there is a special system of acupressure massage specifically for infants that can help improve digestion and sleep in babies, as well as address more acute conditions. We can treat babies using this modality, in addition to offering instruction to parents.

And, if you are in need of postpartum or infant care, please ask about our house-call service.

After ten years of caring for mothers and babies, I have decided to restructure my office-based practice to allow for more postpartum house calls. Postpartum women and infants can greatly benefit from Chinese medicine, but are often unable to get care because of the logistical challenges involved.

As a compliment to regular medical care, Chinese medicine helps with many common issues after a baby is born:

*Hastens recovery and improves energy for new moms

*Helps feeding/nursing/supply issues

*Combats “baby blues” and postpartum mood fluctuations

*Improves sleep and digestion for mother and baby

*Treats aches and pains from labor, C-sections, and/or holding a newborn

*And much more!

Additionally I am happy to collaborate with and refer to other practitioners, to insure the new family gets the best possible support.

One inclusive fee per visit not only covers an acupuncture treatment for the new mom in her home, but also includes gentle acupressure-massage for baby (with instruction for parents) and a custom herbal formula (for mom) delivered to her home after the session. Some insurance accepted—please contact me for more information.

I am currently offering this service in Manhattan below 96th Street and many Brooklyn neighborhoods. (Additional neighborhoods and boroughs possible by mutual agreement for an additional transportation charge.)

I'm frequently asked about whether "inducing labor with acupuncture" is something I do. My quick answer is that a labor induction can only be performed in the hospital by your doctor or midwife. I prefer to think of late-pregnancy, pre-labor acupuncture as removing potential roadblocks to the birth process.

What does that mean?: By 36 or 37 weeks an expectant woman may be tired, she may have excess physical tension, or she may be anxious about giving birth. By addressing these symptoms with acupuncture we can allow the body to go into labor naturally.

How quickly after a pre-labor treatment does a woman typically go into labor?: For better or worse, rarely right away. Yes, I've seen babies born the evening after I treated the mom, but this is in a situation where the mom was very close to going into labor on her own. Usually it takes more than one acupuncture treatment.

So, is it still worth it to have acupuncture in the last few weeks of pregnancy?: Yes, research shows acupuncture can make for shorter, more efficient labors. It can also make you feel better, stronger, calmer, clearer going into labor. And, being as healthy as possible prior to giving birth will make postpartum easier too, whether you have a natural birth or a C-section.

 

Check out Sarah's article on kids and snacks on Hip Slope Mama .

Bon appetit!

If you're wanting to learn more about Chinese medicine, here's a good basic overview (please note, the page will download automatically when you click on the link below):

chinese-medicine-works.com/pdfs/foundationˍconcepts.pdf

 

 

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We accept insurance if your health plan has an out-of-network acupuncture benefit. Please contact us for more information.