'Mother Warming'

by Francesca Howell © Copyright 2010

Traditional Postnatal Acupuncture Treatment

Postnatal Care

The Postnatal period generally refers to the six-weeks following childbirth. During this time the body starts to recover and to return to the way it was before pregnancy. In our society there can sometimes be an assumption and an expectation that a woman will feel completely recovered after this six week period. Many women would recognise that it can take much longer than this to feel ‘back to normal’. Some women find that it can be a struggle and experience low energy, depression and can have continued physical issues.

A woman isn’t only recovering from childbirth itself during this time but also from having been pregnant for nine months. Traditional Chinese Medicine recognises that the period needed for nourishment and the restoring of a woman’s energy can range from 30 – 100 days. This is dependant on an individual’s experience of pregnancy and childbirth and will vary for each individual. In clinical practice we often treat women who are experiencing a sense of not feeling they are back to full strength up to two years after having a child. This will partly be to do with how much energy is required to care for a child and may well be do with the particular pregnancy and birth experience and also to do with how their energy levels were before pregnancy.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Viewpoint

Chinese Medicine has the view that women during the postnatal period are more prone to develop Qi, Blood or Yin deficiency. Acupuncture during this time has different treatment stages. The first few days is seen as a time of elimination and if appropriate treatment would therefore be directed at clearing any stagnation. The next 30 to 100 days is focused on toning and nourishment and treatment is aimed at replacing and rebuilding a woman’s energy.

Lifestyle advice during this time would also be to eat regularly and get as much rest as possible. This all helps the body recover more quickly. A list of foods, which might be helpful, could also be given. Women can be more likely to suffer from colds or infections if their energy is depleted. This can be helped by as much as possible avoiding strong winds and cold. By allowing this time and paying attention to what may help the energy recover, the body will heal more quickly. Acupuncture is a useful addition to this healing time and can help improve energy.

Treatment

Mother Warming is a treatment that is given to women 4-5 days following birth. The treatment involves the gentle warming of the acupuncture meridians that run through the lower abdomen and lower back. It is a very nourishing and strengthening treatment and can be taught to partners to be carried out daily for 10-20 minutes. It involves using a Moxa stick and warming acupuncture points (Ren 8 to Ren 2) on the abdomen and on the lower back for 5 – 10 minutes until they feel pleasantly warm.

The points are warmed using Moxa. Moxa is a dried herb called mugwort and is burned over the needles to warm them or used directly above the skin, over the acupuncture points. Moxa has an influence on the energy of the body and has the ability to circulate and nourish Qi and Blood and has a beneficial effect on a woman’s energy. It is also used during pregnancy to help turn breech babies and during the menstrual cycle to help relieve menstrual cramps. This is because it has been shown to circulate and stimulate blood flow in the uterus and pelvic area.

Mother warming can aid healing and give relief to any discomfort and help tone the uterus. It can also help the new mother have more energy and feel rejuvenated and is a great way to gently aid recovery from childbirth and restore energy.

Meridians & Points:

There is a meridian call the Ren or Conception Vessel. This Channel is also known as the Sea of Yin. It runs down the midline of the front of the body. The points below the umbilicus all have a strong effect on our energy and particularly the uterus and Kidney energy, which is so important during pregnancy and can become depleted at this time. The Moxa stick is run from Ren 8 (Spirit Gate), which is found at the centre of umbilicus to Ren 2, which is at the top of the pubic bone. On the lower back the area warmed is on the lumber region of the back. The points are Du 4 (Gate of Life) In the depression below the spinous process of the 2nd lumbar vertebra on the midline of the spine to Du 2 on the midline of the back at the highest point of the sacrum. Bladder 23 is a pair of points each side of the spinous process of the 2nd lumber(usually level with base of the ribs or in the waistline). Generally warming the whole lower back will feel relaxing and energizing.

It should be noted that this treatment would not be appropriate if there is any infection present or if someone is experiencing a lot of heat symptoms.

Follow up treatments

Acupuncture can help increase your energy after birth. It can also be helpful with the following conditions:

A follow up visit approximately 10-14 days following birth can also be useful. It would be helpful to have one treatment a week for 3-4 weeks.

About the author

Francesca Howell Dip. Ac is a qualified acupuncturist.