Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
Audio Broadcast of the article is available below:
How does Mother Warming help postpartum recovery?
Mother warming (sometimes referred to as mother roasting) is a treatment given to women starting at four or five days following childbirth and in the weeks to follow to aid in postpartum recovery. It aims to replenish the Qi (energy) and blood that is lost with pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth places a huge strain on the body as it uses up Qi and blood. Chinese medicine holds the theory that depletion of the body’s resources of Qi and blood are the root cause of low milk supply, postpartum depression, prolapse, fatigue and insomnia after birth. A woman’s channels (or meridians) and collaterals have been opened and made vulnerable during childbirth. Very often, this will predispose women to having cold attack the body and contributing to blood stagnation.
Mother warming provides warmth to and nourishes the channels and collaterals that have been opened and made vulnerable during childbirth. Moxibustion has amazing warming properties and enhances the circulation. It involves the use of the chinese herb mugwort which is burned and then used to heat up specific acupuncture points on the body. These points primarily lie on the lower abdomen and the lower back. A moxa stick looks ‘cigar-like’ and is very easy to use. This is the most popular form of moxa used in modern clinics.
Mother warming aids healing, relieves discomfort and helps to tone the uterus. It helps the mother start to feel rejuvenated and have more energy as it benefits the circulation.
Mother warming is a simple and gentle technique that support people can do for the mother at home. It is best done for ten to twenty minutes as much as the mother would like. I recommend it being done at least once per day. In my clinical practice, I show my patients and their partners how to use the moxa sticks and always give them a moxa stick to go home with.
In a nutshell, these are the benefits of having the mother warming treatment:
- Replenish Qi helping to improve energy levels
- Benefits the immune system
- Nourishes Blood helping to prevent and treat postpartum depression
- Benefit Iron levels aiding postpartum blood loss.
- Boost milk supply.
- Treat and prevent prolapse.
- Warm the Uterus ensuring a healthy womb for future fertility and menstruation.
As moxibustion is excellent at circulating and stimulating blood flow in the uterus and pelvic area, it is also a common treatment used to turn breech babies and during the menstrual cycle to help relieve cramps.
Diet during the postpartum period is vital. A warming diet is so important in keeping the mother warm and nourished during this important and precious time. Chinese medicine recommends a diet consisting of chicken soup and other soups and stews, high quality animal meats, bone broths, ginger, and drinking a lot of teas.