Mamas on Bedrest: Observe “The Golden Month”May 5th, 2010
The month after giving birth is called ‘the golden month’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In traditional Chinese culture as well as in many other cultures, for the first 30 to 40 days following delivery new mothers are expected to rest, recover, nurture and bond with their new babies. In traditional Chinese families, an older female relative moves in with the new family and does all of the household chores so that mother can rest and recuperated. Additionally, this older relative prepares nourishing and replenishing foods, provides comfort (frequent massages) and generally does whatever it takes to help the new mother recover. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that this “Golden Month” is of the utmost importance for mother and baby. It is believed that the care that both receive during this time will bear heavily on their future health.
During childbirth (natural and cesarean), women lose a significant amount of blood. In TCM, blood is associated with the life force or Qi (pronounced “chee”), so the loss is associated with a significant loss in energy and vitality. TCM stresses that it is imperative that women be replenished immediately after delivery and have found that it takes 30 to 40 days to adequately restore a woman to health.
During the Golden Month, women are encouraged to get lots of rest so that the body can carry out its natural healing processes. They are given lots of nourishing broths and foods that are high in iron like beets, lean meats and leafy greens to restore their blood supply. They are kept warm because it is believed that being cold is extremely damaging to the system and TCM finds that the body is able to recover more quickly and effectively when it is warm. The restoration that takes place during the Golden Month also puts Chinese women and women who follow these principles at decreased risk of post partum depression.
In TCM depression can arise from excessive blood loss during the birthing process. A recent study published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for depression in pregnant women and found it to be effective for postpartum depression as well. In addition to acupuncture, herbal supplements for a few months after birth, in the forms forms of teas, tinctures and tonics, can be a highly effective to prevent and/or address postpartum blues as well as other postpartum worries such as pain and discomfort, depression, hemorrhoids or breast milk supply.
If you’re having significant challenges and want a more holistic approach to post partum care, seek the help of a Chinese Medicine Doctor or other health practitioner. Enlist the help of friends, family members, community groups and agencies whenever possible so that you can get the rest you need to recuperate. There is a lot that you can to do heal and feel better, and when you feel good, that’s ultimately good for your new baby too.
How did you spend your time post partum? Share your story in our comments section.
Sign up for our newsletter to be kept “in the know” with what’s going on with Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.