May 20 2019 – Sophie Ward
Giving birth is an outward motion. Postpartum is an inward motion. Like the cycles of nature, bringing life to earth has its two distinct seasons.
These inward and outward times are characterized by what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as yin and yang. For those unfamiliar with yin and yang, the terms are used to characterize energy flow or qualities. Yang is typically more of a masculine energy associated with the sun, while yin is more feminine and associated with the moon.
If we think of birth and postpartum as cycles that match nature and the flow of energy, birth would be described as a very yang experience – very outward, very energetic, there is a lot of intensity and motivation needed to push the baby out. Giving birth is big!
After the birth experience, yin wants to flow in to balance the space that channeled so much motivation and force. Good quality yin supports rest, relaxation, lubrication and steadiness. It is the quality of energy that allows a mother to feel adequately rested, nourished and able to meet the new demands of her life without feeling overwhelmed or overburdened.
But too much yin can lead to depression, anxiety and loneliness. Too much yin can be isolating. Too much yin can cause stagnation. Imagine a night with no sunrise – this can be how postpartum depression or malaise feels to a new mother.
Just as the dampness of night is slowly alleviated by the warmth of the early rays of the sun, warmth is the key to bringing balance back to the body of the mother. As mothers and birth workers, we must balance the postpartum tendency to excess yin with warmth. Warm foods, warm liquids, warm baths and warm clothing will ensure ‘chi’ or energy flows freely through the body providing circulation and a sense of well being to the mother.
There must be no cold air on the neck, chest or throat, and she must avoid having cold feet and hands. Resist the temptation for iced drinks or salads, especially at night. A good rule of thumb for the first forty days of postpartum is this – would this food be served in a bowl or a mug? If so, great! This means it is liquid and lubricating. If it has to be on a plate, ask yourself is it warm? If yes, that’s much better than a cold salad or a sandwich.
For women to recover from their birth with health and vitality during postpartum, they need warmth and support in receiving this. A meal train is a good choice for new families, while postpartum food delivery is a wonderful option if it is available in your area. To learn more about how Milk + Seed provides postpartum food for new families right after birth, reach out via our CONTACT page.