Sitting the month for postpartum recovery
The first month with a new baby is a magical and difficult transition.
Your postpartum body is still exhausted from birth, possibly scarred, and you are under a lot of physical stress with sleepless nights, getting to know your newborn, and maybe figuring out breastfeeding.
Chinese medicine & acupuncture have a long tradition of helping new mothers recover through postpartum practices called "sitting the month", or 坐月子.
In Chinese, this is literally translate as "sitting the month," because new mothers are pretty much expected to just sit around and do nothing for a month while they recover from childbirth. The traditions can be very strict, but here are a few key principles to help your body bounce back after baby.
General principles of sitting the month
It takes a village to raise a child, and this is all the more true right after birth. Get all the help you can get ! A new mom in Chinese tradition has no business cleaning the house, working, working out at the gym or cooking meals. She is the new queen that needs to be served.
1. Let us not rush recovery
Sitting the month typically lasts 30 to 40 days. You were carrying and growing a human for 9 months, went through delivery... It will take time to find a new balance. Birth is an incredible transfer or "Jing" or life essence, from your personal reserve onto the next generation. Replenishing afterwards must be slow.
Days 1-7: A new Bliss. You will usually feel exhausted from delivery, but as the oxytocin (the love hormone) kicks in you will be in awe at your newborn
Days 8-15 is when it all truly starts. You might still be bleeding, and you are still healing. You may now start to wonder how to take care of yourself & this new little person
Days16-22: Finding the new normal. Your baby most likely is pooping regularly, your are starting to understand the cues. You may feel isolated, alone, and exhausted from the feeding. Breasts might become irritated and tender.
Days 23-40: Falling into a sense of rhythm with baby getting longer stretches of sleep.
Don't forget that postpartum is a long recovery, that goes far beyond the first 40 days. Some talk of a 4th trimester, lasting for 3 months after baby is born. Others need up to a year to feel similar as before baby arrived. It is not a race... listen to your body.
2. Stay warm, stay in
The idea is that you have just lost a lot of blood, you are vulnerable to the elements, particularly to cold. You might not feel the effects right away, but cold might lodge itself deep in the tissues and manifest itself later in life. In fact, Chinese doctors attribute a lot of old age arthritis to lack of care during postpartum.
Do not drink cold water
Do not eat raw foods
Do not walk barefoot
Do not go into cold water
Avoid to sit right next to an AC
3. Rest & Replenish
You want to continue taking your prenatal supplements.
You can also replenish blood by :
Drinking Jujube tea (a Chinese red date)
Going to your acupuncturist & herbalist
Read more about postpartum concerns
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