Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of postpartum care that has developed over millennia.
Postpartum — the 30 to 40 days directly after giving birth – should ideally be a time of retreat, rest and recovery so that a new mother can overcome exhaustion, restore vitality and bond with her new baby. In this postpartum care program facilitated by Brendt Reynolds, personalised care is offered to a new mother within the comforts of her own home. Home visits are conducted over a five-week period during what is referred to as ‘The Resting Month’— a time for creating a supportive space for a gentle transition into motherhood. Nourishing daily meals, warming herbal beverages, and pampering treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, massage, hot ginger compresses and herbal baths) are inclusive in these home visits. Good postpartum support is an investment in your future health based on scientific evidence and traditional wisdom . It delivers profound benefits for both your physical and psychological health .
More about Brendt, your Postpartum Support Practitioner:
Brendt has spent the past 14 years in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong studying and practicing as a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). During his time living in East Asia he became acquainted with the ancient practice of ‘Zuo Yuezi’ 坐月子 and was fortunate enough to witness first hand its profound benefits. He has chosen to bring these gifts, for a new mother and her baby, home to Sydney to share with women in his own community so they too may experience the joys of ‘The Resting Month’.
The Resting Month's personalised care includes:
Personalised support each weekday in your home
Practical guidance on TCM postpartum care philosophy
Delivery of organic broth/soup/slow cooked casserole, that can be eaten periodically throughout the day and night, rich in Qi and blood building herbs to support recovery and lactation, all prepared according to TCM postpartum care principles
Delivery of 2L flask of hydrating warming beverage (healing herbal infusions) prepared according to TCM postpartum care principles
TCM treatment changing day to day according to diagnosis and requirements: acupuncture, cupping, massage, hot ginger compress, full-body herbal soak bath (if a bathtub is available), belly wrapping
Individually prescribed Chinese herbal medicine formulas
Preparation of tissue healing and swelling reducing herbal sitz bath
General support to create and maintain a calming and nurturing home environment that is conducive to engaging in rest and breast feeding
Brendt takes key elements from this ancient practice and creates a nourishing, personalised postpartum CARE experience for the busy, contemporary, urban woman.
The 'Zuo Yuezi' Tradition
In Mandarin it is known as ‘Zuo Yuezi’ 坐月子 which literally means ‘to sit the month’. However, naming this program ‘The Resting Month’ feels less literal and more descriptive. This accumulation of wisdom, passed down from generation to generation, has insisted on building a quiet, warm cocoon of retreat where the new mother can rest, recover, restore her vitality and connect with the new life she has just brought into the world.
Calling upon the old adage ‘It takes a village...’
In many traditional cultures, a woman is gifted this time to heal, rest and replenish as she is tended to, fed and nurtured by others in her community. Remember the old adage — ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? There is no time you will need to call upon this ancient support structure of ‘a village’ more than in your postpartum phase. Remember, you are not alone and don’t be afraid to ask friends for help, or perhaps hire someone to clean your house, or a babysitter for your toddler so you can divest some of the more energy heavy duties. Plan your postpartum period in advance so you can create a dedicated space that allows you to rest, and move slowly and mindfully as you cherish this time and navigate this new territory.
Creating a nurturing retreat for essential bonding
Just as a baby needs time to adjust to being in the world, the new mother also needs time to adjust to her role as caregiver and provider in the quiet comfort of her own home without pressures from the outside world. Creating clear boundaries and a sense of nurturing retreat is essential to you and your baby bonding, getting to know one another, and establishing routine. Fortify yourselves with rest and nourishment before involving a wider circle of family and friends, and the outside world with its bustling traffic and busy schedules. The 30 days of ‘The Resting Month’ are about creating a supportive space for a gentle transition. It is a deep dive into yourself and your baby. An investment in your future health that rests firmly upon the shoulders of traditional wisdom.
Why the need for rest and recovery?
So often during pregnancy expectant mothers spend time imagining their wonderful and exciting new life with a baby and channeling energy into their birth plan. They generally offer little thought to the fact that there may be a period of transition and recovery between the two. The postpartum period brings with it much joy but also utter exhaustion, cramping as your uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size, swollen and tender bleeding tissues, sore nipples and possibly healing abdominal incisions. As a modern culture we often expect a new mother to be whole heartedly pouring love and attention into the new life of a baby with little regard for herself. In traditional culture, the mother must also pour equal measure of these precious things into herself. Taking the appropriate care may, according to TCM philosophy and many other traditional cultures, help keep future illness and depression at bay, preserve reproductive health for future pregnancies, facilitate an easier menopause, and strengthen the body and mind to prepare for the years of motherhood to come.
In developed countries some estimates gauge postnatal depression occurring at rates of over 20%. Research has shown that good postpartum support can have a protective effect against developing postpartum depression .
Taking the appropriate care to restore vitality
TCM considers that a woman’s body is naturally deficient in Qi (ch-ee) and blood after child birth. Labour is an incredibly exhausting process, during which you will have lost an amount of blood and spent a lot of energy. The additive effects of these processes leave a woman’s body in a place of vulnerability where one must take extra care to remain warm, rested, and protected from external climatic influences. The ancient practices of acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, and herbal medicine serve here as excellent envoys in the safeguarding and rebuilding of such substances as our Qi and blood.
‘The Resting Month’ aims to further remedy exhaustion and depletion with meals rich in collagen and nutrients that support hormones, build blood, restore vitality, repair tissue, reduce swelling, and enrich and encourage breast milk production. As your abdomen and organs slowly find their way back to normal, digestion is seen to be slower and weaker, and the body will need to be rehydrated after losing significant fluids during child birth. For these reasons, soups and broths—considered to be profoundly hydrating in TCM—are initially selected for their easy to digest, warming, and healing properties.
Later in postpartum, as digestion improves and the mother begins to feel stronger, more robust hearty soups and slow-cooked casseroles can be introduced. Healing herbal infusions to sip throughout the day and night are a mainstay. Nothing can provide such deep support structures for your mind and body like delicious, heart-warming, and nourishing food. When prepared with traditional wisdom, love and attention, food and drink during postpartum can truly be your medicine.
How are you planning to spend your postpartum period?
In our modern culture, there is little value given to rest. We may at times feel pressured into meeting unrealistic levels of productivity, sacrificing our most important commodity, health. Taking rest for granted often extends to expectations of women's behaviour during the postpartum period. The question is — ‘How can we slow down and do less in a world that continually asks us to do more?’ After giving birth, the modern woman is expected to bounce back quickly – introducing the newborn to as many people as possible, getting back to work, socialising, and even doing yoga or going to the gym. However, according to traditional Chinese wisdom, this is the antithesis of what your body needs during this time of transition and bonding with your baby.
In postpartum: Skillful strategy is required ensuring you remain well.
In postpartum you need to rest, deeply nourish and take care of yourself, so you can be the source of nourishment and support for your baby. You must give to yourself, so you can give to your baby. Skillful strategy is required to ensure you remain well- rested, well-fed, well-supported and well-cared for while you bond and learn to care for your newborn. Allow Brendt’s postpartum program to be this support for you throughout ‘The Resting Month’.
L.J. Miller and E.M. LaRusso. 'Preventing Postpartum Depression', Psychiatric Clinics of North America, March 2011; 34(1): p.53.
R.W. Wertz and D.C. Wertz. Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America (Yale University Press, 1989), p.256.
J. Allison. Golden Month: Caring for the World's Mothers After Childbirth (Beatnik Publishing, 2016). p.17.