Postpartum Warming for Recovery from Birth

Chinese medicine is very serious about keeping warm. Like, seriously obsessed. No cold is allowed into the body: food should be cooked and warm, and beverages must be warm for good digestion. The body must be kept cozy: socks must be worn, and neck must be protected from drafts at all costs! Definitely no cold plunges allowed. 

Cold is seen as an impediment to good digestion, and a cause of various kinds of pain or discomfort. Most people instinctively avoid the cold, and seek to heat themselves back up if they get chilly. Think of how your face hurts if you’re walking into an icy wind, or how sore your fingers are if you forget your gloves when it’s minus ten outside. Even the ice cream headache is a good example. Warmth on the other hand feels good, and relaxes the body. Think of a heating pad for period cramps or a hot bath after a gruelling day. 

When it comes to fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum, the obsession is particularly intense. The idea is that for a baby to make its home in the womb, the womb must be warm and welcoming. For this reason, anyone trying to conceive is advised to keep their feet, abdomen and low back warm. Why the feet? Because the channels, or meridians, that go to the uterus begin at the feet. If your feet are cold, the channels will transmit that cold to the uterus. (This is also good advice for anyone with painful periods: keep your feet warm, even have a warm foot bath before bed to ease cramps.) 

Keeping warm during pregnancy isn’t usually difficult, since most people run hotter than usual with a bun in the oven. It’s still advised to keep feet warm and avoid getting chilly generally. Cooked foods served warm will be easier on the digestion and facilitate nutrient absorption. 

So, after a toasty warm pregnancy, now it is time for baby to be born. From a Chinese medicine perspective, giving birth allows cold into the body. And from a literal perspective too! A body area that is usually closed and covered is open to the world! If birth is by c-section, in freezing OR the whole abdomen is chilled. Many birthing people struggle with temperature issues after birth, from feeling generally chilly to night sweats. 

There’s a gentle and comforting treatment that warms the uterus and abdomen, recommended for as soon as is practical after birth: moxibustion. Traditionally called mother warming or mother roasting, this postpartum recovery method uses the herb moxa, also known as mugwort or artemisia, for its potent warming ability. A charcoal stick infused with moxa is lit and hovered over the abdomen from pubic bone to navel, back and forth until there is a nice rosy line and the recipient feels pleasantly warm. This method can be used over a c-section scar as well to encourage healing and re-warm the abdomen. 

The treatment is recommended soon after birth, but is noticeably beneficial even years later. Moxibustion can be used together with acupuncture for a healing and re-integrating postpartum session, or as a stand-alone treatment. It’s worth making the time to come in for a session!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top