After now having experienced the birthing process and postpartum recovery myself, I am certain of one thing: the “fourth trimester” is real, and not for the faint of heart! The mental and physical acrobatics of navigating this new world together is hard, as it wasn’t just a baby that was born, it was also a parent. As I now begin to transition out of this postpartum phase, I feel less engulfed in the experience of adjusting to parenting, and more in the process of coming back into myself. Such an important process of motherhood (and also in the practice of acupuncture) is learning to care for yourself in order to care for others.
I realize now that discussing the fourth trimester and all it brings is a vital conversation: while we frequently talk about getting pregnant and about what to do while we’re pregnant, the conversation seems to end there. We rarely discuss the hazy few weeks and months after having a baby and how it can be such a confusing and isolating time. While this period can be a particularly jarring time for everyone adjusting to this new life, none feel this more than mom and baby, especially given the whirlwind of hormonal changes that occur after giving birth.
In my experience, the thing to remember during the first few weeks is this: no condition is permanent! You are all healing from the birthing process, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and that takes time. Your body will not look like this forever. Additionally, your sleep patterns have just hit a big, sudden change, and the effects this change and the resulting sleep deprivation can have are huge, so try not to take anything that is done/said at this time too personally.
Throughout this time, the tools of Chinese Medicine have been key for both me and my newborn son, Max. I was able to utilize a combination of acupressure and Tui Na for his tummy aches in the early days, before a baby’s digestive system was fully formed. When he had a stuffy nose, some pediatric acupuncture came in handy as well. For me, postpartum care was especially important to help replenish my body and soul after childbirth. A combination of acupuncture treatments, abdominal massage (to get the organs back in place!), and custom herbal prescriptions was key to getting me back on track.
As I enter the fourth week back from maternity leave, I reflect back on these past few months and am at a loss for words to adequately describe the momentous changes I’ve been through. Nothing can possibly prepare you for the staggering heart-exploding-in-your-chest feeling of being on the receiving end of your baby’s first smile, but I’m really excited to get back to myself. I am so looking forward to picking up where I left off, meeting new people, and bringing this new knowledge into practice, so that we can continue to learn and grow together throughout 2018.
To hear more about Alison’s experience or learn about how postpartum acupuncture can help you, schedule a consultation at Naturna Institute today!