After the Birth. What now? Here are four tips to help you through the Golden Month.
Many women feel exhausted & overwhelmed after the birth of their baby and their recovery is overshadowed by the desire to ‘bounce back’. In modern society women are praised and admired for how quickly they are up and at ‘em and looking great post the birth of their baby. This modern day phenomenon is contrary to many traditional cultures where it is common place for the new mother to do nothing more than rest, feed and bond with her baby.
In traditional Chinese medicine this is known as the golden month and new mothers are given special care, food and support until they feel recovered. This month is seen as providing valuable health benefits and allowing a new mother to adjust to her new role regardless if this is her first or third child. As every child, pregnancy & childbirth will be different, the needs of every new mother will differ. This is a time to recuperate and it is important to promote a mothers physical & emotional wellbeing. This is an opportunity to address any health needs that the mother may experience in the recovery from childbirth and start the journey to motherhood supported and confident.
What assists a new mother in her recovery in the postpartum period is can be simplified in four basic tips:
Rest: every new mother is told to sleep when your baby sleeps. This is essential for recovery as newborn babies will breastfeed at all different hours and sleep when you don’t think they should. Lie down for a day sleep with your baby as this will not only encourage bonding but will provide you with some valuable rest.
Nutritious food: new mothers need good nutrition. A combination of carbohydrates, protein & good fats to encourage a good milk supply & provide the needed nutritional needs that are amplified while breastfeeding and recovering from childbirth.
Hydration: new mothers need at least 10 -12 glasses of water each day to satisfy their fluid requirements in the postpartum period. This is to promote lactation as well as assist the heart and kidneys to flush all that extra fluid and interstitial fluid that accumulates in the final weeks of the pregnancy.
Reach out to your tribe & accept help: it is so important to create a supportive circle of people. They can assist in providing nutritious meals during this time that can be easily frozen and eaten anytime, especially when cooking cannot be managed. This is essential for your physical and emotional recovery. Reach out to your mothers group & local breastfeeding support groups in your local early childhood centres as this can be a great source of support & connection with other local mothers. Remember you are not alone and don’t hesitate to ask for and access the help you need.
RECIPE FOR NONNA’S CHICKEN SOUP – This brings such memories from watching my grandmother skim the pot of her chicken broth & one that will bring you nourishment, warmth, health & happiness.
BRODO DI POLLO - ITALIAN CHICKEN SOUP
1 whole chicken (for stock & soup)
2 carrots, peeled and halved (for stock)
3 celery stalks, rinsed and trimmed with leaves removed, then quartered (for stock)
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed, then quartered (for stock)
1 garlic bulb, halved widthways (for stock)
Rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (for stock)*
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried (for stock)
1 handful continental parsley and stalks (for stock)
1 teaspoon peppercorns (for stock)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for soup)
1 medium brown onion, diced (for soup)
1 garlic clove, minced (for soup)
2 medium carrots, diced (for soup)
2 celery ribs, diced (for soup)
1/3 cup dried risoni pasta (for soup)
Salt and Pepper to taste (to serve)
1 handful fresh continental parsley (to serve)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (to serve)
STOCK Place chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Top with cold water till just covered (don't add too much water or the stock will be weak in flavour). Add remaining stock ingredients and let it slowly come to the boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour, partially covered. While simmering, skim the surface of the liquid once or twice to remove any impurities that rise to the surface. Top with more water if required to keep the chicken just submerged.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes. When it has cooled, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat with a fork. Set aside in a covered container.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large bowl to remove the vegetables and aromatics and set aside. Then, wash and dry your stockpot.
SOUP Heat olive oil in the stock pot over medium high heat, then add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and sauté till the onion is translucent but before the mirepoix browns. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the stock to the pot with the shredded chicken and the risoni. Simmer until the risoni is cooked (about 11 minutes, but follow the timing on the pasta packet).
Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir through the cheese and finely chopped parsley then divide between four bowls.
*I keep the rind from finished Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese segments in the freezer for whenever I need to add flavour to simmering soups.
Author: Kyla Mayer, Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Kyla began her acupuncture journey in 2007, when she embarked on her 4-year, full time training that included an internship in BeiJing. After graduating from UTS in 2010 and working in many styles of clinics it was very clear that her passions lie in women’s health. Women’s health has been the focus of her practice for the last 8 years and with already being a practising midwife for the las1 17 years, combining her acupuncture and Chinese medicine knowledge with her midwifery skills happened organically.Find out more about her work HERE.