I had my daughter in 2003 in Melbourne. When I was discussing my birth and postpartum plan with my mum, who lives in Japan, she was surprised by how different the expectations in Australia were.
My mum asked me how long I was staying at the hospital after the birth. I told her it would be an overnight stay and I will be going home, provided that there were no unusual risks when giving birth. She mentioned that there is usually a postpartum hospital stay of five days to one week in Japan.
She also asked me how long I was planning to stay at home. There is one month of postpartum confinement custom in Japan, as it is believed that how you spend this period will affect the bond between the baby and mother, and the mother’s recovery.
I laughed it off and didn’t take her advice seriously. But looking back I wish I did!
If you can, honor this time to replenish the lost fluids, Qi and Jing to bring the body back into strength and vitality. This rest period is encouraged in many Eastern cultures to prevent issues such as fatigue, arthritis, back pain, frequent urination, infertility, and depression.
It is an intense transition. After birth, your body goes through so many changes in almost every metabolic, and hormonal process in your body. There are a lot of healings that need to take place. You are producing milk for the baby.
It is an important time to feel supported and nourished by those around you.
I think it is important to talk about the expectations and pressure from society. Comparing ourselves to others who “seem” to get it all so naturally…… babies that sleep through, breastfeed with ease, can be intimate with their partners straight away, get into a pre-pregnancy bikini, go back to work, and juggle work and home life like a “true” feminist, etc, etc.
Social media can be a great place to connect with others. But if it creates anxiety and you can’t stop comparing it may be a sign that you need to take a break from social media, or unfollow those that make you feel self-conscious.
Do we even want to go back to being and looking like what we used to? Going through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is one of the biggest transitions that we go through in life as a woman. You have changed fundamentally in a physical, emotional, and spiritual way. It is a shame not to honor this change in ourselves and the incomparable beauty that modern society often failed to acknowledge.
You would want to include food that are nourishing the blood, and tonifying the Qi, as well as concentrating Jing strengthening foods.
Make sure you are getting enough protein to build Jing and ground, complex carbohydrates for energy, and a boost of serotonin. healthy, unoxidized fat for balanced hormones.
Here are some great foods and herbs to include postpartum.
Please do consult your physician if you have any medical issues or have any health concerns, especially when it comes to herbs. These herbs have been consumed safely for centuries. But of course, it may not apply to your constitution.
Astragalus (Spleen Qi, Yang Qi, tonifies Qi and blood)
Ginseng (Spleen, strongly tonifies Qi)
Dong Quai (Spleen, Liver, tonifies blood)
Codonopsis (Spleen, tonifies Qi)
Goji (Liver Kidney Yin)
Hemp seeds (Spleen)
Rose (Spleen, Liver, regulates Qi)
Eucommia Bark (Kidney, Liver)
Black sesame (Liver Kidney Yin, nourish blood)
Black beans (Kidney, Qi, Blood)
He shou wu (Kidney, Liver, tonifes blood)
Prepared Rehmannia (Kidney, Liver, tonifies blood)
Schisandra (5 organs)
Green leafy vegetables (Liver)
Beetroot (Blood nourishing)
The smooth flow of Qi is important to feel relaxed, energized, and positive. As well to looking after your spleen and kidneys during postpartum the liver needs attention as it is responsible for the flow of qi in the body. Eat plenty of green vegetables, take herbs that help the liver detoxify, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
Moving your body and breath can help qi circulate smoothly. Gentle yoga, walking, Qi gong, dancing, and other movements are recommended. Be aware of rigorous exercises which cause you to sweat excessively and deplete your Qi and Jing.