The Chinese and many traditional cultures emphasised the importance of resting, rebuilding and recovering in the first 40-50 days following the birth of your child.
In Chinese culture it is called Zuo Yue Zi- “The sitting/resting month”.
This is a time to heal during this very important phase of a woman’s life.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standpoint this phase is called a life gateway. An opportunity for the body to treat and overcome previous long-term diseases and ailments e.g digestive disorders, migraines and headaches and skin problems; the list goes on!
From a western lens we tend to dismiss these phenomenons and ideas as pseudo-science and misleading.
So lets examine the science of it- what happens and changes in a woman’s life when she gives birth?
Four of the major hormonal systems are active during labor and birth. These involve oxytocin, the hormone of love; endorphins, hormones of pleasure and transcendence; adrenaline and noradrenaline (epinephrine and norepinephrine), hormones of excitement; and prolactin, the mothering hormone. These systems are common to all mammals and originate deep in our mammalian or middle brain. (1)
The two hormonal processes I want to focus on is the increase of Oxytocin and nor/adrenaline.
Oxytocin, made in the hypothalamus, is our love hormone. It is a hormone and singling substance that reaches peak levels at many stages of labour and in post partum. It helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system commonly called the “calm and connect” or “rest and digest” systems. (FYI Acupuncture stimulates oxytocin regulation, among other awesome things)
In the words of Christ Kresser:
” Recent research
has implicated impaired parasympathetic function in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”- (2)
So now we add adrenaline or nor-adrenaline into this amazing labour hormone cocktail.
Just like Oxytocin stimulated the parasympathetic nervous system, adrenaline our excitement hormone stimulates the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by none other than the sympathetic nervous system.
So we are effectively tapping into our nervous systems from both angles in this hugely profound and rare experience. There is a reason why people say that there is nothing in the world like giving birth. From a physiological standpoint we are unable to fully recreate synthetically the changes the body undergoes during this window.
Hence, why in Chinese Medicine we call this a life gateway. An opportunity to transcend previous health disorders and ailments.
It is a internal wiping-the-slate-clean.
So what do we do in Chinese Medicine?
We spend the first forty days rebuilding the body nutritionally in order to re-enter the world stronger and healthier. From a herbal and nutritional standpoint we do a number of things in the first weeks of postnatal care such as rebuilding energy and strength, wrapping the abdomen to minimise organ prolapse and support the mother.
For more information, reach out to the clinic