Post-Partum Confinement and Self-Care

Drink Only Water Postpartum?

This likely comes from the reasoning that if you have leftover fluid from during the pregnancy (about 40% excess fluid), you don’t want to be accumulating more water. That said, plain water (hopefully not cold) helps to hydrate you during this time of convalescence. So, drink your water, but as much as possible:

  1. Only warm fluids
  2. Take it in slowly
  3. If through soups, consider red date & longan, blackbean, goji berry
  4. Good to ‘drink’ porridge instead of rice as a way to get nutritious fluids.

Usage of Sheng Hua Tang

This is a great formula to use for the first week postpartum, barring any medical emergency like excessive loss of blood during pregnancy, problems with coagulation of blood, or any wound infections. It is meant to help with generating blood, taking away old blood, as well as increasing circulation to close up the uterus. It is really helpful for retained locchia, and we have seen women who had one month of postpartum bleeding after the first birth have this duration reduced to a week after the second birth. Natural birth mums can use for 5-7 days, while cesarian mums can use for 3-5 days.

Depending on situation, it can be helpful to continue using this formulation for longer than a week, however this really depends on the individual.

Usage of salt?

The whole idea behind not using too much salt is because the sodiumĀ  in salt exacerbates any retention of fluids in the body.

Most postpartum women are told that it is ok to use a moderate level of salt in the diet, but too much salt will over work the kidneys. For ladies who already suffer from hypertension or kidney disease, or for those who experienced pre-eclampsia or HELLP during the last trimester of pregnancy, you really have to be strict about your salt intake.

From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, excess fluids are eliminated through perspiration, urination or defecation. When salt intake is in excess, it only serves to exacerbate a situation of whole body edema. However, for maintaining electrolyte balance, it is good to have some level of salt intake. Although it is a rare occurrence, low blood sodium levels can result in symptoms of low blood pressure, like dizziness and nausea.

Yes, you need some level of salt in the food to keep the food tasty also. Hence the first principle is to use whole foods and not consume processed foods.

The second principle is one of moderation, which is using bland tasting good food that is NOT too salty or spicy.

Why Sesame Oil Chicken?

Using Sesame Oil Chicken as a dish to tonify the blood was a documented method already in the Tang dynasty more that 1200 years ago! This dish includes the following ingredients: sesame oil, wine, old ginger and of course chicken.

Sesame oil contains poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which when processed in the body, produces prostaglandins which then facilitate the closing of the uterus, expulsion of locchia. A suitable level of wine helps with blood circulation. Ginger helps to detox the body by warming it and inducing a light sweat. It also helps bring back the appetite. Organic chicken is a good source of protein.

Sesame Oil Chicken is most ideal during the second week postpartum. For those who have undergone a cesarean, it can be helpful to start on this during the 3rd week postpartum, after the c-sect scar has healed to a certain extent and is no longer red or swollen.

Its valuable properties notwithstanding, Sesame Oil Chicken is most suitable for ladies with cold bodies pre-pregnancy. Hot bodies may not be suitable for usage of many tonics. In fact, this is where modification of the nanny’s confinement foods with herbs by your TCM is recommended, especially if your body is already a hot body showing signs of inflammation. In these situations, herbs like glehnia root or coix seed can be useful in your postpartum diet. The same applies for ladies who present with hyperthyroidism or Grave’s.

The use of wine in the confinement diet is also frequently debated, as the wine enters the breast milk consumed by your baby. There are also women who react badly to alcohol, in which case wine should be use judiciously.