by Meg Gibson, LAc.
Phew! Congratulations Mama, you’ve made it to the other side. From trying to conceive to becoming a new mom there are so many changes you’re facing both physically and mentally. Here are some common postpartum experiences that many new moms experience, and how we can help!
During pregnancy your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are very high and decrease abruptly after delivery. To facilitate breastfeeding your body’s prolactin and oxytocin hormone levels rise. These postpartum hormonal fluctuations can make you feel out of balance, and often result in sadness and fatigue. Acupuncture and massage therapy are both helpful in restoring postpartum hormone balance. Certain essential oils may also bring hormone and mood balance.
Caring for your new baby is a wonderful and amazing time, but can also bring big identity shifts as well as stress for new moms. Acupuncture and massage have both been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. They also support healthy levels of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters associated with depression.
Did you know your body increases fluid volume by 50% when you’re pregnant? Some women experience prenatal swelling and fluid retention throughout their body. Postpartum, many women find their bodies working to eliminate this fluid by having night sweats. A great way to aid your body in reducing fluid is massage and acupuncture. We can facilitate the elimination of excess fluids with massage by promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage. Massage also helps your body shift water to the “right” places by promoting tissue stimulation. Meanwhile, acupuncture helps to promote fluid drainage and increase circulation by using specific acupuncture points and moxa to help drain dampness.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge for some moms. Massage can relax and open the neck, chest and shoulder muscles and can improve lactation. Researchers have found acupuncture may support lactation by increasing prolactin secretion, the hormone associated with milk production. Did you know there is a specific Acupuncture point whose main function is to improve insufficient lactation? One of our patients recently shared how acupuncture helped her with her milk supply…
“I never struggled with my milk supply until I got a severe stomach flu. I really couldn’t get any food down for three days. For the first two this didn’t seem to affect my supply at all, but by the third day I noticed my supply starting to dwindle to almost nothing. My four month old boy was getting hungrier and hungrier, and I was getting more and more nervous…I’ve heard so many stories of women’s supply drying up never to come back. I was taking every herb available at Whole Foods but nothing seemed to be working. Finally I went to PDtM for acupuncture and couldn’t believe the results – my supply started to return within SEVERAL HOURS of my session! My baby boy is now 7 months old and has a huge appetite – thankfully, I’m still able to provide for him!”
Healthy Weight and Proper Calorie Intake for Nursing
Now that baby has arrived, you may have the desire to have your pre-baby body back. This is a great time to meet with one of our nutritionists to discuss how to safely return to your pre-baby weight while still maintaining enough calories for breastfeeding (if you’re nursing).