POSTPARTUM CARE

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!

Hormone Regulation

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.

Stress

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.

Swelling

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

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).

Anna’s News: Traditional Chinese Medicine Increases Breast Milk Supply

by Anna Pyne, LAc, MSOM, FABORM

Acupuncture and herbs are the main treatment modalities in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). I have helped treat a myriad of postpartum women struggling with insufficient breast milk using both therapies. It is important to establish a good supply at the very beginning so that it is easier to maintain it. That is not to say however that TCM is not an effective treatment at a later date.

There is one particular acupuncture point that has the single function of enhancing breast milk. This is quite unusual as typically each point is useful for treating a multitude of different issues. Needling this point is the most potent way of stimulating it. The location is on the outer corner of the nailbed on the pinky finger. It is typically tolerated by most patients quite easily, however for those few that are a bit needle sensitive I have placed a small gold pellet that sticks to the point which does not penetrate the skin. Doing this makes it portable as well, meaning the patient can walk out of the office and continue the treatment outside of the acupuncture session every time the patient presses the gold pellet. Of course there are many other points that help enhance breast milk supply and when a number of these appropriate points are used together with this especially specific one, it greatly impacts breast milk supplementation. Patients have reported starting to feel engorged while lying on the table with the needles placed during treatment. I have also heard feedback (and personally experienced) that more milk is produced at the next pumping session.

There are a number of wonderful single herbs as well as formulas that benefit the breast and support breast milk supply. I typically use herbs with acupuncture when treating this problem for optimal treatment results, but have seen great benefits with using herbs alone without acupuncture, and vice versa. I also teach a class at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) on traditional Chinese herbs for postpartum care, which includes the topic of breast milk insufficiency.

If you have any questions or to learn more please email me at anna@pullingdownthemoon.com or any of our other acupuncturists.

Call our office to schedule an appointment (312)321-0004.

Anna Pyne LAc MSOM FABORM

anna@pullingdownthemoon.com

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