Traditional Chinese medicine [TCM] has been practiced across wider China for thousands of years, with first records dating back over two millennia (China Education Centre, 2019). TCM encompasses various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise, massage and dietary therapy to assist individuals in maintaining health (Colby 2013). In recent years, TCM has begun to gain global recognition and be embraced by many western medicine practitioners as beneficial complementary therapies for their clients.
One of the main principles of TCM is that the body’s vital energy, or ‘Qi’ as it is known, is a life force that needs to flow in harmony in order for the body to function and maintain optimal health (Colby, 2013). When the body is suffering, whether it be physically, spiritually, or emotionally, TCM states that there must be a disturbance in the flow of Qi.
In TCM, pregnancy and childbirth are seen as a gateway into a uniquely different and potentially enhanced state of being. But during the birth, the mother transfers a large portion of her Qi (life essence) to her child. After birth, she is depleted of blood, which is linked to the loss this vital life energy. The mother is therefore weak and vulnerable when exposed to cold temperatures. In Traditional Chinese culture, the first four weeks after birth, known as Zuo Yue Zi, the mother is encouraged to relax and do as little as possible so that she can recover.
During this period of rest, the mother is nurtured by her family in order to fully recover her strength and vitality. A key point of Zuo Yue Zi is focused on warming the mother from the inside out. Warming foods, drinks, herbs and spices are prepared for the mother to nourish her body and her blood. The placenta helps to warm the kidney channel, promotes Qi absorption, supplements the Qi essence and nourishes the mother’s blood. The Traditional Chinese Medicine method of preparing the placenta with warming elements of lemon, ginger and chili are important aspects of the postpartum recovery, utilized by many women today.
China Education Center. (2019). Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.chinaeducenter.com/en/cedu/tcm.php
Colby, J. (2013). Using Traditional Chinese Medicine in Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum. Retrieved from https://childbirthcollective.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/using-traditional-chinese-medicine-in-pregnancy-birth-and-postpartum/