Honoring the Postnatal Experience

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Modern day prenatal care offers a pregnant woman enough options to make her head spin. Here in Portland, OR we have access to doulas, midwives, prenatal pilates, birthing centers, nutritionists, dozens of options informed by both Western, natural, TCM, and traditional or folk medical practices. Once the baby is born, too often the importance of recovery time and self care of the postnatal mother can be overshadowed by the fast pace of life and baby care. Our westernized culture here in the U.S. has yet to develop a widespread importance of postnatal care practices that honor the experience and the incredible journey of childbirth.

Pregnancy and childbirth are acknowledged as depleting experiences in many traditional cultures, and their practices reflect the importance in rest, nourishment, and recovery care for a postnatal mother to support her physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing and return to balance. Many of these cultures hold the belief that if a woman does not follow proper recovery postpartum practices, she may experience illnesses later in life (1). We see this in Western culture especially in the prevalence of incontinence, uterine or bladder prolapse, musculoskeletal issues present in the low back and hips, and digestive stress that postnatal women experience even years after childbirth. Traditional postnatal practices typically include a specified period of rest and activities to abstain from, specific foods to eat and to avoid, herbal treatments, instruction to maintain warmth and abstain from being cold or damp, and specific bodywork practices to support the mother’s recovery. 

Holistic bodywork,  focused on the abdominal and hip region, can support postnatal recovery for new mothers. Gentle techniques are used to encourage the abdominal organs back into their post-pregnancy state and help ease muscle tension in the hips and low back. During a post-natal massage session we incorporate this gentle work along with self-care education so you can continue to nourish yourself every day. 

https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/traditional-postpartum-practices-and-rituals-qualitative-systematic-review-2007-cindy-lee