Postpartum Recovery

Since Lizzie was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, she decided to follow a modified traditional Chinese Zuo Yuezi (坐月子, zuò yuè zi), or "Sitting-in Child Month", where she didn't leave the house for a month and ate special foods. If you are fortunate enough to be able to take that time off (and have sufficient support from a partner/family/friends), we highly recommend it (even Western doctors will tell you that the body takes at least 6 weeks to recover).

Rest

The #1 important thing during postpartum is to REST. Ideally in bed. Try to sleep as much as possible.

Supplements

  • Placenta, Placenta, Placenta! - Lizzie found that swallowing her encapsulated placenta pills not only helped her energy levels, but they also helped ease postpartum cramping

  • Vitamin D - our pediatrician recommended Nordic Naturals ProOmega, which is the same as their retail product Ultimate Omega (so get Ultimate Omega—it's usually cheaper/easier to find)...if you take >1200 mg a day, the baby gets enough through your breastmilk

  • Probiotics - you can take them, and there are also ones for your baby! Check out Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic for Infants

Acupuncture/Massage

SF Bay Area Food Services

Teas/Drinks

  • in San Francisco you can find most of these ingredients at Rainbow Grocery in the bulk section

  • Mother's Milk - this "Blend II" from Aviva Romm’s Natural Health after Birth book seemed to help calm our baby down (especially when Lizzie would drink it just before bedtime feeding):

    • 1 oz catnip

    • 1 oz chamomile

    • 1 oz lemon balm

    • 1/2 oz fennel

    • 1/4 oz lavender flowers

    • mix together

    • use ~2 tablespoons per 1 cup boiling water

    • steep for 15 minutes & strain

  • "Chinese Tea" - that's what we called this jujube (and goji) tea or 红枣茶, recipe adapted from this blog...Lizzie found it to be warming

    • 2 liters (~2 quarts) water

    • 1/2 cup jujubees

    • 1/4 cup goji berries

    • 1 finger-sized nub of ginger, sliced

    • Rinse dry ingredients, add to water, bring to a boil and simmer for ~45 minutes

  • Labor Aide - Chinese medicine says not to have cool drinks, but this was very refreshing:

    • 4 cups water

    • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

    • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt

    • 1/4 cup raw honey

    • 1-2 tsp Magnesium powder

    • Pour together and stir!

  • Ayurvedic Golden Milk - adapted from thegreatkosmickitchen, Lizzie found this to be very soothing:

    • 1/4 tsp cardamom

    • 1/2 tsp each ashwaganda & shatavari

    • ~1 tsp honey

    • 1 cup whole milk

    • 1 tsp ghee

    • simmer milk, dissolve in herbs, then honey/ghee, serve warm

    • ashwaganda & shatavari we found online

    • don't have ghee? this page tells you how to make it

  • You Rock Mamma - Lizzie found this to be very calming; from Demetria Clark on Midwifery Today

    • 2 parts chamomile

    • 2 parts hibiscus

    • 1 part rose petal

    • 1/8 part lavender

    • 1/4 part rose hips

    • 3 parts lemon balm

  • Nourishing Blend - Lizzie found that this was good for restoring her depleted energy; from Aviva Romm

    • 4 parts red raspberry leaf

    • 2 parts rose hips

    • 4 parts nettles

    • 2 parts alfalfa

    • 4 parts oat straw

    • 2 parts lemon balm

    • 1 part spearmint leaf

    • add ~4 tablespoons to ~1 quart of boiling water; steep ~30 minutes

Soups/Stews

  • Simple Chicken Soup - this was our go-to easy meal for the first few weeks postpartum; nourishing and warm, and easy to make (also you can get extra stock)

    • 1 whole uncooked chicken (ideally pasture-raised), cut into pieces

    • ~3-4 stock carrots and celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces

    • optional: fennel and/or onion

    • throw everything into a slow-cooker and cook for 6-8 hours

    • optionally separate out the bones (makes it easier to eat)

    • season with salt and/or miso paste before serving

  • Chinese Postpartum Chicken Soup - similar to the chicken soup recipe above, but instead of the vegetables use goji berries, jujube, longan fruit, and ginger; see Authentic Parenting for the full recipe.

  • Pork Vinegar Soup - this very traditional Chinese soup is full of great connective tissue that helps you heal; Mama Tong's has the full recipe

  • Congee - also called "jook", more information at thekitchn

    • ~1 cup rice to ~6 cups stock

    • boil until desired texture

    • optionally add shallots, boiled eggs, tamari/soy sauce, mushrooms, etc.

  • Beef stew - this takes a while (browning the meat is the long step) but is super-hearty and nourishing; adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe

    • cut into ~1” cubes:

      • ~2-3 pounds of beef (chuck eye is best)

      • ~4-5 yukon gold potatoes (or sweet potatoes)

      • ~2 kabocha squash

    • Cut into slices:

      • ~2-4 carrots

      • ~2-4 stalks of celery

      • A handful of herbs (e.g. we used thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage)

    • A squirt of tomato paste

    • ~0.5-1 quart chicken stock

    • Optional: red wine, liver, chard/kale, mushrooms

    • Preheat oven to 300°

    • Dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels; optionally season with salt & pepper

    • Heat the yellow cast-iron pot on medium-high

    • Brown the meat on all sides, a little bit at a time, taking care to not overcrowd the pot; once browned, set meat aside on a plate

      • Deglaze with some stock or wine as necessary

      • [optional: also brown some liver, and cut into tiny bits to “hide” in the stew]

    • Turn heat down to medium, add carrots & celery, brown a bit

    • Add meat, potatoes, squash, herbs, tomato paste

    • Add enough stock to cover everything (can dilute with water/wine if necessary); turn up to high to bring to a boil...add salt & pepper to taste

      • [optional: add some chopped chard/kale, and/or sauteed mushrooms]

    • Once boiling, cover and cook in oven for at least 1 hour

    • Continue cooking, uncovered if not thick enough

    • Once done: optionally add minced fresh parsley, etc. on top

Yoni and Butt Care

Belly Care

  • Bengkung Belly Wrap - unfortunately a lot of the postpartum wraps out there are focused on appearances ("lose inches off your belly!")...Lizzie found that this Malaysian traditional wrap gave her good support, improved posture, relieved back pain, and forced her to take things easier. We bought ours from Etsy seller YourBirth, who also has a website on how to wrap.

  • Belly Paste - Lizzie put this paste under the wrap but found that it was a bit too messy; recipe originally from justamomonamission

    • Mix the following ground, dry ingredients in equal portions (~1 tablespoon each) in a bowl:

      • Tumeric

      • Ginger

      • Cinnamon

      • Clove

      • Cumin

      • Cardamom

    • Add just under 1 tsp of fresh, room-temperature lemon juice

    • Take 2 tablespoons of this combined mixture; slowly add 3-4 tablespoons of warmed sesame oil until it forms a paste consistency

    • Apply paste to skin:

      • clean/exfoliate area (this removes dead skin, warms tissues, and opens cells/pores)

      • Apply to abdomen/sides of waist, thicker in areas that seem more “flabby”

      • Put white, thin cloth on top (to avoid staining belly bind)

    • Alternative "belly paste" - Lizzie took a few drops of ginger and black pepper essential oil, along with some sesame oil, and rubbed this on her belly before wrapping (this was a lot easier and less messy)