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Our Postpartum Kit is Now Available

We are so excited to share our postpartum recovery kit with you! Most of our mama’s take so much care planning for their birth, the weeks after baby arrives are often neglected. To follow up with our recent post on planning for this time, we’ve put together a kit with our favorite postpartum must-haves!

This kit was developed through personal testing by our owner and acupuncturist, Sarah. After the birth of her daughter in February, she tried everything in this kit and more to put together something that would really benefit our patients.

So we’d like to go through exactly what’s in each kit and why it was chosen:

 

Urban Herbs: Nourish the Mama Bone Broth Herbs: This herbal mix put together by Urban Herbs  is a fabulous addition to a bone broth (or vegan/vegetarian bone broth) to help nourish and replenish your body after birth. According to Chinese Medical theory, new mothers should try to consume warming, nourishing foods in the month after birth. This herbal mix, when added to your favorite broth recipe, is the perfect way to add extra warming nourishment to your postpartum diet. These herbs will help your energy level, your sleep, your stress, and general recovery after birth.

Tip: Make your herbal broth ahead of time and freeze so it’s ready to go quickly. You can use it as a base for your favorite soups or drink on its own.

 

Mother Warming Kit: Mother Warming is another Chinese Medical treatment that helps the new mother recover after birth. Typically done a few days after birth, the warming, soothing moxa treatment done over your lower abdomen feels absolutely delightful! Moxa is an herb, mugwort, that is used in Chinese Medicine to tonify and strengthen the body. It is wrapped in paper, like a cigar, and burned near the skin to gently warm specific acupuncture points to help support recovery. Mothers typically love this treatment and it can be done as needed in the month following birth. There are more specific guidelines in our longer post on Mother Warming.

 

Perineal Spray: We cannot say enough good things about this herbal perineal spray from Earth Mama Angel Baby. After birth, using the bathroom can be uncomfortable and you’ll find many women recommending ‘padsicles’ to relieve this swelling. We don’t recommend these as they are often too cold for too long a time and can prevent blood flow and hinder the healing process. Instead, use this perineal spray every time you use the restroom or as needed. It is wonderfully cooling, refreshing, and can support healthy perineal healing. And, as a bonus, if you don’t use all of it before your perineum is done healing, it makes a wonderful after sun toner for your skin!

Tip: For extra cooling you can keep it in the refrigerator.

 

Herbal Bath Soak: Made locally by our friends at FreeSpirit Birth , this herbal bath soak with epsom salt and scrubby is a great way to pamper yourself after baby comes. Let this sachet of herbs soak in hot water and add to a warm bath to support perineal healing and total body muscle relaxation. Let someone hold baby for 20 minutes and take some time to relax and treat your amazing body to some downtime.

 

 

Imperial Tonic Recovery Herbs: This Chinese herbal formula from Evergreen Herbs is an adaptogenic formula designed to support recovery after childbirth. It can boost energy levels, support the immune system and healthy blood production, and promote general physical and psychological wellness. Generally, this formula is recommended 1-2 weeks after birth and taken for about a month to promote optimal recovery.

 

Nipple Cream: Earth Mama Angel Baby has, again, knocked it out of the park. Many mother will attest that this is the best nipple cream on the market. While breastfeeding should not be painful (if it is please seek the care of an independent IBCLC), a good nipple cream applied after breastfeeding can keep nipples from drying out or cracking.

Tip: This is also an excellent salve for cuts and scrapes and make a great lip balm.

 

Belly Oil: This belly oil, designed for pregnancy and postpartum bellies, is a great way to treat or prevent any stretch marks and moisturize skin after baby. It has a light, orange scent that shouldn’t bother pregnancy scent sensitivity and is safe for use around baby. It is, yet again, another way to nourish and support your body after your amazing transformation into a mother.

 

So there you have it! All packed up in a cute little storage bin perfect for the nursery, our postpartum  kit is a great way to get your postpartum recovery off to a great start and pamper yourself a little bit. After all, your body, mind, and spirit deserve to be celebrated after transforming, through birth, into a new mother!

These kits are available in the office or online and we do ship, if needed. In addition to treating yourself, they make a great baby shower gift!

 

The Chinese Tradition of Postpartum Mother Warming

Mother warming is a healing treatment given to women in their postpartum time to support recovery from birth. It can also be helpful to increase energy, and support healthy milk supply.

Mother warming is usually done as part of “Sitting the Month,” which is the Chinese tradition of postpartum recovery involving a full month of staying in bed, among other things. While that does sound a bit strict, or maybe even archaic, postpartum recovery is often completely overlooked and women are praised for “bouncing back,” so, I think, there is something to be gleaned from revisiting this tradition.

 

The process of mother warming is very simple: Moxa, dried mugwort, is burned near the skin to warm certain acupuncture points. The warmth of the herbs is very tonifying and feels absolutely wonderful to the mother receiving it. This is typically done at least once in the days and weeks after birth.

A moxa stick, pictured above is used for mother warming.

 

When To Do Mother Warming

Vaginal Birth: For a vaginal birth, you can do your first mother warming treatment 3-4 days after birth.

Cesarean Birth: If you gave birth via Cesarean, you can begin your mother warming about 2 weeks after birth.

Mother warming, after the initial treatment,  is typically done as needed during the first 3-4 weeks postpartum.

 

Contraindications to Mother Warming

Mother warming can be done safely for most women. However, avoid mother warming if you have an infection of any kind (incision, uterine, or even a cold/flu). Consult your acupuncturist for advice on when to begin or if you have any questions.  

 

Your acupuncturist will give you detailed instructions along with a moxa stick to use for mother warming. Mother warming kits also come as part of our postpartum recovery basket.

If you have any questions, please contact us and we’d be happy to help!

 

Sitting the Month: 6 Tips to Help You Navigate Your Postpartum Time

Our 6 best tips to plan a restful and rejuvenating postpartum month!

There is a saying in Chinese, “zuo yue zi,” or “Sitting the Month” that refers to the idea that the  month following the birth of a baby is a sacred time reserved for rest, regeneration, and bonding with your new baby. After all, birth is an incredibly transformative event, it is rather silly to expect your body, mind, and soul to bounce back to normal activity in a short period of time. In fact, this rush to get back into action quickly is not healthy and can lead to a much longer recovery period.

 

Unfortunately, our society idolizes women for bouncing back and rushing back into work, life, exercise, and their pre-baby bodies. Celebrities, likely with extreme diet and exercise regimens put forth by their teams of professionals, often are the examples of this unattainable image.

 

If this isn’t your first child, you know how tough those first few weeks can be. Your newborn is dependent on you for everything and you are working so hard to figure out what each cry means, teaching yourself how to breastfeed or quickly make bottles while your baby gets more and more upset, and, all the while, expected to feed yourself and maybe sneak in a shower. The whole thing is exhausting and can be emotionally draining.

 

In China, women are encouraged to “sit the month” after birth and remain in bed with baby. Family, partners, and friends take care of the house, cook nourishing meals, and ensure the mother gets the rest she desperately needs. I think we should take a lesson from China and incorporate these theories into our postpartum plans.

 

During pregnancy, you likely found yourself researching, downloading, and revising your birth plan until it was a perfect vision of what you wanted for your birth. The time after baby comes is often ignored. We should, in fact, be putting at least as much effort into the weeks following baby’s arrival to allow for space for healing and recovery.

 

Aside from a much needed list of delegated tasks, desires, meal trains etc, a plan should be worked out to allow you to get the rest and recovery you need and the time you want to bond with your new baby.

 

So here are our tips for navigating your postpartum time:

1. Rest: Your body just went through one of the most single transformative times of your entire life. Give it a break! You nourished and grew a new person, birthed that person, and took on a new role as a mother. This is an amazing feat and it takes time to recover from and get acquainted to your transformed life.

  • For the month after birth, rest as much as possible. Lay in bed with your baby, sit on the couch with your baby, sit outside with your baby. Spend time staring at your baby and, of course, catching up on your favorite Netflix shows. If you feel like getting up and walking a little, by all means get off the couch, but listen intently to yourself. If you feel any soreness, increased perineal pressure, notice an increase in your lochia (the bleeding you will have postpartum), or have any discomfort back off and get back on the couch.
  • Spend time skin-to-skin with baby. Skin-to-skin was likely something you remember from your birth plan, but the benefits of this go well beyond the hour after birth. Skin-to-skin can help support good breastmilk supply, help baby regulate body temperature, and facilitate bonding. So, put on a robe or button up shirt, cuddle up, and enjoy!
  • Limit guests: I know everyone will want to come see the baby, but give yourself a few weeks without a stream of well-intending friends and family. Allow those who will take on a task, laundry, dishes, etc, and tell everyone else to come back later. Entertaining, or feeling like you have to entertain, cleaning your house, and preparing snacks is a lot of unnecessary pressure while you’re becoming familiar with your new role. Additionally, your new baby does not need the exposure to the coughs and sneezes your guests might bring.

 

2. Eat warm nourishing foods: One very big part of Sitting the Month is proper nutrition to replenish your body and support your recovery. The Chinese recommend a diet of warming foods and herbs. Some examples of things to add to your diet are:

  • Ginger: Use in soups or teas. Caution: Occasionally ginger can increase bleeding, so if this is the case for you, stop using it.
  • Wam spices: Use cinnamon, cardamom, chile, etc for cooking.
  • Bone broth (or vegetarian/vegan bone broth): with added warming spices or herbs.
  • Mushrooms: you can add these to your soups and broths for benefit to your immune system.
  • Eggs: These are a great source of protein and are great for pregnancy and postpartum support.
  • Red raspberry leaf tea: to help regulate hormones and reduce your uterine size back to normal.
  • Water, water, water! When your milk comes in you will find your thirst increases quite a bit. Combat that by increasing water consumption. This will also help reduce water retention and prevent headaches and muscle cramps.
  • Avoid cold foods: ice water, smoothies, ice cream, salads, raw veggies/fruits, etc.

 

3. Perineal Support: Whether you gave birth vaginally or not, you will notice some perineal soreness.. If you’ve had stitches or minor tearing you will definitely have some discomfort or even pain as your body heals.

  • Say No to Padsicles:  We recommend against the ‘padsicles’ you might find on Pinterest. That much cold placed right on tender, healing skin can reduce blood flow, increasing overall healing time. Instead, if you’d like to use something cold to reduce swelling, wrap an ice pack in a towel, so the cold you feel is more cool. Combine with an herbal perineal bath and/or spray to speed healing.
  • Perineal sitz baths: A sitz bath made from healing herbs can increase healing time and soothe your sore perineum. You can also use these herbs in a bath with epsom salts for extra relaxation.
  • Perineal Spray: Earth Mama Angel Baby makes a fantastic herbal perineal spray that will quickly become your best friend. The combination of herbs in this spray is soothing, cooling, and can help promote healing. Use every time you use the bathroom or as needed. If you have any leftover after healing, it makes a great after-sun face toner!
  • Prevent Constipation: Your first bowel movements after baby can be really tough, especially if you’ve had any pain medication or dehydration causing constipation. Taking magnesium or a stool softener in the first week or so can really help make going to the bathroom much more comfortable. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water, as this, of course, will help.

 

4. Lactation Support: So many women wanting to breastfeed go into it assuming it is a natural and easy process. And, for some, this is absolutely true. For others, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is so important to have an ally for your breastfeeding journey. They can make sure you are getting accurate, up to date information. We recommend a prenatal breastfeeding class and a visit from an independent IBCLC in the days after birth to check for tongue/lip ties and check baby’s latch to help support breastfeeding. Check out our resources page for our favorite lactation consultants. Many will do home visits, so you don’t even have to leave your house.

 

5. Mother Warming Ritual: Moxa, made from the leaves of the mugwort plant, is used to gently warm points along the lower abdomen in mom’s who’ve given birth vagainally or through a Cesarean birth. This is typically done about 3-4 days after birth and promotes healing, milk production, and alleviates discomfort. It is used on an as-needed basis after the initial warming.

  • This is a great way for partners to help out with postpartum healing.

 

Acupuncture can help treat and prevent many postpartum issues.

6. Acupuncture: There are so many benefits to a course of postpartum acupuncture. We can begin work on restoring your body, support healing, and help treat any issues you might be having with breastfeeding, digestion, sleep, anxiety/depression, etc.

  • Our recommended postpartum protocol is just 3 weekly visits starting at 2-3 weeks postpartum and as needed after that.

 

 

We look forward to working with you during your pregnancy and into your postpartum time! Please give us a call at 865-31503845 or contact us via email with any questions!

 

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Birth Doula

A doula is an excellent addition to your birth plan!

As our patients struggling with infertility finally get pregnant, aside from the joy of finally seeing those two lines, there are many decisions that need to be made. What provider is right for my pregnancy? What type of birth do I want?

Many of our patients have never allowed themselves to consider any of these things for fear of ‘putting the cart before the horse,’ so to speak. So this process, while exciting and wonderful, can be overwhelming and stressful.

One thing we often discuss with our patients, as they get closer to delivery, is their birth plan. It is our desire for our patients to be informed about their choices and have a provider they trust and feel totally comfortable with.  One thing that can really help during your pregnancy and birth is having a doula. As highly trained, non-medical birth experts, they can walk through your needs, fears, desires, etc and help you come up with a birth plan and guide you and your partner through labor.

I asked a trusted doula friend of mine to do a post for our blog about what role a doula can play and why you would consider working with one. So, without further adieu, here is Hillary Ebling with East Tennessee Doulas. 

Hilary and Danielle of East TN Doulas

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am so glad Sarah was able to help you reach this point! Did you know, she can continue to help you throughout your pregnancy?

I am Hillary Ebling, and I am a birth doula and postpartum doula in Knoxville, TN . I work with fellow doula, Danielle Anthony, at East TN Doulas. Working as a doula, we work with expectant families so they may have the best chance of achieving their ideal birth. Our goal is that you feel confident, cared for, and respected during your childbearing year.

As you begin researching how to have a happy, healthy childbirth, you may run across the words “birth doula” and see that this is a person who supports a family during pregnancy and birth. That sounds awesome… but you already spent money on a medical provider, birth location, and higher price tag baby items like a car seat and a crib. You may think a doula is a luxury you should go without. Before your accept this, however, check out these compelling reasons to spend the money on a birth doula.

First, what is the role of a doula?

“Doula” is a Greek word meaning a woman who serves. I’m using a more formal definition of birth doula to refer to a specially trained birth companion (not a friend or loved one) who provides labor support. This labor support includes comfort measures and emotional support. “Comfort measures” means using massage, position changes, water, hot/cold packs, mindfulness, and breathing to help deal with the intensity of labor. “Emotional support” means using reflective listening, positive presence, and reassurance to help increase your confidence and satisfaction of your birth experience.

It is important to notice that doulas play a completely “non-medical” role. Doulas do not diagnose or treat in any modality, nor do we take blood pressure or temperature, fetal heart tone checks, vaginal examinations or postpartum clinical care. What this means as a client, is that you also need a medical provider, whether that is a midwife or a doctor, to attend your birth. In short, your medical providers keep you and your baby safe, provide all medications, deliver the baby, and take care of the mother postpartum, whereas the doula keeps the mother encouraged, comfortable, and confident.

Now that we have clarified the role, what are the benefits of having a doula for my clients?

 

First, a doula is the only team member entirely focused on the laboring parent’s physical comfort and emotional well-being.

Your medical providers attention is inherently split between two different people – exactly as it should be! We all want a happy, healthy mother and baby at the end of a birth. Their training is scientific and this is where their focus should be. Medical providers are often expected to care for multiple patients at a time and usually work shifts of time in the hospital or on-call period.

A doula’s training, on the other hand, focuses on the “art of labor support,” that is, the emotional needs of people in labor, and non-medical physical and emotional comfort measures (as mentioned in the examples above). Our sole focus is on the needs of the mother, not the baby. Unlike medical providers, doulas work with one client at a time. We will join you when asked, either in early labor or later in active labor. We will stay with you throughout, often with only very brief breaks.

 

Second, having a doula can help you have shorter, more satisfying birth with less interventions.

Although the exact reasons for this are unclear, there have been numerous studies showing that doulas help families. The largest systematic review of continuous labor support, reported the combined findings from 20+ randomized controlled trials, including over 15,000 women. These trials focused on the benefits of continuous support (having a support person constantly present throughout labor, not coming and going as family and medical providers often must). Women with continuous labor support are

  • 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively

Why can’t a family member or partner fill the same role for free?

Outcomes were most improved and intervention rates were most dramatically lowered in the group with doulas as their support person, not a nurse, friend, or family member.

But do you need one if your partner is really supportive?

In a perfect world, your doula and your partner work together to give you the best birth possible. We cannot possibly replace the loving, intimate relationship of your partner. We don’t stand in the way of your partner being great labor support – we help him or her achieve it!

Our birth culture puts a lot of pressure on partners. A pregnant parent often expects her partner to be knowledgeable – and good – at a host of new things. You may expect your partner to help you emotionally (by providing reassurance, encouragement, and confidence in you) or physically (by encouraging coping mechanisms like breathing and relaxation and providing comfort measures like massage). Lastly, you might expect your partner to fulfill other roles, like updating family and friends of your labor progress. That’s a lot of expectations for one person to handle! For many partners, this may be the first time he or she has ever set foot in a delivery room or seen labor! Add the love your partner feels for you and your discomfort to the equation, and it can be completely overwhelming!

With a birth team of both a partner and a doula, though, we share the weight of these expectations. You will have twice the emotional support and reassurance. We can alternate providing physical support so your partner is less fatigued by the labor. We stay with you if your partner needs a break for food or to update your family. This way, you are never unsupported and your partner can have peace of mind while handling these tasks. We have seen many labors and can use our experience to provide helpful suggestions for new things to try for both you and your partner.

 

Last but certainly not least, doulas provide informational support to the family.

By “informational support”, I mean explanation and discussion of practices and procedures, and assistance in acquiring any knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about your care. We help you find reputable, evidence-based information that will help you make informed decisions about your birth and your new baby’s care.

In essence, a doula doesn’t tell you how you should give birth. Instead, we share information with you so you can make informed decisions and then support you, whatever your choices.

Ok, so you definitely want a doula, but aren’t doulas expensive?

Often, yes – we are trying both to answer a calling and make a living. Although not usually covered by your insurance, some insurance companies will pay a portion or allow you to pay for your doula out of a health or flexible savings account. Contact your health insurance provider for more information about your specific situation.

DONA International’s Vision is “A doula for every woman who wants one”. With this in mind, many doulas offer some way to cut costs. I offer gift certificates so friends and family can donate to help financially (consider asking for this for baby shower presents!!). We do offer some packages of our services to save a little bit of money when bundling services. I am of course happy to answer any questions you have about my current options email us or give us a call at (865)315-8548.

Bottom Line: With all this information in mind, I urge you to consider carefully the benefits and options to offset the cost before you write off having a doula off as a luxury you can’t afford!