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Nourishing the Fourth Trimester

· TCM,Wellness

Yin and Yang, they’re opposites, but can't be without the other. Pregnancy is a state of both yin (nourishing and containing) and yang (warming and protecting). During the postnatal period the body balances between normal depletion and deficiency of blood, qi, fluids, and essence.

TCM Lingo

Qi | Vitality or power source:

- growth and development of the body

- circulation of blood and fluids

- control/regulate metabolic waste

- regulate homeostasis

- support the immune system

Shen | The yang part of qi and our mental spirit. Shen is our consciousness, mental function/health, and presence. It is nourished by blood and replenished when at rest (sleep). This is why sleep is important to our mental clarity, health, and function. The strength of our shen is determined by our essence.

Jing (Essence) | The yin part of qi, it makes up the immaterial and physical part our our genetic makeup. It is also the foundation of our physical processes of growth, development, sexual maturation, and reproduction.

Blood | Holds the important role of nourishing the body. Qi gives vitality to blood and blood nourishes the body within. As the body is nourished, qi is produced. When the cardiovascular system is hindered and blood is not properly nourishing, illness manifest.

Jin Ye (Body Fluids) | Jin is the thin and clear fluids like sweat and tears that nourish tissues and muscles. Ye is the thick and turbid like brain or synovial fluid that lubricate organs ands joints.

- fluids originate from what we drink and consume

- the body filters what we consume to be used by the body (nutrient) or excreted (waste)

Sitting A Moon Cycle

I faked it till I made it throughout my pregnancy, I just trusted that my body was smart and strong enough to know what to do and tell me what it needed. That was only a part of what I needed. I quickly realized giving birth was the easy part. My precious baby was finally here and I was relying too much on Google. I felt like there was a plethora of information that I should've researched beforehand. I didn’t know about the fourth trimester till I Googled about how my newborn only wanted to sleep on my chest and down the rabbit hole I went. [I've come full circle and believe that mamas should follow their instincts, don't get suckered into the Google FOMO.]

The term was coined by Dr. Harvey Karp who found that babies were born too soon. “Babies are like fetuses outside the womb.” The period lasts for about three months. It’s a time of adjustment for baby in the new vast world full of bright lights and loud unfamiliar sounds. For parents we’re figuring out the ebb and flow of life with the sweet addition while functioning with a pair of heavy eyelids.

In addition for moms during this time, it is also about healing. Zuò Yuè Zi- “sitting a moon cycle,” traditionally a 30 to 40 day period of recovery in the Chinese culture. This practice is another post in itself about the do’s and dont’s. My point is that this time should be emphasized on nourishment and replenishment or our bodies as it may be susceptible to aches and pains, slow physical healing, and affect the mental spirit (shen) such as postpartum anxiety/depression.

How Does That Work? 

We are familiar that each organ in our bodies has its function to work together cohesively so that our bodies are able to run like the amazing machines that they are. The heart pumps blood, blood carries oxygen, and the oxygen fills our lungs.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it’s similar. Each organ system has its function to the body. And each organ system has its own characteristics such as their element, emotion, sound, sense organ, season, time of day, and so much more. By having so much detail, it gives a better picture of the body as a whole rather than its parts. It would be difficult and inefficient to travel from point A to B without reference points, having these characteristics of each organ system gives us landmarks and clues to what may be the cause disease or ailments.

Here are some of the organ systems that are important to nourish during this time and what a deficiency looks like postpartum:

Spleen Function: important to the digestive system as it pulls nutrients from what we consume so that the body can continue to produce qi and blood.

Deficiency: poor milk production, fatigue, indigestion, frequent urination, yeast infection, hemorrhoids, uterus prolapse

Liver Function: regulates the free flow of qi which affects blood flow, emotions, digestion, and reproduction.

Deficiency: dry hair/skin/nails, abdominal pain, muscle cramping, scanty or absence of menses, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, mastitis, breast abscess

Kidneys Function: stores jing and responsible for body maturation and reproduction.

Deficiency: hormonal imbalance, low back pain, night sweats/hot flashes, hair loss, constipation, fertility issues

Nourish and Replenish

  • Animal Protein
  • All types of broth soups (fish/beef/chicken/etc) 
  • Fruits (dark fruits are even better)
  • Dark leafy greens, seaweed
  • Congee
  • Black Sesame
  • Eggs
  • Omegas
  • Collagen
  • Mushrooms (Shiitake/coryceps/lion’s mane/etc)
  • Warm spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel)
  • Iron and calcium rich foods or supplements

Low maintenance Bone Broth Soup

If you find yourself with a lack of time, here is a quick and low maintenance bone broth soup you can put together in minutes. You can add whatever you feel or have in the fridge.

1 cup Boxed bone broth (nourishes qi, blood, jing)

1 tbsp Goji Berries (nourishes Liver/Kidney)

1 tsp Fresh grated ginger (warms Spleen)

Drink warm!

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