Mother’s Day

Mother’s day

Probably the most profound experience of my life, thus far, is the journey called motherhood. It has made me appreciate my own mother so much more. My mother breast fed me in a time when Dr. Spock claimed it was best to bottle feed. With my own daughter I decided to see how much time in a 24 hour period was used to feed her. Turns out it was an impressive 8 hours! No wonder babies get so chubby.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, mother’s milk requires the same amount of energy to create as menstrual blood.  When women are bleeding, plus breast feeding, the load is actually being doubled. Both bodily tasks require massive support from the digestive system to create these essential fluids. I was aware of this fact, but continued to breast feed my daughter about 15 more months once I began my menses again. It took me about ten years to recover. At the time, it seemed more important that my daughter get at least two years of breast feeding. The invention of the wet nurse now makes so much sense. It was a way to extend a woman’s health, and even her life.
If you, or someone you love, is breast feeding there are some things that will help support the body if the period is resumed. Probably the number one thing is eating liver. Why liver? Because it is rich in blood and is also very easy to digest. I was living in Hawaii until my daughter was 1 &1/2 years old so I did not eat liver after she was born as it was very difficult to find clean sources. Here in the Rogue Valley there are numerous grass fed sources of high quality liver. If you are vegetarian then Chinese blood building herbs are helpful. Liver is still superior however, and tends to be less expensive.
Another important point is to rest as much as possible. That can be challenging if you are breast feeding baby every two hours through the night. This is the time to let things slide. Are you hearing this fathers? If the house is messy, know it will eventually get back on track. Even if a mother is doing nothing but feed the baby she is still manifesting a full time job. That is important for everyone to acknowledge. We tend to think making the baby is the big deal, but  it is really providing nourishment afterwards that requires so much from both parents. Mothers sacrifice sleep with virtually no way to make it up, unless they nap with baby the next day.
Fathers sacrifice sex, and to a lessor degree than mother, also sleep. Something men approaching parenthood should be told ahead of time, in my humble opinion. When a mother is breast feeding the hormones swirling around make it pretty impossible for her to have a sex drive, plus most women are exhausted from feeding baby all night. It’s not spontaneous, but nothing in a parent’s world has that element really, so making dates with your partner where baby is being lovingly cared for by someone else for a couple of hours, can work wonders. Start with a nap and go from there. The rule is to talk, if that is on the menu, about anything except baby.
A good diet of high quality protein can also be helpful. If a vegetarian, focus on seeds primarily. Many grains and breads, for example, are not nutrient dense and will fill us up without providing the necessary building blocks to make high quality milk. Fathers can help by eating in a similar way as support for mother.
Humans are dependent creatures for such an incredibly long time. Raising baby is a lot of work, but there are also tremendous rewards. When we put ourselves in the equation it means that there is more that can be given. It is easy to feel guilt if we are doing something that does not involve baby in the first couple of years. As much as possible, get some time for yourself, too.
If you are still in the incubation period get as much rest as you can now. It can make a huge difference later. I didn’t heed that advice, because I’m sort of a tigger kind of personality, but it would have been so good if I had. Pregnancy that moves things properly into parenthood involves getting in the habit of resting, which provides an awesome springboard down the road.
If you are a mother, who is looking to improve your health after the fact, then acupuncture can be very helpful. As an incentive to mothers, our clinic is now offering a free tune-up for the rest of the month of May. Come in, receive acupuncture and moxibustion, and walk out replenished and restored. Our peaceful setting makes it easy to rest deeply in treatment.
Hope to see you soon!
Happy Mother’s day,
Leslie Shanai