In a previous post we introduced the idea of a “Sitting Moon”, a Chinese tradition that enables a new mother to be supported in the post-partum period so that she can rest as much as possible and restore herself to radiant health.
During this time and continuing on into early motherhood, there are also things that a new mother can do for herself to encourage healing. These include “mother-warming”, acupressure, meditation, acupuncture and special attention to nutrition. These self-healing techniques help a mother to feel her best to ensure good health for the future, and also so that she can enjoy these precious, beautiful days with her baby. We will talk about all of these things over the next few blog posts.
'Mother warming' or 'mother roasting' is a traditional moxibustion technique performed once arond day four or five after the birth, and it is a tonifying treatment to nourish the mother and aid her recovery. It is performed by the mother's support person in the convenience of her home, and involves using a moxa (mugwort herb) stick to gently warm the lower abdomen and the lower back. This treatment aids healing, gives relief to any discomfort, and helps to tone the uterus by stimulating the blood flow in the pelvic area. It can help the new mother feel rejuvenated and restore her energy.
Preferably, the mother and support person have been shown how to use a moxa stick safely beforehand by their acupuncturist or someone experienced in this therapy. The moxa stick is used to warm the mother's lower abdomen (travelling from acupuncture points CV-2 up to CV-8 and back again) for five to ten minutes or until she feels pleasantly warm. The support person then uses the moxa stick to warm the lower back (from GV-2 up to GV-4 and back again, and BL-23 to warm the Kidneys) for another five to ten minutes. Please note the moxa stick does not touch the skin at any time and the sensation produced from holding the stick above the skin should be lovely and warm, not hot. Moxa is a very strengthening therapy as it penetrates deeply into the body to warm all the acupuncture channels (also known as meridians) to enhance the healing process, and mother warming is a great way to start off your motherhood feeling strong and healthy.
Please note that mother warming should not be performed if the mother has a fever, night sweats, or over a fresh caesarean scar. Contact your acupuncturist if you require further information about this therapy.
Meditation is extremely helpful for all situations in life – motherhood is no exception. In fact, it could even be argued that mothers, with so many competing demands on their time, have even more need to meditate to help them cope with the stresses that come with the job description. Meditation helps us to stay calm, to be more attentive, to gain more insights into our thoughts and behaviour, and provides us with a source of energy to fulfil our daily tasks. Best of all, when you find a method of meditation that you enjoy, its fun and fulfilling, and you will find it something that you look forward to.
There are many wonderful resources out there for meditation. I highly recommend “Buddhism for Mothers” by Sarah Napthali for some guidance specific for mothers. “Meditation for Dummies” by Stephan Bodian, despite the off-putting title, is actually a really great book for beginners. Meditation Oasis is a wonderful website where they have many free guided meditations for you to listen to. And if you are wanting to try something high-tech, OmHarmonics make some great meditation music – its a little pricey, though.
If you want to keep things really simple, here is a very basic meditation for you to try:
Sit in a comfortable place. If you are nursing or holding a sleeping baby, make sure you are propped up with lots of pillows! Pop some relaxing music on if you like, or just turn off your phone for the next few minutes. Make the conscious decision that you will spend the next few moments being calm and quiet. Your to-do-list, concerns and worries can be put 'on pause' until you are finished.
Choose two words that resonate for you right now, that embody a quality that you would like to embrace. Some examples are “Peace” “Calm” “Patience” “Love” etc. Or you could choose a phrase, e.g. “I am at peace”, or “I am a wonderful mother”. You can customise this however you like.
* Close your eyes. Pay attention to your breath.
* On the in-breath, think of your first word or first part of a phrase, e.g. “I am”.
* On the out-breath, think of your second word, or second part of a phrase e.g. “At peace”.
* Try not to think about anything else. Just your breath, and the word(s).
If you feel your mind wandering, its OK. Just notice the thought and tell yourself you will have lots of time to continue thinking about it when you are finished. Then bring your attention back to the breath. Continue in this way for as long as feels good. When you are ready to finish, just open your eyes slowly and take a moment to readjust to being in the room.
You might start out doing this just a few minutes, and extend the length each time you do it. You can set a timer if you are worried about the time, which can sometimes take away the temptation to open your eyes and look at the clock. And the best part is, you can do this anywhere, any time you have a few moments of quiet. All you have to do is close your eyes, focus on your breath, and mentally repeat your chosen word(s) with each in- and out-breath. Having a way to calm our thoughts is extremely helpful and can help you return to the demands of mothering refreshed and reinspired.
I hope this has been helpful for the new mothers out there. If you have any questions or comments about mother-warming or meditation for new mothers, please leave a comment below, or contact me here. And stay tuned for the next part of the series – Acupressure for new mothers.
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