The Dao Does… Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine Postpartum Recovery Broth
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the first month after giving birth is crucial to the immediate and future health of both mother and baby. A time to rest, recuperate, and be supported. By planning ahead for the fourth trimester not only supports postpartum recovery but also the future menstrual cycle, fertility, and menopause.
The practice is traditionally known as ‘sitting the month’. Originally, sitting for a month was what a mother in China would do. She would be confined inside her home, away from the wind and cold, limiting socialising and encouraged to rest. The mother would be supported 24 hours a day with meals, massage, and abundant support with the baby. Surveillance that the mother would be following these guidelines would be by her mother or mother-in-law to ensure her recovery and future longevity. Sitting the month is still encouraged culturally in China with fourth trimesters in China available in a confinement hotel.
As will all great traditions, they tend to evolve with the times although it is exciting to see that now in Western culture, the fourth trimester is being encompassed and implemented in a mother’s recovery from pregnancy.
As mentioned, the idea of support, rest, and a specific diet is of paramount importance for a women’s postpartum recovery. Chinese Dietary Therapy is a wonderful tool to support postpartum nutrition which makes a significant difference to the experience a mother has in her fourth trimester and her ability to recover well. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the postpartum diet should focus on nourishing Yin, Blood, and Qi and the way the food is prepared should be considered. In Postpartum care, we are supporting the body to be warm which involves cooking foods by using a slow cooker, boiling and roasting foods rather than eating raw foods.
When recommending resources for my pregnant patients to prepare for birth and their fourth trimester I recommend Gentle Birthing, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley, The Golden Month by Jenny Alison, The First Forty Days by Heng Ou.
A recipe that I highly recommend for patients is one that Jenny includes in her beautiful resource for new mothers. I recommend that the soup be prepared during the nesting period of the third trimester and frozen. It is important to note that the soup should not be consumed throughout pregnancy.
Chicken soup broth is famous in Traditional Chinese Medicine to nourish and warm the body. In the Fourth trimester in China, new mothers are recommended to have a diet of only Chicken Soup for one month postpartum, we do not recommend this although we recommend one bowl/cup daily throughout the first forty days.
This specific chicken soup broth recipe includes Traditional Chinese Herbs to tonify Qi, strengthen Yin and Blood. I have modified this recipe to use a prepared Free-range or Organic chicken rather than a whole chicken which includes the fat glands, gizzard, and feet.
1 x whole Free Range or Organic Chicken
1 x Large Brown Onion
2 x Carrots
3 x Celery Sticks
1 x Bunch Parsley
Water to cover
Ground black pepper
Few slices of Fresh Ginger Root
Chopped Spring Onion
Season with Salt to taste
Traditional Chinese Herbs
30g Huang Qi ( Astragali Radix ) Tonifies Qi
30g Dang Shen ( Codonopsis Radix ) Tonifies Qi
10g Dang Gui ( Angelicae Sinensis Radix ) Tonifies Blood
30g Shan Yao ( Dioscoreae Rhizome ) Tonifies Qi
30g Yu Zhu ( Polygonati Odorati Rhizome ) Tonifies Yin
15 pieces Dao Zao/ Red Dates ( Jujubae Fructus ) Tonifies Qi
There are two methods that I recommend, depending on the availability of tools in your kitchen.
Method One with a Large Saucepan or Stock Pot
Method Two with Slow Cooker
By Elizabeth Cullen