What is the Fourth Trimester? And how can we support the mother during the
Postpartum period?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and culture, the first month after giving birth is crucial to the immediate and future health of both the mother and her baby. This is a period of time, where it is encouraged for the mother to rest, recuperate, and to also be supported. After the previous 9 months of growing a baby, it is not only important to ensure that her baby is healthy, but also she is healthy and ensuring she is supporting her body to recover. In most traditional cultures, in some way shape or form, the mother will rest for the first forty days post birth. In traditional Chinese culture, this practice is known as ‘sitting the month’, where mother is confined inside her home, away from the wind and cold, limiting socialising and is encouraged to rest. The term is is referred to as ‘the gateway’, or Zuo Yuezi, as it is the threshold between one way of being, and an entirely new existence – Your life before baby, and life with baby. The aim for spending dedicated time in this revitalising in-between space, is that
the mother will emerge more beautiful and rejuvenated than before.

So what are some practical ways to reclaim this wisdom?
Firstly, creating a support team around you, which can include asking for help from family members, friends and/ or mothers/ parents groups. If you live remotely, this can also mean having a good relationship with your GP. Secondly, with your support team, creating those healthy boundaries and clear expectations with family and friends that you’ll be spending this time at home to recover. I recommend educating friends and family members about the fourth trimester so they have an understanding of why you are doing it and how it will benefit your recovery.
In addition, prioritising rest, doing absolutely nothing and knowing it is good for you. I also recommend surrendering to the mess in the house, sleeping when your baby is napping throughout the day and not feeling socially pressured to be out and about “showing off” your baby. Priority and focus should be on limiting activity beyond baby care, mother-warming acupuncture treatment and resting as much as possible. In combination with prioritising warmth and warming the body through consuming warm foods, keeping the body warm especially the feet, and
avoiding any exposure to cold including swimming in the ocean for the first 40 days. This will help support a mother’s postpartum recovery, rebuilding her Qi and conserving her Jing for breastfeeding, future menstrual cycles, fertility and even to menopause.

Do you deserve the first four rty days?
A lot of mothers feel as though they don’t deserve or aren’t entitled to this transitional period from woman to mother. Another consideration is a woman’s circumstances during this time, whether she lives remotely, her partner or support person is back at work, she has other young children to take care of or if she is a single-parent. The simple answer, each and every woman deserves some kind of nourishment and support post birth. We have to remember, over the past 9 months, she has grown and birthed another human, that kind of energy expenditure needs adequate time to rebuild. Simple ways a mother can support herself during this stage, include ensuring she is showering daily, opening the windows and doors to let some fresh air in the house or sitting in the sun whether that be on her balcony, in her backyard or at a local park.

What are the Acupuncture treatment recommendations post birth?
There are a lot of benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture post birth. These treatments can support recovery and prevent any disharmonies that may arise, including deficiency of Qi, blood and/ or yin as well as blood stagnation or invasion of pathogenic cold.
These kinds of patterns can make a mother feel depleted, she may experience pain, cold hands and feet, dizziness and lightheadedness, a sense of apathy as well as anxiety and depression. Ideally, I like to see a mother come in for a treatment within the first 1-2 weeks post birth, this treatment is called ‘mother warming’, which is a one-off warming moxibustion treatment to help energise a woman and aid her recovery. The moxibustion is a Chinese mugwort leaf that is used as a heat source to stimulate acupuncture points. This moxibustion stick is used to warm the woman’s abdomen, from the area at the top of the pubic bone up to the navel, this should radiate a nice pleasant warmth feeling in the local area.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, I can also safely prescribe Chinese Herbs if needed in combination with diet and lifestyle advice.

If you would like to learn more about the Fourth trimester, I recommend the following resources:
● The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
● Golden Month by Jenny Allison
● The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach


By Georgia Payten
TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist at The Pagoda Tree.


C95A0E66-6CBB-4C0B-A038-25D7F8DD0D8E 2