Creating birth injuries
These days birthing is a dangerous business because what was common sense is not prevailing. More worrisome is the act of applying ice in birth or to women who are in the post natal period, when their bodies are really weakened from all the exertion and the loss of blood, lack of food, and general hormonal transitions.
Why is cold offered?
Because pain is seen as something to be stopped.
Why is the pain there?
To herald the need to be careful as trauma has happened, and healing is required.
What COULD happen in these situations instead, is warmth — heat lamps after a warm, salty Sitz bath was what was on offer until very recently after birthing. A heat lamp would then be wheeled in to your room, and the area dried and warmed.
There are myriad homeopathic and nutritional supplements that could assist in healing and flooding the body with what it needs to heal quickly and well.
In Chinese medicine, the two major reasons women have problems post-natally are invasion of cold and loss of blood. One often leads to the other.
Perineal short term gain
KATE saw me one week after birthing. She had had a vaginal tear and chose not to get it stitched. In hospital she was given as much ice as she wanted to numb the area. When she was assessed by a midwife, she was told it had not even started to heal 6 days later. Of course it didn’t — suspending the healing through icing the area is only going to LENGTHEN the time taken to be in pain.
In addition to this — Kate actually stopped the ice after three day as it felt awful.
Is no-one thinking?
Even before taking into account the long term effect on a woman’s body, the application of cold causes decreases blood flow to the area which slows down any likelihood of healing. I can only hope that now I have removed some of the cold, her body is strong enough to not fall prey to the modern woman’s scourge — mastitis. This may not be possible as post birth women are the most vulnerable to external invasion of cold they will ever be in their lives.
After birthing a woman’s body is most weakened. At his time, she can either choose to really look after herself; resting and keeping a very low profile; remembering that her forebears often took to their beds for a few weeks; or do what is now current ‘best practice’ — invade her body with cold, so it is without feeling, and race back to her usual routines, as though healing after birthing and breastfeeding was automatically going to happen.
Often it is in the actual birth suite the problems start, as mum is really cold immediately AFTER birthing and very often goes into shock. This can show up as uncontrollable shaking and feeling frigid and not being able to be warmed. Often there is then also cold offered — to suck; to place on the wounded perineum; as a invading extra in with the blood that is transfused; as part of the very cold oxygen offered; or as the general chilliness as the ambience; or being in theatre on a freezing metal tray.
Unfortunately the treatment of choice is currently not what WAS — expressing extra milk to relieve the pressure in engorged breast that has worked over decades — but the new model that is no doubt taken from sports medicine where the young male body is at its peak, and not in a highly weakened state as a newly birthed mother’s.
LAURA saw me 6 days after her baby was born. I had asked her how she got all this cold in her, as the first thing I do when a patient arrives is check to see if the belly is cool — and hers was very chilly. This means to me that there is cold invasion — and as I had seen her a week prior (to induce the baby) I knew it was not here before.
The visiting midwife had placed wet nappies in the freezer to ice up to be placed on her engorged breasts — which she did. She said even with the iced packs on them, they still felt really hot — and when she went to bed (ice packs discarded) she felt as though there was ice all through her chest at the bone level. As her husband had been rapt at the help he found in the birthing manual What Dads Can Do during birthing, he asked her the next morning what I had said about engorgement — and there it was ‘on no account use cold or ice on breasts’. So they were visiting to try to avoid the breast abscess reoccurrence that she had had with the first baby.
After the cupping she felt vastly stronger and the general back weakness and tiredness she came in with had gone.
I have had many women come in with mastitis (and often wondered why).In times past, women did not routinely expect to be so afflicted — and they had no cause to — no-one would have ever thought put ice on engorged breast, or a new mum’s body ANYWHERE. It is as simple as respect — it is not natural to use something that actually hurts to help. And the cold penetrates deeply in a vulnerable woman’s body and lodges there indefinitely. This is why there is an epidemic of not just mastitis but bleeding and infections and prolapses and incontinence — all supposedly because of the natural birthing — but really as a consequence of bad nursing.
It is often what is stopping further pregnancies, because the cold impacts on all the circulation of Qi and blood. It is obvious that it is there — it can be felt and observed through changed functions and sensations (see later).
So many women see me after they have had a horror story to live through — all because modern birthing is a little like emotional killing fields — why is the clock the master? Why is not home birthing where everything is on ‘woman time’ accepted as being safer — as it is?
On top of what was already a weakened body:
Using cold short term can cause all manner of long term issues that when seen through the orthodox lens, looks totally unrelated. This means that the usual medical framework is not inclusive enough, as a basic mechanical knowledge and understanding of the human condition does not go far enough in explaining life.
Using cold weakens the Spleen Yang — which is usually already compromised due to women doing far too much and not seeing the post natal period as a time of rest and bonding in the home. This leads often to her just overworking her body, so the inherent weakness post birth as her body is healing from all that work making and birthing and now feeding a baby, manifests as real problems — prolapses, haemorrhoids, incontinence, feelings of inner weakness maybe infections, bleeding out of turn, and possibly on into more severe metabolic issues — as allergies, food sensitivities, low thyroid functioning (often signalled by hair falling out), immune disorders, mood and sleeping problems.
Often the cold thoughtlessly applied can stir up not just current issues, but start chronic and apparently unrelated ones. Here NELL tells her digestive/allergy tales . . .
”I have suffered from hay fever/severe allergies for most of my adult life. This is not just to one allergen but to multiple. They also went through my milk to give my infant daughter horrendous problems with colic and rashes.
I have been through various allergy clinics and to no avail. Almost anything and everything gets up and irritates my nose. I’ve spent years being treated for every computation of what might be happening, but the results have always been very temporary, with the hay fever returning within a week. No one ever mentioned the temperature of what I was doing before — I was on all sorts of exclusion diets, regulating all sorts of things — but never paying attention to the conditions under which my body was expected to work.
It was obvious that I was not very strong. Everything seemed to disagree with me. And it seemed so random — sometimes things were OK and other times I was a mess — apparently doing and eating exactly what had seemed to be fine another time.
Once I realised the difference that temperature (of all things) made, I am in charge of whether I am ill or not. With the simple removal of cold weakening my body, there is no recurrence of sneezing, cold hands, and frigid feet. Maintenance now is common sense — always wear my slippers inside. Keep my body warm. Nothing cold or cool to eat or drink. I’m now allergy free.
If I chose to walk barefooted, if I take something out of the fridge and do not warm it up, I’m riddled with hay fever again. Solution simple — stay warm and keep cold away from me.”
Fast forwards to the birth suite. Everything going well until the doctor pulled on the cord and it detached and she bled far too much, so was taken into theatre to stem the flow. She was shaking so much (in shock) so much that she wondered how he can re-stitch her. The nurse inserted oxygen into her nostrils — which was SO ICY that she immediately started getting really bad hay fever. She ripped out the oxygen tubes and was amazed that they are so unobservant surely if she is reacting badly to something they would stop doing it?
Back in the ward, her haemorrhoids were so bad that she is offered and takes the ice pack — to numb the sensations. When she came to see me with vast mastitis and then digestive problems and then urinary tract ones, I was slow to pick up the cold invasion. Why would anyone imagine that such a vulnerable person and an acupuncturist to boot — who didn’t know about this as they are no longer taught the importance of looking after the body (so much of the modern courses are now run on the biomedical ones) would allow this to happen to them?
So, once I started cupping the cold out she often instantly felt her allergic attack go into remission — no needles — just pulling the cold out undid what was stopping her body from working properly. Without this model it could be decades of ill health, and all that really needs to happen is go back to where old fashioned common sense would have us all — looking after ourselves better.
If you have been only aware of the ‘science’ based models, it would be a case of not knowing what you did not know. Nell did not know how she was contributing to her problems — even though she is an acupuncturist — so what chance have the rest of the non Asian patients got? Who can be even bothered to look after themselves well?
PENNY — arrived with dreadful haemorrhoids after the easy birth of her big baby boy. She had a freezing belly (this is 10 days after birth) and yet again — an ice pack on her perineum. The cold wastes the yang — something has to give. Digestion: ability to transform food and fluids appropriately, especially given the task ahead of making milk for months and months. Circulation of nutrients: getting what is needed to where it is needed. Stop the bleeding after remaking the uterus post birth — reshaping mum’s inner being. Keep the tissues in place: especially if there is already a weakness there — it may be the one that loses out. So here she was with a dreadful bottom problem. When breastfeeding, there is a lot of sitting.
This was further aggravated by her past history of poor vascular integrity. She continued to have haemorrhoidal and also mastitis/breast cysts problems that needed ongoing support as she fed her gigantic fully breastfed baby.
She knew to avoid all cold, to never walk about with bare feet and to only drink warmed water — and she needed to be vigilant — as her constitutionally weakened Spleen energy was at its limit growing baby and keeping her well, and her structural integrity together.
Wounds not healing
We are all different and she may not be representative of others who have no apparent effects at all — YET — of the cold application that seems to be so fashionable presently in maternity care.
ELLE was a midwife, had just had her baby and was suffering from mastitis — and there was the cold belly. And what happened to her? She had listened to me telling her about the dangers of cold, and hadn’t allowed the wet nappy in the freezer to be placed on her breasts — but — she was very chilled (often a shock reaction after birthing) and figured this was the problem — so I cupped her navel also, and she felt all different sensations of cold being drawn out from very different locations — and then she was warmer and the belly was far warmer.
Whilst this was happening, I was telling her of the problems cold was causing other new mums. She said that she had noticed as a midwife that often wounds were not healing; the stitches were dissolving and NO healing had happened often women had to return to be re-stitched.
So what is happening? We have forgotten that allowing warmth and blood to the area aids healing — and that cold causes the lessening of circulation — as well as numbing pain. Possibly in a few years — just as a few years ago no one would have been so silly as to use cold anywhere near a woman’s body — the tide will turn and again heat will be used. It FEELS more comforting and doesn’t get in the way of the healing process, and doesn’t CREATE all the drama that Chinese medicine can see coming.
Morning sickness next pregnancy
Cold lurking well after its entry
Another acupuncturist in birthing discovered that she needed to save herself. There was un-stoppable bleeding and the doctor was speaking of hysterectomies. She then got her husband to grind his finger nail into a point on the big toe and the bleeding stopped. She arrived to see me with the second pregnancy, thanks to her own knowledge base, it is even possible as she saved her own uterus.
LYNNE was plagued with shocking morning sickness. At 10 weeks, she really doubted she could make it. She felt strong nausea and had no appetite, as if something were blocked in her abdomen. It was very uncomfortable. She states of the experience of cupping her navel (my way to remove cold permanently):
“The cup was placed on my navel and the strength of the pulling sensation took my breath away. I breathed through it and felt a very strong drawing up of energy. After a few minutes, the pulling sensation began to come from the ache in my lower back and then another part of my back, moving around seemingly at random.
It was like the cup was vacuuming out all the pockets of cold that were stuck. I had no idea all that tightness and tension was sitting there. Eventually, the pulling sensations eased off and the cup was removed.
After a big sigh of relief, my whole abdomen felt warm and all signs of tightness and nausea had gone. I had not felt that good since before my daughter’s birth”.
Depending on her constitution — any woman may react badly or not at all to the invasion of cold. The cold may sit inside her for decades, but it will re emerge at some point.
Life time Ill health
She may get very flabby and overweight, or may get even further depleted as bleeding seems unstoppable — as she is not strong enough to contain her blood in the vessels. Menstruation may become a great drain.
Over-bleeding, either too frequently and /or too much is NOT normal, and needs adjusting as it further weakens a body to have to make all that extra blood to be lost monthly.
Read more about getting cold and its effects.