Off spring!

by Mary Beth Ladenheim

The starting gun has been fired, and they are off! The birds and bees and trees and flowers are all flinging themselves toward their biological finish line of procreation. The world outside is pretty much singing “Wheeeeee!” as it bursts forth and multiplies. Trees are erupting into flower, bees are going about their business like they don’t know they’re in peril, and the birds are getting wickedly territorial.

We are springing, folks, and that means babies.

My own offspring materialized in the spring of 2011, and since then I – like all parents – have undergone a series of transformations such that sometimes I barely recognize myself. I can say with certainty and sincerity that I don’t know how people do it without acupuncture and herbs. Especially the mamas.

Not because I think mamas are the weaker sex. But because it is the greatest physical (etc) task to fetch a living, conscious being from the ether, grow it, change with it, hold it inside, and deliver it. Regardless of the method of delivery – they all have their healing times and requirements. And very, very rarely do mamas get that time and those requirements met. The body just has to carry on, because now there’s a person whose very existence depends upon you.

There are lots of ideas about what it means to be a modern parent, and a modern mama especially. Should I work? How much? Can I afford to stay home? What are the costs of being away? How long do I breast feed? Is co-sleeping weird? Will I be able to do this?

In acupuncture there is a channel that runs up the middle of the front body that is all about bonding and nurturing. (Pregnant and post-partum ladies, as well as some newborns, often have this channel highlighted in the form of the linea negra.)  There are many beautiful things to say about the significance of this channel translated as the “Conception Vessel;” it forms how we take care of ourselves, how we connect to others, how we understand what love is.

But the bottom line is that for the first few years of a child’s life, nourishment – in all senses of the word –  is the central tenet of effective parenting in terms of acupuncture channels. In acupuncture theory the mother and the child are literally part of the same whole, even after delivery. What is good for the mama is good for the baby, and vice versa. So regardless of how you answer the above questions, if the answer encourages appropriate connection, bonding, and feeding, it’s the right answer.

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