Postpartum Abdominal Painaccording to TCM

What is Postpartum Abdominal Pain?

Postpartum abdominal pain is a common condition experienced by women after childbirth. It encompasses various types of discomfort in the abdominal area, ranging from mild cramping to severe pain. This pain can be associated with the uterus contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size, the healing process after a cesarean section, or other post-delivery complications. Understanding and managing this pain is crucial for new mothers, as it affects their recovery and ability to care for their newborn.

How does TCM view Postpartum Abdominal Pain?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perceives postpartum abdominal pain as a manifestation of internal disharmony or imbalance post-childbirth. Unlike Western medicine, which often focuses on the physical aspects of post-delivery recovery, TCM considers this pain as indicative of disrupted energy flow or Qi, and imbalances in the body's vital substances like Blood and Yin or Yang. TCM seeks to identify and treat these underlying patterns of disharmony, viewing postpartum recovery as a holistic process.

Root Causes of Postpartum Abdominal Pain in TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), postpartum abdominal pain is primarily attributed to two distinct patterns of disharmony: Cold-related conditions and Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus.

The first category, Cold-related conditions, often occurs when there is an internal Coldness or lack of warmth in the body. This can manifest as a sharp, colicky pain in the abdomen that is alleviated by applying warmth or pressure. The presence of cold can disrupt the normal flow of Qi and Blood in the body, leading to pain and discomfort.

The second category, Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus, is characterized by a stagnation of fluids in the reproductive system. This can lead to symptoms such as prolonged lochia, menstrual irregularities, and a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen. It reflects an imbalance in the Body's Fluid metabolism and is often accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue and a sensation of fullness or bloating.

These two categories underline TCM's holistic approach to postpartum recovery, emphasizing the need to restore balance and harmony within the body's systems.

Explore below more details about what might cause Postpartum abdominal pain according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • Cold
Detailed description of the cause


In TCM "Cold" as a pattern of disharmony refers to a specific type of imbalance within the body's systems, often linked to a deficiency or weakness. It's not about feeling physically cold or having a common cold, but rather a metaphorical description of certain symptoms and underlying conditions. When a TCM practitioner says someone suffers from "Cold," it usually implies that the body's Yang energy, which is warm and active, is insufficient or overpowered by Yin energy, which is cool and passive. Symptoms of Cold in TCM can include a general feeling of coldness, cold limbs, pale complexion, low energy, slow metabolism, and a preference for warmth. ... see more

Cold Patterns That Can Lead to Postpartum Abdominal Pain

Common Symptoms: Menstrual Cramps Cold Sensation In Lower Abdomen Infertility Late Menstruation Dark Menstrual Clots Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Uterine Hypoplasia Endometrial Hyperplasia

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Interior Cold Postpartum abdominal pain, Abdominal cold sensation, Hernia-Related pain, Flank pain, Abdominal pain relieved by pressure and warmth... see more Dang Gui Sheng Jiang Yang Rou Tang | Wu Ji San | Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang
Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels Abdominal pain after childbirth, Menstrual cramps, Cold sensation in lower abdomen, Infertility, Late menstruation, Dark menstrual clots, Postpartum abdominal pain, Abnormal uterine bleeding, Uterine hypoplasia, Endometrial hyperplasia, Endometriosis... see more Wen Jing Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Postpartum Abdominal Pain

To treat Cold-related postpartum abdominal pain in TCM, specific warming formulas are used. One such formula is Dang Gui Sheng Jiang Yang Rou Tang, which includes Yang Rou (Mutton) as a key ingredient. This formula works by warming the body's interior and dispelling the coldness that causes abdominal pain.

For conditions involving Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus, Wen Jing Tang is often prescribed. This formula, containing Cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi), is designed to invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation while addressing the accumulation of Dampness and Phlegm. These targeted treatments are aimed at correcting the underlying imbalances, thereby alleviating postpartum abdominal pain and promoting recovery.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address postpartum abdominal pain, organized by cause and by formula type.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Cold
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation
  • Formulas that tonify qi and blood
  • Formulas that release the exterior and warm the interior
  • Formulas that vent membrane source

All Formulas Recommended for Postpartum Abdominal Pain Caused by Cold

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Wen Jing Tang Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels
Dang Gui Sheng Jiang Yang Rou Tang Interior Cold
Wu Ji San Interior Cold
Chai Hu Gui Jiang Tang Interior Cold

All "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation" recommended for postpartum abdominal pain

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Wen Jing Tang Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels, Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus... see more
Shi Xiao San Not applicable

Acupoints for Postpartum Abdominal Pain

In managing postpartum abdominal pain, TCM also incorporates acupuncture. For pain related to Cold conditions, acupoints like Shiguan KID-18 are emphasized. Located near the umbilicus, this point is effective in regulating Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen, crucial for alleviating pain caused by internal coldness.

For addressing Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus, Zhaohai KID-6, located below the medial malleolus, is used for its properties in nourishing Kidney Yin and clearing Empty-Heat. These acupoints are selected to specifically target and rectify the patterns of disharmony causing postpartum abdominal pain, demonstrating the depth and precision of TCM's approach to postnatal care.

Explore below some acupoints used to address postpartum abdominal pain, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Kidney Channel
Zhaohai KID-6

Zhaohai KID-6

Approximately 1 cun below the medial malleolus tip, over the joint space between the talus and the calcaneus.

Shiguan KID-18

Shiguan KID-18

3 cun above the umbilicus, 0.5 cun lateral to the anterior midline.