Supporting a Safe and Healthy Pregnancy Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnoses are now included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) beginning 2022. The inclusion is good news for practitioners and patients, as TCM is increasingly becoming a part of global health care. One of the areas where TCM can help is during pregnancy where a woman can manifest symptoms that need intervention or treatment.  Chinese medicine, when used properly, could offer a safe option to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Herbal Medicine for Expectant Mothers 

TCM has several components such as acupuncture and herbal medicine. Much in the same way that traditional medicine can assist in improving fertility rates and eventually in conceiving, it can also help during the gestation period. Pregnant women can take herbs such as ginger, chamomile, or peppermint that reduce the symptoms of early pregnancy specifically nausea or morning sickness.

However, it should be noted that there are other complications that may arise if you are pregnant. As the body undergoes hormonal changes, you will also experience side effects. For example, the placenta produces hormones that can contribute to an accumulation of glucose in the blood. If your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, sugar levels will increase and a pregnant woman might develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Fortunately, it resolves once a woman has completed pregnancy or has given birth.

In the meantime, there are several things that you can do to control GDM. If properly used, herbal medicine can help bring down glucose levels. Other ways to manage the symptoms of GDM include wearing of stockings for good circulation, paying attention to diets, and exercising.

Acupuncture to Consolidate Energy

Acupuncture is another key component of TCM that can benefit pregnant women. It should be noted that the usual precautions apply -  avoidance of infection and dangerous pressure points.

For expectant moms, you don’t want to touch pressure points that can induce any pain, touch vital organs, or puncture the fetus. In addition, there is a list of acupuncture points that must be avoided because of their oxytocic effect which may induce the mother to go into labor or at worst, a miscarriage.  Overall, acupuncture may be practiced using gentle needling that will aim to enhance a woman’s energy without over stimulating or disturbing the pregnancy.

TCM can benefit a pregnant woman in several ways. It can consolidate her energy, improve mood and enhance overall health contributing to a safe and healthy pregnancy.

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Beautiful featured image photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič - @specialdaddy on Unsplash


The Five Best Ways To Boost Your Fertility With Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Aimee Laurence

Trying for a baby is a time to build a closer connection with your partner and to focus on what life will be like with another member of the family. Though when you feel you have been trying for a long while, your fertility starts to come into question. This can put pressure on couples and families, lead to lower self-worth and prolong increasing your family. There are many natural ways that women and men discuss that aid fertility; these are five tried and tested methods that use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help you have a baby.

1. Focus on your health: diet and exercise and mindfulness

A woman’s reproductive system requires the whole body to be in balance and good health for a balanced and healthy pregnancy to occur. Men’s reproductive systems also require the body to be in optimal health to produce healthy and strong sperm. Diet and lifestyle are key. TCM takes a focus on bettering the health of the entire body alongside targeting the reproductive organs.

With age, we are more exposed to potential health hazards and toxins in our environments and may make poorer dietary and lifestyle choices. Eliminating mucous-promoting foods such as gluten and dairy will improve the health of your reproductive tract. Minimize caffeine, alcohol and white foods – sugar, salt and flour.

“Foods that increase sperm quality are seafood (especially squid, eel and cuttlefish), Chinese yam and ginkgo biloba. Alcohol has a negative effect on sperm quality and sex drive is increased with zinc-heavy foods such as peanuts, chicken and eggs,” says Lee Connolly, traditional Chinese medicine expert at Academized and Assignment Service. Fertility can be reduced when taking part in intense exercise more than four times a week. On the other hand, gentle and regular exercise is brilliant for the health of the blood – vital for good fertility.

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Also take time to promote a positive mindset in your life. Keep a healthy sleep hygiene and stay present. This will help you avoid stress if you have been trying for a long time.

2. Find a TCM specialist

There is a huge range of resources that can teach about TCM, but the best place to go for advice is someone properly educated in it. AcuFinder and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are great reputable places to look. An ideal practitioner will be experienced in understanding women’s health and fertility.

3. Knowing when there is a problem

If you have been experiencing a lack in fertility for more than a year and are under 35 (and your partner is under 35), or if you have had this issue for at least six months and are over the age of 35, it may be in your best interests to simply go to a doctor. This could be a TCM practitioner or medical doctor. Identifying if there is an issue early will increase your chances of having a baby.

4. Understanding hot and cold foods

Internal heat is developed when a person has too many “hot” foods. And there are many ailments that are caused by an over-consumption of “cold” foods. This isn’t about temperature, but about the actual properties of the food substances. “Neutral foods stimulate the spleen, appetite and enhance nourishment. Always keep moderation in mind when thinking about your diet,” says Karen West, health writer at Big Assignments and Ox Essays.

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

5. Warm your abdomen

In TCM, the lower abdomen is seen as carrying the fire of the body. Infertility can, therefore, be caused by a cold abdomen affecting the uterus. This can easily be counteracted by using a hot water bottle or heating pad each evening after a period up until ovulation. Ovulation pains or severe cramping can be aided with using castor oil to accompany the heat. TCM is one of the oldest medicines in practice and has grown from millennia of use, encompassing nutrition, sophisticated herbalism, tui na and qigong as well as acupuncture. Aside from fertility, a woman’s reproductive cycle is a major indicator of her health – talk to
a TCM specialist for more information on this and for personalized advice. TCM can be as beneficial as stimulating ovulation in women with no periods, helping make cycles more regular and reducing endometriosis.

Image from Chatelaine Magazine

Aimee Laurence can be found offering her expert insights as an educator at Essay Writing Service and BoomEssays, where she mostly writes about college life. Aimee also tutors at Essay Roo academic service.


Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

Pregnancy, until recently, had been a bit of an abstract concept for me. I have always thought of it as a wonderful, magical and beautiful experience, and one that is probably one of the most important and profound in any woman's life, I just hadn't ever done it before. So far, it has been an amazing education, and it is only going to get more intense in the next couple of months, especially when I get to the birth part. I have always found that going through things is the best way that I can learn and bring those experiences to my patients. And what I have learned so far, is that pregnancy is the ultimate exercise in letting go.

In my experience, how you are pregnant (and give birth) has a lot to do with how you live your life. It has been interesting to see all of the pregnant ladies coming and going from the birth centre over the past many months. Most seem relaxed, and that meshes well with the general atmosphere of the birth centre, as it is quiet and very comfortable, looking more like a little house - with comfy couches with lots of pillows - than a medical facility with bright lights and people rushing around in scrubs.

My experience with people outside of the birth centre environment has been a little bit different. There are always a lot of questions and anxiety surrounding pregnancy and birth. Inside my circle of friends, there is support and calm about the whole situation. We are all on the same page when it comes to this subject. Many of us are healers. Hippies. Trust in the universe, nature and our bodies. There is no anxiety, only love and support. But from the outside, the reaction is noticeably different. For one, pregnancy seems to be the ultimate conversation starter. Complete strangers will come up to you and ask about how far along you are, if it is your first baby and if it is a boy or a girl. It is sweet to see how seeing a pregnant girl really brings out feelings of joy in complete strangers. People in the grocery store see your belly and smile. Random strangers will come up to you and congratulate you, or tell you that you look beautiful and radiant which has been really lovely. Everyone seems to be really excited and happy about impending babies. And they are pretty cute, so who can blame them?

From what I can tell from past patients and many mothers that I have spoken to, is that I have been really lucky with my pregnancy so far. I have not had any morning sickness or any problems whatsoever. There were periods of intense eating (which was alarming to anyone around me who had the pleasure of witnessing me eating for eight or nine people), and a few weeks, after a large growth spurt, some intense sciatic pain accompanied with pain in my back. But thankfully the pain resolved itself and the insane eating has slowed down a little and now it seems I am only eating for five or six. It is still impressive to watch and my mother almost cries with joy to see me eat that much as I have always been thin, *too* thin as far as she is concerned.

Pregnancy and Letting Go

One of the most profound things I have experienced being pregnant is the overwhelming feeling of having to let go. Perhaps this is difficult to explain, but I will try. The first thing that went, although I did have to willingly let it go, was all sense of dignity. Granted, after med school and learning about all the things that can happen to human bodies, your sense of dignity is significantly altered. But going through something like pregnancy takes it to a whole new level. First of all, your body is doing things that you never thought were possible. There are the things that you learn about pregnancy in your textbooks, and then there are the "other" things that happen when you are pregnant that are new and surprising. Not everyone experiences all of these things of course, and there is a wide array, but without getting into details let me just say that this has been humbling.

 

Pregnancy and Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from www.thespiritscience.net

We have a lot of body issues in our culture. Women are taught to not only be wildly successful in their careers and at home, but they are taught that being beautiful, fit and thin are virtues as well. It is a lot of pressure, and I know from the ladies I see in my practice, that it takes a toll. Many women come with feelings of inadequacy, who are constantly fighting their bodies and who give way more to the people in their lives than they give to themselves. And it still amazes me how these women - beautiful, successful women with amazing talents, who have incredible children and great relationships can still feel that they are not enough and should be doing better. We could all, in my opinion, use a little more self-love.

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

When you are pregnant everyone wants to give you advice, and the number of books and blogs out there about pregnancy are overwhelming. I actually found some articles about how to lose weight when you are pregnant. Yes. Why in gods name would you want to lose weight while you were pregnant? The answer is that you wouldn’t. And there are lots and lots and LOTS of articles about how to lose weight after pregnancy, how to tighten up belly skin (and other things), get rid of stretch marks and so forth. I see a lot of information about how to get your post-baby body back and I know it is a concern for a lot of ladies. The thing is, that when you have a baby growing inside you, you are supposed to gain weight. Granted, you should be eating well and getting everything you need to help your baby grow and develop but that is going to cause your body to change. And that is ok. It is marvelous actually. You are making a human being, and that is awesome.

I know that this whole process, the process of pregnancy and birth, is a lot easier if you can relax and let go. Easy to say I know but for some, so much harder to do. One of the reasons that I chose to have a baby not with a doctor or OBGYN and instead with a midwife, is that midwives respect this process. Their job is not to intervene, but to support you and your body because they believe (and I also believe) that your body at least, knows EXACTLY what it is doing. It was designed to do it. If you can really accept that this is true, then pregnancy and birth will be a lot easier for you.

There are a lot of things that women fear about childbirth, which is understandable. For instance, pain is one of the biggest. It is completely normal that when you actually think through what is going to happen, that you would have some feelings of anxiety about it. Of course. But there are many ways in which we can cope with that pain. Women, especially, are very good at this. Many meditative practices are excellent for pain management. Deep breathing. Internal martial arts. And being in control of your state of mind are some. Fear, as an emotion, contracts. It tightens and makes things small. And many women go through pregnancy and labour with these feelings which actually intensifies pain. The hospital environment also, with all the chaos, bright lights and doctors taking control away from the mother, all feed this fear and can intensify pain. Creating a relaxed and calm atmosphere can decrease feelings of discomfort and pain enormously. Because everyone has a different idea of what a comfortable environment is, it is good to think about it so that you can consciously create it for yourself. Not just with things like pregnancy and childbirth, but with any situation that you know scares you or makes you uncomfortable. Do things for yourself that calm and soothe you and help yourself get through the experience with positivity, expansiveness and joy instead of fear and trepidation.

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

Another thing that I have noticed that I have really had to let go of, is my ideas about how I want this whole thing to go. Not only my pregnancy but giving birth as well. I am a strong willed and extremely stubborn person, so this whole letting go thing has not come easy. I have been working on it my whole life. A lot of it came from the discipline of many years of martial arts (bless them). A lot of it has come from some serious work on myself, self-reflection, writing and working through demons, and some more has come from my meditation practice which has helped me more than I can express to get through difficult times and put things in perspective. These things have helped in every aspect of my life, and I know are helping me now with my pregnancy and will help with the birth process.

When thinking about it I realized that I had some fears when it came to the birth. I had to be honest with myself and realize that what scared me was what I didn’t want, which was to have a baby at the hospital. I didn’t want to deal with doctors who might try to force me to have drugs or a cesarean which might inevitably lead to me putting said doctor into a headlock or worse and us both ending up on the evening news. So I had to face this fear and really come to terms with the fact that if for whatever reason I do have to go to the hospital to have a baby, I will have to accept it and not fight. I will have to let go and accept it or the entire process will be unpleasant for me, and for my baby.

In conclusion, I have tried to keep my ideas about pregnancy and birth pretty loose as far as how I would like everything to go. I keep my desires about things general like - I would like to have a healthy baby, rather than I must have a water birth with a midwife with no drugs on or after my due date. Of course, I have an idea of how I would like things to go, but I am not married to it and if it changes I have worked through my feelings so that I will not be devastated or disappointed. A lot of this is the excellent keeping things in perspective skills I have acquired over the years. So, what is amazing about this experience. I have had an amazing, practically symptom-free, healthy pregnancy. At the ultra sound (which was a mind blowing experience, wow!!) I learned and saw that I had a fully formed beautiful baby who has all fingers, toes, organs and is super healthy. I am having this baby with a person that I love madly and who is an amazing partner and will be an incredible father. Every one of those things is a blessing and I am grateful for every single one of them, and I make sure to be thankful for them every day. I am grateful and I want to make sure my baby can feel that too.  In the end, the most important thing is that whatever happens, a healthy baby is the result. How he or she decides to come into the world is largely up to him or her. I for my part, will do my best to be calm and relaxed and make the journey as easy and lovely as possible. And I am thankful for all these lessons in letting go and look forward to applying them to the rest of my life - and I am sure that they will be useful when raising a tiny human too. :)

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

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Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

 


Top Toxins to Avoid in Pregnancy

This infographic thanks to mercola.com

Toxins to Avoid If Pregnant

When pregnant, you should take extra care with the foods you eat and the chemicals you use in and outside of your home. There are many sources of toxic exposure that may put you, and your unborn baby, in harm's way. If you are expecting a child or know someone who is, share this infographic on the most common environmental toxins that pregnant women should avoid.

Top Toxins to Avoid in Pregnancy

* Featured Image from www.themominmemd.com