Chinese Medicine can be used during your pregnancy and can aid with a number of symptoms.
Chinese Medicine can aid with:
- Morning sickness
- Digestive issues – reflux, heartburn, bloating
- Emotional issues
- Maintaining a pregnancy during the first trimester
Chinese Herbal Medicine and the first trimester
The first 3 months are the most unstable in a pregnancy. CHM will focus on maintaining a pregnancy during the first 3 months, especially if a woman has experienced miscarriages prior to this pregnancy.
During these 3 months, blood and qi are directed by our body to the uterus so that the developing baby has all the essential nutrients and energy that it needs. This can cause an imbalance in the flow of qi and affect our digestive system leading to morning sickness, nausea, heartburn, loss of appetite, fatigue and reflux.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine are used hand in hand during treatment.
Chinese Herbal medicine is specific to the individual and can only be given within a consultation with a registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner.
Beneficial Foods To eat during the first trimester:
- Lotus root – calms the Shen (emotions), aids digestion, promotes bowel movement and metabolism.
- Daikon root – improves digestion, eliminates gas, increases absorption of nutrients.
- Chinese Cabbage and cucumber – cooling vegetables. Vegetables as a group, cool the body, detoxify and increase metabolism.
- Button and ShiTake mushrooms – improve digestion and clear out phlegm.
- Goji Berries – These are full of antioxidants and tonify the qi, helping to replace energy.
Foods To Avoid:
- Raw foods
- Salty, spicy and fried foods – excess salt causes fluid retention, spicy foods can cause indigestion and heat.
- Leeks– said to affect the secretion of hormones.
- Fruit with a high sugar content – such as watermelon, sugar cane, bananas. These destabilize the blood sugar levels and lead to excess weight gain.
- The spacing of meals. Eat the biggest meal at the beginning of the day. Eat the heaviest and most protein-rich meal for breakfast. Then a lighter meal at lunch and the lightest at dinner. You should snack approximately every 2-3 hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Have dinner by 6.30pm at night – this allows for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients and enables a good night’s sleep.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and the second trimester.
These months are the most stable in Pregnancy.
Begin getting regular massages, increasing the frequency of massage to once a week as you approach delivery.
Here in CHM we focus on specific symptoms that may arise for the individual.
Acupuncture will be used to treat pain, lower back pain, sciatica, pelvic instability, and digestive issues.
Chinese Herbal medicine will focus on calming the Shen (emotions), so it will aid with stress, anxiety, depression, worry, insomnia, digestive issues, and edema.
Suggestions to help during the second trimester of your pregnancy:
- Take more frequent breaks now, your belly is beginning to get bigger and the blood flow and circulation in your legs are not as good. Avoid excessive sitting, if working long hours, take a break every 50 mins and go for a 5 min walk to the bathroom, or get a warm drink. Try and at least step outside for some fresh air.
- Begin using a belly band, or SRC shorts for support of growing belly. This will protect your back.
- You can use Bio-Oil, avocado oil, vitamin E cream and take vitamin C to aid with reducing stretch marks.
- From the 6 month mark, avoid picking up older children & heavy bags/objects.
- At 7 months, begin taking warm as opposed to hot showers.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and the last trimester.
Edema (water retention will begin to occur during these months, as well as sciatica and pelvic instability.
The growth of the fetus impedes blood flow to the lower legs and varicose veins may appear.
Chinese Herbal medicine can aid with edema, Acupuncture will be used mainly for sciatica, lower back pain, and pelvic instability.
Suggestions to help you in the last trimester of your pregnancy:
- Avoid prolonged standing.
- Eat small but regular meals.
- Use a pregnancy pillow when sleeping.
- Soak your feet in Epsom salts 20 mins before bed because this aids with sleep and muscular cramps.
- Elevate your legs through the day and especially at night.
- Limit your salt intake.
Chinese Medicine and the last month including preparing for the birth.
In western medicine, it is the procedure to have an exact due date, and once the baby is over that due date induction is often performed.
However, in China, great reverence is given to the final month of pregnancy and we begin to prepare the woman and the baby for the birthing journey and to tonify the body to ensure that the mother has enough qi and blood to enable labor and birth to occur quickly and easily.
Much emphasis is on preparing the body for labor and the first month postpartum. We begin this process at 36 weeks and recognize that the body and the baby will initiate labor when they are ready. The focus during this month is to support the women, build up qi and blood and strengthen her lower back and loosen the perineum to enable quick labor.
I highly recommend hiring your own midwife or doula for support throughout the birthing process, and a postnatal doula to aid with postnatal recovery.
During this month it is important to open up the hips and lower back to enable a quick and easy birth and to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Being relaxed facilities labor and reduces the incidence of vaginal tears.
It is recommended that you begin perineal massage at about 36 weeks, this reduces the incidence of vaginal tears and episiotomies.
Squatting should be practiced as well to help with opening up the hips and stretch out the tendons and muscles.
Chinese herbal formulas are given in this month to encourage and assist with easier and faster labor.
Acupuncture for birth preparation and prenatal massage are also important during this month as it helps prepare your body for labor, as well as helping you to stay relaxed as much anxiety, fear and worry can creep in during this month – about birth and beyond birth as to how you will parent or just cope.
There are certain formulas that can be given during this month to aid labor, and teas can be given during labor if labor has stalled.
You must consult with a Chinese Medicine Practitioner for these to be prescribed.
Diet and Lifestyle recommendations:
During this month it is important to begin to prepare for your life once your baby arrives.
- Begin cooking nourishing foods that freeze easily and stock your freezer, bone broth soups are highly recommended, bolognese sauce with mince is also another good option.
- Attend one of the Australian Breastfeeding Association breastfeeding classes – these give you lots of information about breastfeeding and what you can expect. If you are not in Australia then contact your country’s Breastfeeding Association or support people.
- Rest as much as you can
- If worried about breastfeeding – consult with a lactation consultant, you can book in through a private consultant or through the hospital
- Practice calm birth or hypnobirthing – have them playing as you fall asleep
- Take time to be with your partner
- Meditate and walk daily
- Have a birth plan, but be prepared to alter it
- Soak your feet at night in an Epsom salt foot bath for 20 mins, this will help move fluid retention, ease muscle aches and pains and aid with sleep.
The above will begin to get you prepared for life after you give birth.
If you would like to book a time where we can organise a personalised treatment plan so I can support you throughout your pregnancy, then you can book it here now.
Chinese herbal medicine can aid with symptoms but can only be prescribed by a registered Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner. All formula are specific to the individual and can only be taken by them.
I am a registered practitioner of APHRA. If you would like to find another who is in your area then head to the website link here: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx
Information adapted from lecture notes at RMIT, Gynecology and Obstetrics 2012 and from 7 Times a Women, TCM Professional Series Book 1, Dr LIa Andrews, DAOM, L.A.c, Alcyone Press, 2013