Pregnancy is a very meaningful, important and joyful period for a woman, but it also comes with frequent medical appointments, heightened concern for health, mental strain and a greater sense of physical responsibility. These feelings can become overwhelming for some, and it can be difficult to maintain the balance and energy necessary for having a healthy pregnancy.
Chinese medicine has been restoring mental and physical balance for centuries and can help pregnant women with a variety of pregnancy issues. Acupuncture and certain herbs can treat nausea and vomiting and gestational diabetes, prevent preeclampsia, and manage fibroids, fatigue, low back pain, headaches, heartburn and hemorrhoids. Acupuncture also restores mothers’ energy after giving birth and alleviates depression, anxiety and many types of postpartum pain. It can also treat constipation, repair and tone after the physical trauma of birth and tone the blood, especially if much was lost during the birth process.
Regular treatment throughout pregnancy boosts the health of the mother, prevents complications during pregnancy. Chinese medicine influences baby growth and development as well. Pregnancy is broken down into trimesters in the Oriental medicine model. During the first three months treatment is designed to keep the baby intact and avoid miscarriage. There are also treatments for morning sickness and enhancing healthy appetites to avoid malnutrition. The next three months are the time for tonification and relaxation, preparing the body and mind for labor and monitoring baby growth and development. Treatment during the final months is aimed at avoiding early labor that may occur due to weakness or deficiency in the mother.
Balancing Yin and Yang Energies for a Healthy Pregnancy
Although pregnancy is considered a marriage of yin and yang energies, yin dominates during this time. The yin cycle is one in which energy is being accumulated, assimilated and stored; it’s a time of rest, receptivity, quietude and rejuvenation. A more active, yang energy is needed for birthing, however. The balance of yin and yang cycles is of particular benefit to mother and baby and greatly contributes to having a healthy pregnancy. Acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs help to restore and maintain this balance.
Three organs play a critical role during pregnancy, according to Oriental medicine. The Spleen is the origin of birth and baby growth and development. The Kidneys store pre-Heaven essence, which is the inherited essence given by our parents that nourishes the fetus before birth. Pre-Heaven essence also controls sexual maturation, growth after birth, fertility and development. The third organ, the Liver, stores the blood and ensures smooth flow of qi. These are the areas focused on during treatment to ensure overall health of the mother.
Addressing Pregnancy Complications with Oriental Medicine
Complication during pregnancy can be treated with Oriental medicine. If the Chinese medicine practitioner is asked to be a part of the birthing team, it is possible to reduce pain and relax the mother during labor. It is also possible to reduce the duration of labor by encouraging birth with special pressure points.
Malposition of the fetus (when the baby hasn’t turned and will be born feet first) is taken care of in Western medicine with massage and caesarian section. It has been discovered that using a moxa stick on acupuncture point UB67 (on the little toe) can help turn the fetus. In fact, this method works in 95 percent of observed cases within three to 14 days. The variation in times depends on each woman’s condition and emotional state, but the moxa, which emanates a unique level of energy and a smoldering, penetrating heat, also helps the mother to relax.
Pharmaceuticals can have harmful side effects for both mother and child, and Chinese medicine is the perfect alternative to some drug treatments. Although certain points and herbs are contraindicated, many are safe and beneficial during pregnancy, with no side effects or dangers. Along with the conditions already mentioned, acupuncture, herbs and moxibustion can treat postpartum syndrome, cold in the uterus, insufficient lactation and mastitis and can regulate the menstrual cycle after childbirth.
For so many reasons Chinese medicine is an invaluable key to having a healthy pregnancy. With its focus on the whole self – body, mind and spirit – Chinese medicine helps expectant mothers feel more centered and in control and gives them the tools they need to avoid complications during pregnancy.