How TCM views pregnancy
How to care for yourself during pregnancy?
According to TCM, attention is paid not only to the woman but also to the unborn baby during pregnancy. You may say it is nothing new and no difference from the western medicine. The traditional Chinese medicine, however, includes everyday regime, appropriate diet, supporting exercises and also attention to emotional condition of every expectant mother.
In particular, every pregnant woman should try to adhere to everyday regime, which means certain regularity, rules and order. It applies to activities, work, diet, rest and sleep. Recommendations may seem like those of The Clever Mountain Lass: She should be active but not too much to avoid complete exhaustion (e.g. carrying heavy shopping bags or taking demanding alpine tours). She should have sufficiency of sleep but not too much (long lying may cause stagnation of chi energy in the uterus). She should neither starve nor overeat etc.
Any illness of the mother naturally affects the unborn baby, too. At the same time, a healthy mother has considerably better prerequisites to give birth to a healthy child.
Having emotions in one’s hands
As always, emotions play the greatest role (not only in pregnancy). Any excessive or long-term emotion is also transferred to the fetus as the first stimulus. Excessive joy shoots down the heart chi, anger and ire raise heat in the liver, excessive thinking and gloom lead to stagnation of chi in the spleen, sadness and worries weaken the lungs, fear and fearfulness exhaust the kidney essence. If the internal energy of a pregnant woman (as a result of these emotions) is disturbed, this condition may prevent adequate development of the internal organs of the fetus, leading either to birth defects and diseases or even abortion.
Adjusting sex in pregnancy
According to TCM, reduction of the sexual intercourse in a certain stage of pregnancy is necessary for stabilization of the fetus and prevention of abortion. It is a fact that in the first 3 months of pregnancy and in the last 3 months of pregnancy it is suitable to reduce the intimate contact. The uterus is linked to the kidney pathway which in turn nourishes and maintains the fetus in the uterus. In sexual intercourse, a pregnant woman experiences escape of the kidney essence of yin which in turn does not sufficiently nourish the fetus. In other words – renal yin is consumed for orgasm. If the kidney yin is in norm, the mother and the fetus enjoy full health.
Otherwise, it may lead to either (in the first months) abortion or (in the last months) to pregnancy complications such as premature discharge of amniotic fluid, premature separation of the uterine bed (placenta), and premature birth. Likewise, various foreign bacteria brought in during sexual intercourse may cause early infections and inflammations with fever, both in newborns and mothers.
Good food gives strength
Eating and choosing meals of every pregnant woman are closely related to the growth of the fetus, and that’s why the mother should eat not only what tastes her but especially what benefits her baby, too.
According to TCM, foods such as fish, eggs, beans, and celery are particularly suitable foods during pregnancy and boiled water with lemon is recommended for drinking. A varied, simple and balanced diet is the basis, as well as regularity, which prevents starvation or overeating.
On the other hand unsuitable foods include those with the so called cold energy such as green salads, grapefruit, pineapples and crabs as they damage (cool down) the spleen and stomach. After the 7th month, salty foods are not recommended (due to swelling). Oily and fatty foods are also difficult to digest and damage the spleen that in turn produces the TAN mucus. Spicy and hot foods (spicy meals, onions, chives) produce an internal fire that disturbs the fetus. For example, a child’s eczema that occurs in the first 3 months after birth, especially on the head (in the hair) and on the face, is due to the mother’s excessive consumption of hot and spicy foods that lead to the formation of the hot toxin RE DU …
Moderate exercise within the law
A pregnant woman should maintain attraction as well as balance between work and rest, especially in the first and last 3 months of pregnancy. A healthy woman can partly work every day but she will have to reduce the load as the date of birth approaches. She should also exercise moderately and reasonably easily to support the circulation of chi energy and blood and to support not only her health but also the health of the fetus. On the contrary, she should avoid laborious or long-term work as well as hard physical exercises (jumps, lifting) that could cause abortion or premature delivery.
Smoking and alcohol harm health, especially of the pregnant!
According to TCM, spleen and stomach are the sources of Qi chi energy and XUE blood. The growth and development of every fetus depends on the energy and blood of the mother. If the pregnant woman is “poisoned by poisons” such as nicotine or alcohol, the spleen and stomach are then weakened and cannot produce enough energy and blood and supply the fetus, too. In addition, alcohol brings moisture and SHI/RE heat into the body which are transferred on the fetus which is then born with the so called RE DU intrauterine toxins that cause the occurrence of various diseases in future such as allergies, alcohol syndrome or muscle atrophy. Also, neonatal jaundice (often accompanied by constipation) is often caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is totally inappropriate because every fetus should absorb pure and calm energy from the mother. Alcohol, however, is not only extremely hot but also disturbs the body’s energy and puts it in confusion and chaos… old Chinese books say.
Mother’s smoking is as unhealthy as alcoholism for a baby. Every fetus is very sensitive to even the smallest nicotine content in the mother’s blood. Smoking mothers must count on giving birth to premature babies and, in addition, less healthy children than non-smoking mothers. Nicotine brings a pungent harsh heat into the body that easily turns into fire. This fire comes through the uterus into the fetus and causes so-called hot diseases such as eczema, asthma or mental disorders such as ADHD syndrome (hyperactive behaviour), mild brain dysfunction, dyslexia, autism, etc.
Herbs differ in their effects!
Every herb and therefore also food may be toxic as a result and it always depends on 2 factors: 1. on a dose size (quantity) and 2. on appropriateness of a particular herbal mixture for the terrain concerned (quality) – in short, a key must fit onto a lock.
In pregnancy, therefore, the following 3 basic areas of herbs (according to TCM) should be used with great care and in small doses only and for the necessary period of time:
- Herbs that induce sweating (e.g. 004).
- Herbs that stimulate blood circulation and stimulate intestinal peristalsis (e.g. 038, 041, 042, 052, 053, 054, 205, 091).
- Herbs that support urination (e.g. 016, 102, 111, 201, 202, 204).
Growing of mountain Tchai
Just as a pure trickle springs out, trying to find its path and place in the sun, gradually growing into a clear stream, burbling and bubbling, giving rise to the splashing zany stream that, merging into a confluence with others into one large tranquil river to later flow into a wide see not knowing future happenings … a little swimmer enters the world, coming after ten months of pregnancy, i.e. 280 days. The task of parents and especially of the mother is to make the way as easy as possible and to manufacture a sturdy and stable boat (not a cockleshell!) so that storms and waves will not overthrow it and will not pour the bathtub – the boat – with a baby, too.
From the first signs of pregnancy, the Chinese medicine recommends using of the blend Growing of mountain Tchai (056) which not only nourishes the blood of the mother and of the fetus, but also strengthens the uterus and harmonizes the condition between the liver and spleen, which is so important for the successful physical and psychological development of the fetus. It is used throughout pregnancy and until delivery at the usual dose of 3 x 4 tablets a day. It has no contraindications except acute illness with fever.
The most common pregnancy problem
Pregnancy nausea with vomiting begins at around the 6th week and lasts up to the 13the week, sometimes longer. According to TCM, the most frequent cause are the following 3 situations:
- Insufficiency of the spleen and stomach PI QI XU is manifested by vomiting of clear saliva (immediate after meal), lack of appetite, loss of taste in the mouth, poor digestion, fatigue, insomnia.
Therapy: Cleaning of corn storehouse (073)+ Tiger spring (152)
- The imbalance between the liver and stomach GAN QI FAN WEI is manifested by vomiting of acidic bitter fluids, chest tension, yawning, mental discomfort, bitterness in the mouth, dizziness.
Therapy: Falling heart stone (081)+ Cultivation of burned land (015)
- The stagnation of damp mucus in the central fireplace of TAN SHI is manifested by nausea and vomiting of watery mucus with a missing feeling of thirst, with a feeling of fullness on the chest, lack of appetite, sticky and greasy feeling in the mouth.
Therapy: Sabre of little samurai (101)+ Banquet of five tastes (105)
The most common postpartum trouble
Lack of or loss of breast milk may have 2 main causes according to TCM:
- The insufficiency of XUE XU blood is manifested by either no or weak secretion of clear, sparse milk, painless or non-swollen nipples, lack of appetite, paleness, fatigue.
Therapy: Bracelet of eight pearls (191) + Peach of grove harmony (192)
Recommended foods: beef, chicken, carp, azuki beans, tofu, dates, squid, walnuts, lettuce.
- Stagnating liver chi GAN QI ZHI is manifested by no or very poor milk secretion, nipple swelling and pain, or stiff, concentrated and sticky milk, lack of appetite, mental discomfort, internal hotness.
Therapy: Calming of rough water (062) + Falling heart stone (081)