Posted on Mar 12, 2013 by Bethany
CHI examines what exactly is good for you or bad for you when using Traditional Chinese Medicine during pregnancy
Pregnancy: it’s an exciting and yet challenging time for a woman, as her body goes through months of development and change to accommodate an ever-growing baby. Women can choose many different ways to approach the health care aspects of pregnancy, according to what they feel is best for themselves and their child. While some women attend antenatal classes and use modern medicine to cure symptoms such as sickness, others choose a more natural route to help them overcome the difficulties of pregnancy.
A typical principal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that food shares the same source as medicine, so it can be used for healing in some circumstances. Food is divided into certain categories according to its natural properties or energy properties. These include placid, warm, heaty, cold and cooling. According to TCM, your body will be in good health providing you incorporate a good balanced diet depending on the environment and seasons. This means that foods consumed in winter and autumn should consist of warm and heaty properties. Foods of a cold or cooling nature should be consumed in spring and summer.
Experts in Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that pregnant women can be slightly anemic as a lot of the blood flow in the body is being diverted to the growing child. Not only that, but the woman's body is changing as it prepares to provide nutrients after the child is born. This means that it's good for the soon-to-be mother to eat nutrient-rich foods, especially those with iron, protein and natural vitamins.
According to TCM practitioners, stress can cause the blood flow to change and pull away to the arms and legs. Acupuncture can help to change the blood flow to focus more on the reproductive organs, which can provide benefits during pregnancy or aid women trying to get pregnant. Acupuncture can also help get hormones into balance, which can be difficult, especially for women who may be older.
Studies also show that acupuncture can relieve morning sickness and stress. Pregnancy can be exhausting, especially if there is a lot of morning sickness, and acupuncture can help. It's also known to help with lower back pain, which can be a savior to women who are in the later stages of pregnancy. Some studies suggest that this practice of TCM can shorten the length of labor, so if a long birthing process if of particular concern, acupuncture is a safe and natural way to help.
It's also good to pay attention to herbs during pregnancy as these contain many positive properties according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It's important to keep the energy flow and blood balanced, so consuming the right type of herbs according to the time of the year is imperative for a healthy pregnancy. Herbs with warming properties are saffron, cinnamon bark and hawthorn berries, so these would be ideal for the colder months. Herbs containing cooling properties are mint, rhubarb and honeysuckle, so those would be best for the warmer months. While there are many well known herb formulations for pregnancy, not all are suited to each woman, and many TCM herbal prescriptions are tailor made depending on what the woman's body is lacking.
Some herbs are forbidden during pregnancy as they can disrupt the qi (energy flow). It's highly recommended to avoid these as they are toxic and cause a huge disturbance in the bodies internal balance. Some of these forbidden herbs include Ba Dou, E Zhu and Shui Zhi. There are also some herbs that can be used during pregnancy, but it is important to exercise great caution as to not disturb good qi and the growing fetus. While not usually toxic, some herbs are powerful and best prescribed by a well-experience TCM physician; these include Fu Zi, Da Huang, Chuan Xiong and Mu Dan Pi.
Many natural therapies for use during pregnancy are both safe and effective. Acupuncture is especially good for relaxation and getting rid of stress, it's also great for relieving back pain, which is ideal for women in the later stages of pregnancy and carrying a lot of weight. In regards to herbs and foods, it's best to be cautious about which foods are consumed and when, as environment and season is very important. Should there be complications when using traditional methods during pregnancy, it is best to consult a well-experienced TCM physician to get advice and a good prescription that won't harm mother or baby.