Pregnancy Care with Chinese Medicine
Pregnancy is both an exciting and anxiety-provoking experience for a couple. At Tao of Wellness, several of our practitioners specialize in helping patients achieve pregnancy. Once pregnant, a woman goes through dramatic physical and emotional changes. By understanding and preparing her body for the changes and acquiring the know-how in maximizing her own health and that of the fetus, a woman can experience her pregnancy in a meaningful and enjoyable way. This article will address the needs of the expectant mother. Future articles will discuss the importance of prenatal care and what we call “fetal enhancement and education.” As soon as a woman gets pregnant, her menstruation stops due to an increase in estrogen and progesterone levels in her body. In some women, implantation spotting might occur from the time of implantation (about 6 days after fertilization) until 29-35 days after the last menstrual period. Approximately 50% of women will have nausea and vomiting at 2-12 weeks’ gestation. These symptoms can occur any time of the day and may be precipitated by strong odors and other seemingly benign smells. Emotional tension and stress can also increase the level of nausea and vomiting. Breast tenderness ranging from tingling to pain can be common, as well as circulatory changes that may cause breast engorgement, varicose and spider veins. The nipples and areola get darker and become enlarged. Colostrum secretion from the breast occurs after 16 weeks’ gestation.
The perception of fetal movement occurs at 18-20 weeks in the first pregnancy and 14-16 weeks in subsequent pregnancies. Increased urinary bladder pressure and discomfort can occur due to enlargement of the uterus. Urinary tract infections are twice as likely compared to non-pregnant women. Persistent raised basal body temperature will last throughout the entire pregnancy. This is why summers and hot weather are dreaded by pregnant women. Darkening of the skin and stretch marks may appear. Increased thickness of mucus linings can create more sinus congestion and discomfort.
This doesn’t sound like fun at all! But it doesn’t have to be so miserable going through pregnancy because there are safe and effective treatments for the symptoms. In fact, some women have a relatively smooth pregnancy with minimal symptoms and discomfort, but then, there are some who can not wait to get the pregnancy over. There are various reasons that determine whether or one is going to have a easy or difficult pregnancy. It begins with genetics. By looking back at one’s mother’s pregnancy experience and history, we can get some idea of how it will be for the mother-to-be. Life style and diet factors can also play a role. Stressful and unhealthy living habits such as abuse of alcohol, smoking, caffeine and sugar may also affect the pregnancy experience. A difficult first pregnancy, especially with nausea and vomiting, will most likely result in a difficult subsequent pregnancy.
For centuries, Chinese medicine has been used to relieve many symptoms and complications during pregnancy.
Chinese Medicine has been used to manage symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to gestational diabetes, preventing pre-eclampsia, management of fibroid, common colds, low back pain, low fetal weight and others. Acupuncture and specific herbs are safe and can be quite effective, especially in older expectant mothers in whom complications are more common. For nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, acupuncture treatments, ginger tea and acupressure wristbands can offer relief. In some severe cases, acupuncture treatments may not be able to eliminate all of the symptoms, but frequently a reduction of the intensity of these symptoms can be expected.
Usage of herbs such as ginger, cardamom, astragalus and others have been shown to be helpful in many patients. There are also Chinese Medicine treatments for prevention of miscarriage and management of placenta previa. Some cases of cervical leakage can be stopped. The more common condition of back pain should be managed during early onset with acupuncture and tuina massage. Temporary relief of back pain can be achieved especially in the third trimester of gestation. In the case of breech in the last month of pregnancy, a simple and safe procedure involving acupuncture and moxibustion (heating acupoints with the herb, mugwort) of an acupoint on the feet has resulted in an over 90% effective rate in studies done in China, thus averting cesarean section.
Whether you are considering pregnancy or are currently pregnant, talk to your acupuncturist at Tao of Wellness about making the experience a healthful one for you and your baby. In summary, Chinese medicine can be an effective and safe tool for the successful management of various pregnancy symptoms with absence of side effects to the mother and the fetus.