What is the role of TCM in pregnancy?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been practiced for over 2000 years and is still an important part of current Chinese healthcare.
TCM’s beliefs have been woven into the cultural DNA of Chinese people all around the world, impacting their lifestyles, disease prevention, and sickness management.
Acupressure massage and acupuncture, as well as the consumption of specific Chinese herbs, are thought to help prime a woman’s womb for conception.
What is TCM?
Despite their divergent health principles, Chinese herbology and acupuncture have become recognised for their health-restoring properties, and countries such as Singapore have created TCM alongside western medicine.
The fundamental goal of TCM is to achieve a physiological balance of Yin and Yang. The Yin-Yang ideology embraces the entire natural world, big and small. The Yin-Yang energies are channeled through Qi and Blood energy through meridians that organize man’s organ systems. TCM emphasizes a holistic approach to maintaining balance through the use of natural medicine.
“Chinese medicine pays close attention to the regulation of internal body temperature,” said Julie Low, a senior physician with TCM healthcare provider Oriental Remedies Group.
“A body that is too ‘cold’ will struggle to provide adequate energy for proper organ functioning, which will affect the body constitution and overall well-being.
Hence, in TCM, a healthy womb is one that is considered ‘warm’ enough, with good blood flow to supply the foetus with nutrient-rich blood and maintain a highly nurturing home for it,” she added.
Traditional Chinese medicine for pregnancy
Unlike Western Medicine, TCM does not recognize pregnancy as a stage of altered human physiology with its own set of vulnerabilities.
Poor pregnancy health is treated in the same way as non-pregnant women, by restoring the Yin-Yang balance with medicines and acupuncture that manipulate Qi movements.
The interaction between the growing fetus and the pregnant mother is underappreciated.
Chinese herb and Chinese herb capsule | Image from iStock
The expectant mother and fetus are managed as a unit. Few pregnancy-related problems, such as impending miscarriage and fetal mal-presentation, are included in TCM textbooks.
Pregnancy-related diseases are not recognized as distinct conditions; rather, they are treated based on symptoms such as abdominal pain, leg swelling, headaches, and so on.
TCM as a component of global health care
TCM diagnoses will be included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) beginning in 2022.
Traditional Chinese medicine is quickly becoming a component of global health care, which is good news for practitioners and patients.
TCM can be useful during pregnancy, when a woman may experience symptoms that require intervention or therapy. When used correctly, Chinese medicine may provide a safe choice for ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
It should be mentioned, however, that if you are pregnant, there may be additional difficulties. You will encounter side effects while your body goes through hormonal changes.
The placenta, for example, produces hormones that can lead to glucose buildup in the blood. Sugar levels will rise if your pancreas does not create enough insulin, and a pregnant woman may develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Fortunately, it goes away once a lady has finished her pregnancy or given birth.
Meanwhile, there are various things you can do to control GDM. Herbal medicine, when taken correctly, can help lower glucose levels. Other treatments to manage GDM symptoms include wearing stockings for healthy circulation, watching what you eat, and exercising.
Recommended TCM for Pregnancy
Acupuncture and herbal treatment are two components of TCM. Traditional medicine can benefit during the gestation stage in the same manner that it can help improve conception rates and eventually conception.
Pregnant women can use herbs like ginger, chamomile, or peppermint to alleviate early pregnancy symptoms like nausea and morning sickness.
1. Using TCM Herbs During Pregnancy
Ginseng tea and Dry Ginseng Roots | Image from iStock
Pregnancy is a change in human physiology in which the foetus, which is part alien to the mother, is permitted to develop with the uterus. Herbs must be ingested with caution because they affect both the foetal and mother’s living systems.
To cope with the pregnancy, many pregnant women utilise herbs or complementary therapies to enhance energy levels and strengthen the body.
Among the most common Chinese drugs used during pregnancy are:
- 人参 / Ginseng
- 黄连 / Huang Lian (Rhizome Coptidis)
- 安胎饮 / An Tai Yin (Danggui and Cuscuta Formula)
- 四物汤 / Si Wu Tang (4 Substance Decoction)
- 八珍汤 / Ba Zhen Tang (8 Treasure Tea Pills)
According to popular perception, Chinese medicines of natural origin are mild and innocuous, and should not have the toxic effects of western produced pharmaceuticals. This is far from the case, as ingested plants can have powerful and unforeseen consequences.
2. Acupuncture for Energy Consolidation
Another important component of TCM that can benefit pregnant women is acupuncture. It should be emphasised that standard precautions apply, such as avoiding infection and harmful pressure points.
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Traditional acupuncture treatment | Image from iStock
Expectant mothers should avoid touching pressure areas that may cause pain, touching important organs, or puncturing the foetus. Furthermore, there is a list of acupuncture points that must be avoided due to their oxytocic impact, which may induce labour or, worse, a miscarriage.
Acupuncture can be practiced using gentle needling to boost a woman’s energy without overstimulating or disrupting the pregnancy.
TCM can help a pregnant woman in a variety of ways. It can boost her energy, increase her mood, and improve her overall health, contributing to safe and good pregnancy.
TCM Products to Avoid While Pregnant
All herbs are invariably hazardous, and even “weak” herbs can cause severe harm in large dosages. The classic TCM pharmacopoeia forbids the use of particular herbs and therapeutic ingredients that are dangerous, can cause miscarriage, and impair pregnancy.
These are some examples:
- Herbs with a laxative effect
- Invigorating and harsh plants
- Heavy metals (e.g. arsenic, mercury, and lead)
- Animal products (e.g. scorpion, beetle, toad, leeches, and centipedes)
Herbs should not be used during the first trimester since the fetus’ organs are assembling to become a functional unit. Before consuming any needless chemical compound, whether it is a processed medication or a plant product, it must be checked for safety.
Herbs should only be utilized if there is a demonstrable necessity for them. They should be recommended by a skilled TCM practitioner who has assessed the pregnant woman’s current state and is capable of customising the herbs to match her needs.
To allow pregnant women to use herbal medicine for an extended period of time, there must be clinical and biochemical evidence that the herbal ingredients have the claimed favourable effects. Otherwise, the possible harm to the mother and fetus is unjustifiable.
Finally, in the right situations, well-tested herbs may be effective. It is not advisable to promote herb consumption during pregnancy without first consulting with a skilled TCM practitioner.
To ensure you and your baby’s safety, it’s best to consult your doctor about certain TCM practices in pregnancy before doing them and ask if they can recommend a TCM expert to help.
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore
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