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.
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.
As always, emotions play the greatest role (not only in pregnancy). Any excessive or long-term emotion is also transferred to the foetus as the first stimulus. Excessive joy shoots down the heart qi, anger and ire raise heat in the liver, excessive thinking and gloom lead to stagnation of qi 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 foetus, leading either to birth defects and diseases or even abortion.
According to TCM, reduction of the sexual intercourse in a certain stage of pregnancy is necessary for stabilization of the foetus 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 foetus. In other words – renal yin is consumed for orgasm. If the kidney yin is in norm, the mother and the foetus 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.
Eating and choosing meals of every pregnant woman are closely related to the growth of the foetus, 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 mucus. Spicy and hot foods (spicy meals, onions, chives) produce an internal fire that disturbs the foetus. 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.
A pregnant woman should 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 qi energy and blood and to support not only her health but also the health of the foetus. 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.
The tradition of “Sitting the Month” or Zuo Yuezi in Chinese medicine goes back thousands of years to the Han Dynasty in China, where it was recognized that the month directly after childbirth is crucial to the future health of the mother and newborn. This program has become an ingrained tradition in Chinese culture and involves strict rules for the month following childbirth, some of which are still followed as closely as they were 2,000 years ago. It is now a full industry involving luxury hotels with doctors on call in house and a nurse in the room at all times. Families who can’t afford a luxury hotel still do a version of Zuo Yuezi where the new mother stays with a family member so she can have help recovering and focus on her baby.
The concepts to follow during this time are rooted in Chinese medical theory, but some of the strict rules make it difficult for Western women to follow and are a little outdated.
Zuo yue zi is somewhat controversial because the advice to take a month’s rest can be interpreted widely. For example, the ideas that one shouldn’t wash hair, take showers, brush teeth, use an air conditioner or leave the house all stem from the belief that childbirth brings significant amounts of fluid and blood loss. According to traditional Chinese medicine, blood carries qi, your “life force,” which fuels all the functions of the body. When you lose blood, you lose qi, and this causes your body to go into a state of yin (cold). When yin (cold) and yang (hot) are out of balance, your body will suffer physical disorders.
According to Lia Andrews, author of “The Postpartum Recovery Program”, too many new mothers rush back to their daily routines after birth. They expect that their weight, energy levels, mood and libido will miraculously bounce back without any assistance; they also believe it is normal for their bodies to feel wrecked from childbearing. Some “modern mothers never fully recover from having children. Instead, they suffer from depression, lack of libido, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, inability to conceive more children, urinary incontinence and other complications,” she writes in her book.
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