is both an exciting and
Anxiety-provoking experience for a couple. 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'
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
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 an 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.
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 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.