The Chinese have always paid special attention to medicine for women during pregnancy. It is important to keep the Qi or energy flowing and blood in harmony for both the foetus and the mother to ensure a smooth pregnancy. Herbs are usually used as a nourishment or a tonic, bearing in mind that some formula should not be used during pregnancy and formulas should only be used where there is more benefit than just leaving nature alone.
If there are underlying constitutional weaknesses in the mother Chinese herbal formulas can prove to be invaluable, however usually women who have previously found formulas to be beneficial are more willing to take them throughout their pregnancy. Western women are more reluctant to start taking Chinese herbs unless they have severe morning sickness, however I remind my clients there are billions of women in China who have used them successfully for hundreds of years.
In the United Kingdom there is an organisation called the RCHM Register for Chinese Herbal Medicine and as with acupuncture as I have previously stated, I always recommend clients use practitioners who are registered with a professional body as this guarantees a standard of compliance which is absolutely vital and of course very important when taking herbs for treatment during pregnancy for conditions such as for morning sickness or threatened miscarriage.
It is important to remember that Chinese herbal medicine was the only form of medicine in China for over 3000 years and of course the area of the Orient expands from Vietnam, Japan and Korea as well as mainland China. The long history does not mean TCM Traditional Chinese Medicine is backward in comparison to ‘modern medicine’ however there have been less clinical trials. Chinese medicine is still used as the primary form of healthcare in much of South East Asia and is provided by the state throughout China.
I do not see this as an alternative but rather a complimentary form of medicine. Herbal remedies and acupuncture and now used regularly to treat a wide range of illnesses pain and medical conditions. The first consultation determines an individual tailor-made prescription and then it is usual for a professional practitioner to review the patient every week or two in the first trimester or for a new patient and then every 2 to 4 weeks thereafter.
Ancient Chinese Art of 'sitting the month'
The first 40 days following the birth of the baby in some countries, customs or religions is known as a confinement period with strict rest for the mother to recuperate and bond with her baby, which is wonderful. Sadly in so-called modern cultures this has now all but disappeared. In the postpartum phase it is important to nourish new mothers with fresh home-made food, soups and bone broth along with support from the female members of the family. With herbal medicine a woman’s qi and blood would be nourished with the appropriate Chinese formula if she is breastfeeding.
What can research tell us? the register for Chinese herbal medicine has a collaboration with the Centre for evidence-based Chinese medicine in Beijing and also the Southampton Complimentary Medicine Trust where there are many published research papers which can be studied to back up their evidence.
So in conclusion my answer would be yes Chinese medicine is effective during pregnancy so long as the process and prescriptions are provided by a qualified professional who is registered. Please do contact me today for my fertility coaching programmes, pregnancy and post part care.