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Health Education Articles

Pregnancy and Traditional Chinese Medicine 

By Kimberly Guorong Du

Today traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is widely practiced and readily available to everyone ó including pregnant women. When youíre pregnant, many of the medications youíre used to taking in your day-to-day life arenít always safe when youíve got a baby in your belly.

Chinese medicine, like acupuncture and moxibustion, are generally considered safe when youíve got a baby on board. Chinese medical techniques tend to treat you as a whole person, taking your nutritional, emotional, spiritual, and physical health and well being into consideration. TCM also emphasizes the bodyís ability to heal itself ó with a little help from herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure, cupping, and other natural therapies.

Hereís a look at some of the most commonly treated problems:

Nausea and vomiting: Acupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure and Chinese herbal medicine all can be used for pregnancy nausea and vomiting. Usually we try acupuncture first, and if itís not good enough, we will add moxibustion and teach patients a few acupressure points for them to press on at home. If a patient with hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive vomiting during pregnancy) tries a few treatments without improvement, she will be given some herbal medicine tailored carefully by the Chinese medical doctor.

Turning a breech baby around: usually we only use moxibustion treatment to turn a breech baby. The success rate is as high as 85%.

Low back pain: If you feel low back pain during pregnancy, usually you should be alarmed. It may be a sign of miscarriage like abdominal pain. Or if you have had the problem not really because of pregnancy, but because of a spinal problem, you all can use acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs to prevent miscarriage or treat the problem to relieve the pain.

Despite the fact that TCM practices are now widely used in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, there are a few caveats to keep in mind before hopping on the TCM bandwagon. In general, TCM therapies are safe, but not tested or FDA-approved like conventional therapies are. Therefore, their safety hasnít been clinically established. Which means that before taking any herbs and before submitting to the therapies, youíll need to make sure theyíve been specifically prescribed by the practitioner who is knowledgeable in TCM techniques (and knows youíre pregnant) and who has a great amount of experience working with pregnant women.


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