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Natural Gynecology & Obstetrics

Natural Pregnancy Care


Chinese medicine offers something for pregnant patients that Western medicine does not. Namely, support for the pregnancy. Western medicine is ready and on-hand to treat diseases of pregnancy or sudden (unwelcome) labor or birth, but has essentially nothing to offer a woman suffering fatigue, poor appetite, low back pain, cramps or spotting, or threatened miscarriage.

Fertility has held a high level of importance to the Chinese for thousands of years. This is evidenced by their very high population, about five times that of the United States in a similar land area. The importance of gynecological health is also evidenced by the fact that all major medical texts from about 200 A.D. onwards had chapters on gynecology and obstetrics and texts entirely dedicate to the subject appeared as early as 400 A.D. (onwards).


Preventing Miscarriage (of an otherwise viable embryo / fetus)  

Especially during the first trimester, the body will readily abandon a pregnancy that it feels it does not have sufficient resources for. Our body’s are animals. In many ways, our body’s act differently than our modern minds would have them act. This conflict is a regular occurrence and deserves much more attention than it gets! Returning to the point, we can hold a pregnancy that would otherwise be lost by ‘lending’ the body the support it needs to complete the task. This is done almost entirely with herbal tonics. In addition to ‘tonics’ which are vaguely similar to ‘super foods’, we have herbs to ‘lift’, ‘astringe’ and specifically to ‘prevent miscarriage’ which generally involves ‘calming the uterus’ (equivalent to stopping uterine contractions).


Placenta Previa / Vasa Previa

Pre = before, via = path(way), that is, anything obstructing the pathway of the fetus. This is a condition of fatigue. An inability of a tired body to hold things in place. Because it is a relatively simple condition, it is usually easy to fix. Currently, Western medicine has no treatment for these conditions, other than prescribing bed rest. The treatment involves lending strength and generating more blood for the mother. When the mother has sufficient energy and blood the placenta and/or vessels will lift and return to their proper places, thus solving the problem.


Gestational Diabetes

In all cases of gestational diabetes, the cause is (at least partly) dietary. The origin is generally overwork and over-worry in added to an already deficient, or tired, body. A history of sweet and carbohydrate consumption is generally present, with insufficient animal protein and vegetable consumption. Once the body gets ‘into a rut’ with blood sugar mismanagement it almost always needs help to get out of this rut. In other words, dietary changes will not be enough, but are still necessary as part of the solution. With the proper herbs and acupuncture treatment, and the right dietary changes, the blood sugar and hormones can be balanced and controlled, averting any and all danger or concern for the baby (the sooner the better).


Uterine / Lower Abdominal Cramping (or Bleeding)

There are many reasons a pregnant woman may have cramping. First, a local lack of blood which can lead to spasms and convulsions. Second, stress and related stagnation of energy, which can directly cause uterine cramps. This is a mild version of the body causing a miscarriage at its convenience by drastically closing up the uterine artery, choking off local blood supply. Third, factors of pathological heat of cold can both contribute to cramping or bleeding. The uterus and the fetus are both hypersensitive to temperature changes. A rapid change of even one degree in core temperature can trigger a miscarriage (presumably because the body understands this as a serious threat). This is why women are strongly discouraged from using a sauna or hot tub during pregnancy.

Chinese herbal medicine has a wide variety of substances to “stop bleeding.” So far, Western medicine does not have this ability with medicines, only with physical treatments such as curettage (burning of tissue), or hysterectomy. There are herbs to stop bleeding when the bleeding is from fatigue or weakness; herbs for when the bleeding is from too much heat in the body or too much cold; and herbs to stop bleeding for blood that is moving chaotically (i.e. bleeding from other area’s as well).


Urinary Frequency and Incontinence

Urinary frequency and incontinence are logically effected by the pressure on the bladder as a fetus grows. However, this does not entirely explain the why or how of the situation. Every woman’s bladder is being crushed in pregnancy to varying degrees – not all suffer urinary frequency and/or incontinence. From Chinese medicine’s observation, it is generally caused by “Kidney deficiency,” which is a way of saying whole body, long-term fatigue. This condition will often be accompanied by general fatigue, poor appetite, sweet cravings (and consumption), weak limbs, and a weak, aching low back.

Heartburn, Hemorrhoids and Poor Digestion

As a baby grows in the belly, various organs are pressured into smaller spaces. This pressure and new size / shape fully affects the stomach, which can have a harder time functioning and by extension grow weaker. As the stomach grows weaker, the sphincters lose their ability to seal tightly and stomach acid is permitted to rise, thereby burning the throat and causing “heartburn.” The treatment involves correcting and strengthening digestive function, which can be done well with both herbs and acupuncture. 


Low Back Pain / Weakness & Ankle Swelling

Low back pain in pregnancy is most typically caused by deficiency. That is, not enough core energy or resources (Kidney organs) for both the mother and the little one. In a wide variety of ways, when pregnant, the mother suffers first in most cases. This deficiency, or weakness, is from the inside out, yet it is made worse by physical stagnation (such as sitting in a chair too much) and over-work (more than 15 hours / week). To begin with, we need to employ herbal tonics. These are similar, but not typically the same, as the so-called ‘super foods’ (such as blueberries, goji berries and sacha inchi). Some common foods such as goji berries (Gou Qi Zi 枸杞子), walnuts (He Tao Ren 核桃仁), and Chinese yam (Shan Yao 山药) are tonic herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica. However, the majority of tonics, including those that can effectively ‘knit sinews and bones,’ and ‘promote healing,’ are not foods, but plant materials only used as medicine. Normally, we treat low back pain through tonification and also invigoration of the local energy and blood. However, in pregnancy, we must avoid certain herbs, and stick with certain others, so that while the low back pain is being resolved, the pregnancy is also benefitted and protected. The proper herbs can make the bones, ligaments, and muscles stronger and more supple. This results in more comfort and stamina, less ongoing injury, and faster recovery.

Ankle swelling is another common sign that the Kidneys are getting tired. The Kidney system is the primary governor and supplier for a pregnancy, and for our life in general. Hence, if our Kidneys are not strong enough at the start of a pregnancy, the strength of the low back, and water metabolism in general, will gradually fail, unless proper supplementation is taken, along with necessary dietary and lifestyle changes. Ankle swelling, because of the direct connection the ankles (also knees, hips & low back) have to the Kidneys, can be a clear sign of interior strength or weakness, in a pregnancy or any time. The more the ankles are swelling, in volume and how quickly through the day, the greater the deficiency and the more urgent the need for strong tonification, in addition to work habits and dietary correction. This is for the sake of both mother and child. 


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