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Pre-Partum Series

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Why is Pre-Partum Care important?

During your pregnancy, new moms will expect changes happening to your body, we will be sharing with you  how you can better care for yourself from a TCM perspective! In TCM perspective, we view pregnancy care in 2 key aspects, 安胎 and 养胎. Your main task for the next 10 months is to provide the best environment for your baby to grow.

During pregnancy, you’ll be going through 3 different trimesters, each with its own challenges and focus. During the early stage of pregnancy, you might experience numerous signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms you will experience are nausea, vomiting, tiredness and insomnia. Understanding the journey through your pregnancy is important so that you can understand what to expect and embrace the changes occurring to and within your body.

What is 安胎?

In TCM terms, 安胎 is also about the stage where mothers tries to stabilise the fetus so as to prevent miscarriages. As most early stage miscarriages are related to embryos not able to settle during the settling window.

As most of the common occurrence of early stage miscarriage is due to kidney deficiency or spleen and kidney deficiency, hence it’s crucial to ensure your kidney is in good health to have a smooth 安胎.

What is 养胎?

养胎 is about your baby growing up healthily and steadily with a well balanced diet for your baby’s nutritions absorption. Usually during this stage, it’s important to ensure the uterus environment is optimal for the growth of your baby. It’s important that mothers have good Qi and blood circulation, and do not have blood stasis that might obstruct the nutrients that get delivered to the uterus.

3 Trimesters for your Pregnancy Care

A pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, starting from the first day of your last normal period, The weeks are then grouped into 3 different trimesters. Each trimester has its own challenges and mothers will experience different physical and emotional changes in different trimesters.

First Trimester (Week 1 - 12)

In TCM terms, 安胎 is also about the stage where mothers tries to stabilise the fetus so as to prevent miscarriages. As most early stage miscarriages are related to embryos not able to settle during the settling window.

As most of the common occurrence of early stage miscarriage is due to kidney deficiency or spleen and kidney deficiency, hence it’s crucial to ensure your kidney is in good health to have a smooth 安胎.

Common Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms you might experience during your first trimester.

Yin Deficiency

In TCM perspective, during the process of child bearing, more vital energy is required for fetus development and growth. Hence, you may experience a drop in energy level  or increase in discomfort in certain areas.

Morning Sickness

One of the most commonly known symptoms mothers might experience is morning sickness, and it can occur at any time of day. This is usually caused by the increased hormone levels or reduced blood sugar during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Severe Morning Sickness Remedy 

– Sugar Cane with Fresh Ginger Juice

If you are experiencing severe morning sickness, you can make yourself a cup of sugar cane with fresh ginger juice to soothe the symptpn by using the recipe below:

* Prepare 1 glass of sugarcane juice and 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger juice. Warm it up and consume it sip by sip to ease your morning sickness.

– Acupuncture Treatment

Other than the sugar cane with fresh ginger juice, you can also consult your TCM Physician for acupuncture treatments to ease your morning sickness symptoms. Some of the acupoints that can help ease the symptoms are 内关、内庭、耳穴.

 

Change of Appetite

As more Qi and energy is diverted to support your baby’s development you might also experience a change in appetite. You might not be able to consume a full meal as your stomach might feel bloated which causes discomfort.

It is recommended to adjust to more frequent meals and a smaller portion each meal. This will help ease the stress on your stomach and spleen, which will help in food digestion and nutrients absorption.

Constipation

In TCM perspective, inner heatiness or dampness could cause you to experience constipation due to the reduction of bowel movement. You might also experience constant thirst because of your body’s inner heatiness.

Do include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink lots of fluids, especially water and prune or other fruit juices. Regular physical activity also helps.

Extreme Fatigues

Another common symptom is the feeling of fatigue, and this might cause you to experience emotional fluctuation. 

It is important for pregnant mothers to take ample rest to allow your body to adjust to the hormones changes and baby’s development.

Physical Care

What should mommy do during their first trimester? And you might have this question as well. So we have prepared some aspects we deemed important for mommy to take note of.

Sleep well and rest more

Women tend to crave a significant amount of sleep while the placenta grows. Don’t be surprised if you feel sleepy all the time, need to go to bed earlier and take naps. At this stage, the best thing you can do is to get the rest your body needs.

Some tips to getting better rest is to avoid electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. If that’s not possible, turn down the screen’s brightness and avoid bright light, develop a relaxing bedtime routine and sleep on your side. You may need a maternity pillow to support your back and knees.

You can resume social activities once your body is adjusted with the new changes and you no longer experience fatigues.

Avoid emotional fluctuation

Due to your Yin energy depleting for your baby’s development, you tend to be more sensitive towards things that are happening around you. This is one of the reasons why some mothers experience mood swings, or are easily frustrated.

The best way to overcome this is to rest more to allow your body to recuperate and adjust from the hormone changes and Yin energy depletion. However, if you are experiencing emotional frustration, practice flexibility and patience, and liberate yourself from unreasonable expectations. It will also help if you talk openly to your friends, partner, and other family members about your moods and feelings. It will help them to be more understanding.

Avoid catching cold and falling sick

Feeling under the weather is never fun—especially not when you’re expecting. It is important for mothers to pay extra attention during your first trimester, as your body is undergoing radical changes. 

Just remember your focus is to stabilise your womb and for your baby’s development. And getting sick at this point will not only affect the stabilisation process, and it makes you feel terrible as your body gets even weaker.

You can try to put on additional clothes in an air-conditioning environment and rest when you start to feel unwell.

Consult your TCM Physician

If you have any concern or experience any severe symptoms, you can consult your TCM Physician to personalise a treatment plan to help you reduce your symptoms or improve your condition.

TCM Physician can also help you to improve your body constitution, as well as to support you with 安胎 and养胎 during your pregnancy journey.

Dietary Care

How about things that I cannot eat? There are many concerns on the food that mothers cannot eat or should avoid. However, we would like to recommend mothers to eat in moderation and have a balanced diet to help in your baby’s development.

Avoid Oily and Simulating Food

As your body’s depletes in energy, it’s recommended to avoid foods that are harder to digest or will cause additional stress on your stomach and spleen. So it’s best to avoid any deep-fried food, chilli, garlic or chilled food.

Reduce Sweet Food

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth.For first time mothers, this occurs when your body can’t produce enough insulin to regulate the level of glucose in the blood.

It is highly recommended that new mothers reduce the intake of sweet food, especially those ‘free sugar’ in food that you conveniently consume such as canned drinks, chocolate and juice drinks.

Consume meals regularly in smaller portion

As more of your Qi and energy is diverted to support your baby’s development, your stomach and spleen will be working at a reduced rate. Therefore, it’s recommended for you to consume smaller meals and regularly to reduce the stress of digesting a larger portion of food.

Food to ease morning sickness

Other than acupuncture and sugar cane with fresh ginger juice, there are other fruits and food that can help you with your morning sickness.

Pomelo Fruit and Lotus Seed Congee.

Second Trimester (Week 13 - 28)

During your Second Trimester, you will gradually see the changes in both size and weight, and you might continue to feel exhausted due to further Yin energy exhaustion. So it’s recommended for mothers to take a slower pace and adopt a work-life balance to maintain a relaxed and healthy lifestyle.

Common Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms you might experience during your second trimester.

Yin Energy Depletion

As your baby develops and starts to stabilise, a mother’s Yin energy will be depleted further to aid and support your baby’s growth. You will continue to feel tired but you are starting to be able to handle your daily routine without feeling the emotional swings.

However, at this stage, if your body still feels exhausted, this indicates your body has not adapted and balanced itself. Continue to ensure you rest well or seek your TCM Physician to find out the cause to help you improve your condition.

Growing Belly and Breasts

As your baby develops, your uterus and belly will start to expand to provide more room for your baby to grow! Other than that, you will start to feel your breast gradually increase in size to prepare you for your breastfeeding journey after birth.

While shopping for your maternity bra, look for at least three to four hooks in the closure to ensure comfort throughout your pregnancy, and make sure it fits on the tightest hook when you buy it so you can loosen it as your body grows,

Increase in Weight

Additional blood and body fluids are produced to meet your baby’s development needs. Other than your baby’s growth, the additional blood and body fluid will cause an increase in weight and you will start experiencing the additional stress on your leg muscles from carrying the additional weight.

Find any opportunities to sit down and give your legs some additional resting time when you need to move around.

Leg Cramps

Along with swelling and varicose veins, leg cramps are a normal but sometimes uncomfortable part of pregnancy. It could be due to the additional weight, or long duration of walking around. Another common cause is the changes in blood circulation. 

You can do some light exercise to increase the muscle strength of your legs or go for a massage to relieve the tense muscle. It usually helps if you stretch the muscle by pulling your toes hard up towards your ankle.

Water Retention

Edema (water retention) is a condition you are likely to experience when you are pregnant. Edema commonly targets the ankles, legs, and hands and is more common in the evenings, and from the fifth month of pregnancy all the way into the third trimester. This is normal, as your body is holding around 50 per cent extra blood and body fluids to meet your baby’s needs.s your baby grows, the uterus presses on the inferior vena cava (vessels that receive blood from your lower limbs). This slows circulation, causing the blood to pool in your legs.

Rest with your legs raised. Lying on your left will reduce pressure on your inferior vena cava (which brings blood back up your legs), helping to reduce swelling. Or, book for yourself a Pre-Partum massage to help in reducing your water retention and helps you recharge your power and energy!

Physical Care

Slow down your pace

While your condition starts to improve and you are really better and able to cope with your daily routine, it’s also important to slow down the pace in life and avoid getting too emotional or stressful during this period.

Your body will start to gain additional weight from the growth of your baby and it’s also important for you to reduce the pace to adapt to this change.

Work-life balance

As mentioned above, slowing down your pace in life also means your work life, which you need to allow yourself to have ample rest to recuperate and regain energy.

You will start feeling better and you can help in providing a conducive growth environment for your baby. Do note that your baby is exposed to everything you experience. This includes the sounds in the environment you are in, the air you breathe, the food you eat and the emotions you feel. So by keeping yourself happy and calm allows your baby to develop and grow in a happy and calm environment.

Regular Checkups

It’s also important for mommies to regularly go for checkups to understand the development of your child and also your health condition. As recommended during the first trimester, your blood sugar level should be closely monitored to avoid gestational diabetes.

Regular and light exercise

You can also consider regularly doing some light exercises such as yoga to improve your qi and blood circulation. This can also help you to improve your ligament and muscle strength to cope with the additional weight and ease your backaches.

Enjoy Meridian Massage

Other than exercising, you can also start to plan for your Pre-Partum massage after the 20th week of pregnancy. You can enjoy the relaxing and rejuvenating session, while easing your backaches, water retention and swelling during your 2nd trimester.

Dietary Care

Balanced Nutritional Diet

We still strongly recommend mothers to adopt a well balanced nutritional diet, while you still enjoy your favourite dishes in moderation. A well balanced diet can provide balanced nutrients for your baby’s healthy development.

Nourishing Yin Energy

In TCM perspective, mommies will continue to experience further depletion of Yin energy and it’s recommended to consume food that boosts your Yin energy. There are foods that can boost your Yin energy such as spinach, white fungus and sesame. So you can consider including those ingredients in your next meal!

Other than enjoying some white fungus and sesame, you can cook up a TCM nourishing herbal soup regularly such as Pre-Partum Collagen Soup to support your pregnancy health.

Third Trimester (Week 29 - 40)

Common Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms you might experience during your second trimester.

Severe Water Retention

As your baby continues to grow, the need for more blood and body fluid increases. This will cause you to further deplete your Yin energy, causing you to feel more tired. 

Due to the increased Qi deficiency, you will start to develop spleen and kidney deficiency causing you to experience more severe water retention and decrease in nutrients absorption.

Backaches

You will start to experience more severe backaches as your baby starts to grow bigger while getting ready for labour. Your posture may change due to carrying extra weight around. You may find yourself leaning more to one side or another, which can lead to lower back or hip pain. Other than that, pregnancy hormones will relax the connective tissue that holds your bones in place, especially in the pelvic area. This will then result in discomfort during this period.

You can look for an ergonomic chair that has a good back support, a shoe that provides good arch support and get a Pre-Partum Massage that helps in water retention and relieving of backaches.

Frequent urination

As your baby shifts deeper into your pelvis, your bladder is under more pressure, causing you to leak urine. You might also experience this when you have a hard laugh, cough or sneeze. If you are leaking amniotic fluid, you should consult your gynaecology for medical advice.

Physical Care

Reduce over-working

Most women can continue working during pregnancy. Working moms approaching their Estimated Delivery Date (EDD) tend to overwork themselves to ensure they can complete all tasks before they go for their labour and maternity leave.

However, this isn’t ideal, as you will be forced to complete additional tasks within a short period of time. This will not only cause you to work till late, it will also put on additional stress on you as you work against time.

Reduce back strains and water retention

As your stomach grows bigger, it’s impossible to lay on your back when you sleep, and you can consider sleeping on your sides to avoid discomfort. This can allow more blood flow to your uterus when you rest.

Other than that, you can get some massage to improve your blood flow and also reduce backache and water retention.

Have adequate rest

This goes without saying, it’s always recommended for mothers to have adequate rest as more physical stress and mental stress is being put onto mothers during her pregnancy.

Mothers still believe they can pull through their tiredness and continue with their daily routine. So you will really need to be able to get sufficient rest to ensure you provide a conducive environment for your baby to grow up healthily.

Dietary Care

Avoid overeating

Binge eating on the pretext that they should eat for two during pregnancy can lead to serious concerns later on.As your baby grows bigger in your womb, you might have the thought that you are not consuming enough to help your baby grow up healthily. This is inaccurate as your baby only needs an additional 300 calories a day, which is equivalent to 2 glasses of low-fat milk.

Nutrients for smoother delivery

From a TCM perspective, there are TCM herbs you can take to help in a smoother delivery such as Pre-Partum Nourishing Soup.

Other TCM herbs we recommend are 茯苓, 白朮

  • 茯苓 Fu Ling

Benefit: Improves spleen and stomach function. Soothes Nerves. Boost immunity and protect your liver. Nourish skin and fade pigmentation from age and pregnancy

  • 白朮  Bai Shu

Benefit: Help improve digestive system and water metabolism. Restore energy balance.

During your third trimester, you will experience energy deficiency which will worsen your water retention condition. In TCM perspective, we will recommend you to take TCM herbs to boost your kidney function to help ease the water retention along with Pre-Partum massage.

Some TCM herbs you can consider taking are 杜仲,巴戟天、黄芪 can ease muscles and joints soreness. However, we strongly recommend you to consult your TCM Physician on the proportion to consume that is best for your body constitution. 

  • 杜仲 Du Zhong

Benefits: Lower blood pressure, improves sleep quality and promotes weight loss.

  • 巴戟天 Ba Qi Tian

Benefits: Boost Kidney function, Strengthening muscles and ligament, and expel ‘wind’ and inner dampness.

  • 黄芪 Huang Qi

Benefits: Boost immune system, improves Qi and energy, strengthen lungs and spleen and help with water retention.

Different moms have different body constitution, and every pregnancy is different. You will require different physical and dietary care, and what we have provided is the most commonly faced issue and if you wish to understand your body better, consult your TCM Physicians for advice to help you manage your pregnancy journey with ease and comfort.

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