Traditional Chinese Medicine and our Childbearing Journey: Preconception 3
For women and men alike
Licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Emma Lee will be following this journey through preconception to postpartum and everything in between. The first 3 months will focus on preconception time, then 2 months for each of the three trimesters, followed by 3 months for postpartum. We will focus on common problems and how Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Western Herbal Medicine may help.
Sometimes the things we think should be easy in life turn out to be seemingly impossible. Getting pregnant can fall into that category for a some women. If you haven’t been trying for more than a year, don’t worry! Even if you have been trying for 1-3 years and your still not pregnant, it doesn’t mean you won’t be soon. It means that life is going differently than you had planned, which is usually what life does. In the words of John Lennon, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”
It can be incredibly difficult, heartbreaking, and emotionally draining when pregnancy is desired but isn’t achieved. It can also be hard on your relationship. Traditional Chinese medicine has a lot to offer here, being a whole body medicine, not separating our emotional bodies from our physical ones. Sometimes a women’s body needs a boost of some sort to conceive, and acupuncture and herbs can be that boost. Depending on your constitution and/pattern of imbalance, your practitioner will choose a special course of treatment designed just for you.
Some simple dietary changes also may be in order. Did you know that studies have found that women who eat whole fat dairy products regularly are more fertile than women that eat low fat or no dairy? Also that our balance of healthy fats plays directly into the production of our sex hormones and thus our fertility. Sources of healthy fats include coconut oil, butter, avocado, olive oil, wild salmon, and grass fed beef.
There are many Chinese herbs that can help balance our hormones and increase fertility. Generally, these are gently tonics that may be taken over a period of 3 months or so.
Receiving acupuncture can help balance hormones and increase fertility. I usually recommend that women try a course of acupuncture and/or herbs for at least 3 cycles before thinking of more complex routes such as taking Clomid, trying IUI or IVF. Not because these other routes are bad, only because they are a lot more complicated, stressful, and often very expensive.
Don’t forgot guys that your sperm quality matters! If you two are having trouble conceiving, get your sperm tested to make sure it’s good. The test is simple and doesn’t cost much. The herb Maca, though not in the Chinese pharmacopeia, has been shown to increase sperm quality and motility. Getting acupuncture or some kind of Qi moving bodywork can also be a great help to increase libido, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce anxiety.
If IUI (intrauterine insemination) is the option for you, receiving acupuncture right before and after the procedure can increase your chances of getting pregnant. The same goes for IVF (in vitro fertilization). Those doing IVF are given hormones to control their cycle and here I generally do not use herbs to increase fertility because to me it’s too complicated for the body to integrate, but acupuncture can play the same role here as in IUI’s.
If you’re looking for a great book to give you hope and support and teach you more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine works with fertility, read “The Infertility Cure”, by Randine Lewis. You can also feel free to call or email me with any questions.
Next month we will launch into the 1st trimester and how awful you will feel! Just kidding, sort of.
If you are on a childbearing journey and are interested in personalized support, book online with Emma!