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Traditional Chinese Medicine’s view on Female Reproduction and Pregnancy

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s view on Female Reproduction and Pregnancy

Traditional Chinese Medicine draws its philosophy and treatments from the connection between humanity and nature as Chinese Medicine views the human body as an ecosystem. In the same way ecosystems in nature consist of rivers, lands, mountains, clouds and so on, the ecosystem of the human body consists of organs, fluids, nutrients, blood and oxygen. Just as there are complex relationships in nature, clouds delivering water to the mountains in the form of rain, rain flowing down the mountains and washing soil toward the plains, land being refreshed and replenished by this soil while rivers fill with water from the rain, there are equally important and complex yet traceable relationships between the different organs and systems within the human body. Just as the health of the external ecosystem depends on maintaining equilibrium, the right amount of rain in the right season, the right amount of soil washed down the mountain, and so on, the health of the human body depends on maintaining balance within its different systems.

Traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t treat a Kidney or a Lung or an Ovary; instead, it addresses the energetic health underlying the organs, then it gently supports the body to function in the most efficient manner through Acupuncture treatments, Chinese Herbal medicine and dietary changes to bring your organs and meridians into balance.

So how does this apply to Women’s Health and Fertility?
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches us that fertility is a woman’s natural state from the time of menarche until she reaches menopause. Fertility relies on the eb and flow within the network of organs, hormones, and energy systems within a woman’s body. One of the beauties of Eastern medicine is that there is no separation of mind, body, emotions and spirit, and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment is based upon supporting and balancing them all. Even though the organ systems in Traditional Chinese Medicine are considered to perform the same function as they do in Western Medicine, in Chinese Medicine these organs have additional responsibilities. When we think of a woman’s menstrual cycle and reproductive health, in Western Medicine one would assess hormones and her uterus for the cause. In comparison, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, menstrual irregularities can be caused by problems with either the meridians or the Organs other than the Uterus. She will have to have enough Essence in her Kidneys, and enough Blood supplied by the Liver and Spleen. Treating menstrual problems with Traditional Chinese Medicine, therefore may involve the Penetrating and Conception Vessel meridians, and/ or the Kidneys, Liver or Spleen. Treatment would aim to nourish a woman’s Qi and Blood, the Essence, or balancing Yin and Yang within the body.

How can Acupuncture support your body throughout your pregnancy?
There is definitely a place for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture from the moment a woman is open to conceiving, throughout pregnancy as well as postpartum care. During the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, treatments are focussed on supporting the symptoms of the first trimester. Treatments using specific points to nourish Qi and blood to support energy, calming the Central Nervous System to reduce any stress or anxiety as well are reducing the frequency and severity of any nausea and/ or vomiting symptoms.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the Penetrating Vessel has a close relationship with the Stomach channel and the uterus. Disorders of the Penetrating Vessel can therefore lead to rebellious qi which interferes with the descending action of the Stomach, leading to nausea and vomiting. It is believed that from the moment of conception the Penetrating Vessel undergoes profound changes, as menstruation is no longer occurring and the blood and essence of the Penetrating Vessel are now required to nourish the now growing baby.

As a woman comes into her second trimester, we see this is when they often feel their best. The nausea and vomiting will subside anywhere from this 13 week point, up until 20 weeks. However, it is important to note that a small percentage of women will experience nausea and/ or vomiting throughout their entire pregnancy. A woman’s energy also returns and we often see her overall well being improve. Symptoms that may arise during the later stages of her second trimester and into the third trimester, is that she may start to experience musculoskeletal aches and pains, heartburn, changes in sleeping patterns including insomnia as well as the same lethargy she experienced during her first trimester. As with all acupuncture treatments, dosage is important and this frequency will change throughout the pregnancy. Your practitioner will be able to guide you on the best time to come in for appointments throughout each trimester to support your body during the 9 months.


By Georgia Payten
TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist at The Pagoda Tree.

May 18th, 2023|

What is the Fourth Trimester? And how can we support the mother during the Postpartum period?

What is the Fourth Trimester? And how can we support the mother during the
Postpartum period?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and culture, the first month after giving birth is crucial to the immediate and future health of both the mother and her baby. This is a period of time, where it is encouraged for the mother to rest, recuperate, and to also be supported. After the previous 9 months of growing a baby, it is not only important to ensure that her baby is healthy, but also she is healthy and ensuring she is supporting her body to recover. In most traditional cultures, in some way shape or form, the mother will rest for the first forty days post birth. In traditional Chinese culture, this practice is known as ‘sitting the month’, where mother is confined inside her home, away from the wind and cold, limiting socialising and is encouraged to rest. The term is is referred to as ‘the gateway’, or Zuo Yuezi, as it is the threshold between one way of being, and an entirely new existence – Your life before baby, and life with baby. The aim for spending dedicated time in this revitalising in-between space, is that
the mother will emerge more beautiful and rejuvenated than before.

So what are some practical ways to reclaim this wisdom?
Firstly, creating a support team around you, which can include asking for help from family members, friends and/ or mothers/ parents groups. If you live remotely, this can also mean having a good relationship with your GP. Secondly, with your support team, creating those healthy boundaries and clear expectations with family and friends that you’ll be spending this time at home to recover. I recommend educating friends and family members about the fourth trimester so they have an understanding of why you are doing it and how it will benefit your recovery.
In addition, prioritising rest, doing absolutely nothing and knowing it is good for you. I also recommend surrendering to the mess in the house, sleeping when your baby is napping throughout the day and not feeling socially pressured to be out and about “showing off” your baby. Priority and focus should be on limiting activity beyond baby care, mother-warming acupuncture treatment and resting as much as possible. In combination with prioritising warmth and warming the body through consuming warm foods, keeping the body warm especially the feet, and
avoiding any exposure to cold including swimming in the ocean for the first 40 days. This will help support a mother’s postpartum recovery, rebuilding her Qi and conserving her Jing for breastfeeding, future menstrual cycles, fertility and even to menopause.

Do you deserve the first four rty days?
A lot of mothers feel as though they don’t deserve or aren’t entitled to this transitional period from woman to mother. Another consideration is a woman’s circumstances during this time, whether she lives remotely, her partner or support person is back at work, she has other young children to take care of or if she is a single-parent. The simple answer, each and every woman deserves some kind of nourishment and support post birth. We have to remember, over the past 9 months, she has grown and birthed another human, that kind of energy expenditure needs adequate time to rebuild. Simple ways a mother can support herself during this stage, include ensuring she is showering daily, opening the windows and doors to let some fresh air in the house or sitting in the sun whether that be on her balcony, in her backyard or at a local park.

What are the Acupuncture treatment recommendations post birth?
There are a lot of benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture post birth. These treatments can support recovery and prevent any disharmonies that may arise, including deficiency of Qi, blood and/ or yin as well as blood stagnation or invasion of pathogenic cold.
These kinds of patterns can make a mother feel depleted, she may experience pain, cold hands and feet, dizziness and lightheadedness, a sense of apathy as well as anxiety and depression. Ideally, I like to see a mother come in for a treatment within the first 1-2 weeks post birth, this treatment is called ‘mother warming’, which is a one-off warming moxibustion treatment to help energise a woman and aid her recovery. The moxibustion is a Chinese mugwort leaf that is used as a heat source to stimulate acupuncture points. This moxibustion stick is used to warm the woman’s abdomen, from the area at the top of the pubic bone up to the navel, this should radiate a nice pleasant warmth feeling in the local area.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, I can also safely prescribe Chinese Herbs if needed in combination with diet and lifestyle advice.

If you would like to learn more about the Fourth trimester, I recommend the following resources:
● The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
● Golden Month by Jenny Allison
● The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach


By Georgia Payten
TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist at The Pagoda Tree.


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May 11th, 2023|

Pre-labour Acupuncture Treatments


When is the best time to have Pre-Labour Acupuncture treatment? And what are the
You may have heard of the term ‘Pre-Labour Acupuncture’ or ‘Acupuncture Induction’ from your midwife, a friend or even a family member talking about the results and experience they had with treatment to support and induce labour. So what does this treatment actually entail? And is there any research or evidence to back these claims? There is a common misconception that women will come in for a one off ‘Acupuncture Induction’ treatment at 40 weeks and spontaneous labour will be guaranteed. Although, you may have of a friend of a friend who had this experience and there is no doubt that there is some clinical evidence, the therapeutic benefit of Acupuncture as a pre-labour treatment comes from the cumulative effect of weekly Acupuncture treatments from 36 weeks. It is from this date of 36 weeks gestation, that we begin to use more stimulating Acupuncture points to relax the muscles and sinews, soften and ripen the cervix, calm the Central Nervous System and begin to prepare the body for the most efficient labour. In combination, we will discuss lifestyle and diet advice to begin to incorporate into your daily practices. We will then continue Acupuncture treatment until your due date, and discuss more frequent biweekly treatments if you go over. In clinical practice, in which pre-labour/ pre-birth Acupuncture treatment is used from 36 weeks, evidence shows when compared to the local population rates, there was an overall 35% reduction in the number of inductions (For primigravida women, this was a 43% reduction); 31%
reduction in the epidural rate, 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery; and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births (Betts & Lennox, 2006), with these positive results. Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective treatment for women seeking natural labour.

So how does the treatment differ to other Acupuncture treatments throughout
Throughout pregnancy, your Acupuncturist will be aware of contraindicated points and will avoid these areas. These specific points have a stimulating action and from a Chinese Medicine perspective will strongly move Qi and Blood through the channels and the uterus. Throughout pregnancy we want to support a nutritive and protective environment in the uterus where all nutrients and oxygen is directed to your developing baby. So Acupuncture points are minimal and treatment is focused on tonification and calming the mind and body. Comparatively, pre-labour Acupuncture treatments from 36 weeks are focussed on beginning to stimulate adequate flow of Qi and blood through the uterus. The contraindicated points that were avoided throughout pregnancy will now be safely used, by your registered Acupuncturist. These specific points will aid cervical dilation, relax and soften the ligaments prior to labour, support the descending action of the baby into the pelvis, calm the mind and prepare the body for the most efficient labour.

Will this treatment affect my baby?
A common question I am asked during a consultation is, ‘will this treatment hurt/ affect my baby?’. Put simply, Acupuncture performed by a registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner will be safe for you and your baby. Acupuncture is a safe alternative for women seeking natural pregnancy and labour support. For peace of mind, when booking in with a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, ensure they have further training and experience in treating Women’s Health and Pregnancy.

What if my baby is breeched?
If your baby is in the breech position, first and foremost it is important to check in with your care provider what your options are. Tools and techniques to encourage your baby to move into the optimal position of cephalic, have been shown to work best when your baby is at 34/35 weeks gestation as they have more room in the uterus to flip. Acupuncture and Moxa treatment is beneficial for turning breeched babies, however this treatment does differ from Pre-labour/ Pre-birth treatment. The focus is on turning the baby, rather than encouraging the baby to move into the pelvis for labour preparation.

For the best results and outcome from pre-labour/ pre-birth Acupuncture treatments, I recommend chatting to your registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner about booking in weekly appointments from 36 weeks gestation.

By Georgia Payten

TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist at The Pagoda Tree.


Betts, D. and Lennox, S. (2006). Acupuncture For Prebirth Treatment: An Observational Study
of its use in Midwifery Practice. Journal of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture,
17(3), pp.16–19.

April 20th, 2023|