Oedema or fluid retention is a common side effect of pregnancy, no doubt with a baby pressing on all your vital organs and lymph nodes along with all the excessive blood the body makes… fluid is bound to eventually accumulate.
According to Chinese medicine, the fluid retention can be due to stomach or spleen deficiency (digestion related) but is essentially caused by kidney yang deficiency. The kidney yang governs the water metabolism in the body, when the yang or fire is deficient, there is not enough warmth to push the fluid around the body and it will tend to pool. This may seem strange considering most women overheat during pregnancy. However overheating in pregnancy is usually due to stagnation in the body, thus is a ‘false heat’ with an underlying deficiency of kidney yang. As you know, your acupuncturist is always aiming to balance all your organ energies and meridians for your optimum health.
Acupuncture and moxibustion can help nourish the kidney yang, which also helps the baby to grow, and for the blood and fluids to circulate appropriately. Acupoints are selected according to the presenting pattern of the patient. Moxa is usually applied to the kidney points on the ankle, sometimes the lower back and spleen areas.
Chinese herbs are also beneficial to take, given the body may be struggling with keeping up with the demands of pregnancy. Chinese herbs are safe to take during pregnancy and can top the body up when baby is taking all it needs from you.
Other things can be done by the mother to minimise swelling:
- Consider if you are getting enough salt, mineral demands are high in pregnancy. So you can salt you food liberally, I recommend Celtic sea salt. Avoid processed salt.
- Go swimming in the sea, full of minerals and then have a little sunbake to warm up your kidney yang 🙂
- Limit over standing, and put your feet up when you are at home
- If sitting a lot, try and move around regularly – walking is fantastic to get the lymph (fluid) moving
- Ensure you are drinking enough water
- avoid caffeine, sadly even if you are on that odd cup of tea or coffee! Replace it with dandelion root tea, it is a delicious beverage when you add some milk to it, great for moving fluid and caffeine-free. My favourite is dandelion chai.
- Eat real foods, dairy should be full-fat, bread needs to be sourdough, plenty of fruits, semi-polished rice, veg, some nuts, grass-feed meats with the real fat, root veg etc. Avoid processed foods.
- Avoid cold food and drink, keep your feet, lower back, legs and tummy covered and away from draughts.
- Try a cup of water with one small tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, this is rich in potassium which can benefit your electrolyte balance.
Swelling is common in pregnancy, always keep your medical practitioner informed of it, try acupuncture and moxibustion, and look after yourself.
@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe