09.06.2015

Chinese medicine ideas for pregnancy diet

All over the world, pregnant women are bombarded with opinions about what to eat and what to avoid. For a pregnant woman with a particular clinical problem, she might prescribe an infusion brewed from as many as 12 different plants, including things like Bay Mao Gen, a bamboo-like grass that is believed to "cool the blood", or Huang Qin, a herb that, says Zhai, can help "protect the pregnancy".In many places, as in China, folk custom is slowly yielding to science. One way of overcoming this might be to provide pregnant women with personalised, scientifically sound dietary advice. According to this ancient practice of medicine, following a TCM fertility diet is believed to strengthen the womb and boost overall fertility in women (and men, too). In the US, birthmarks might be attributed to a mother's craving for strawberries or chilli peppers. But even in the best educated societies, evidence-free ideas continue to circulate, as anyone who's spent time on a Mums net forum will confirm. In parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, food taboos can prevent women from eating a balanced diet and deprive them of essential nutrients.


That's among the goals being pursued by Prof Phil Baker, Director of the National Centre for Growth and Development at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, many pregnant women are told that foods like papaya and pumpkin are too "hot" for the baby. I found the whole topic so contradictory that I stayed with my normal diet, although I gave up wine because it tasted bad. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long list of foods that can help get your body in shape — internally. Often, they've never been pregnant before, and they're desperate to do the best thing for their child.
But sound advice often gets packaged together with ideas that are closer to magic than to medicine.
Many African and Asian communities also share the mistaken belief that breastfeeding should be delayed for several days after birth, and that colostrums should not be fed to newborn babies.


In 2004, Dr Katri Raikkonen at the University of Helsinki in Finland published research that suggested a correlation between eating chocolate when pregnant and giving birth to a happy baby.
Dr Xiao Ping Zhai, who runs a pregnancy clinic in Harley Street and has been called the "fairy godmother of fertility" for her work helping women to conceive, says Chinese women are fast abandoning the wilder fringes of superstition."Some of these ideas are from a thousand years ago. These ideas persist, says Prof Carol Lummi-Keefe, Editor of the Handbook of Pregnancy and Nutrition, in part because inaccurate advice is given to pregnant women by people they trust.
I don't think anyone believes in them now, not even in my mother's generation." But although she's dismissive of some old beliefs, Zhai is a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and remains convinced there's a precious baby in the bathwater of eastern custom.



Baby pregnancy enough room
Pregnancy x ray sign


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