Dietary/Lifestyle advice for first trimester of pregnancy

The first few months of pregnancy are a very important time for both you & your baby.

It is a time to nourish & relax your body, keeping your mind as calm as possible.

Traditional Chinese medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history of advocating that women modify their lifestyle throughout pregnancy, to ensure healthy babies and efficient births. This has involved advice on regulating physical activity, following dietary guidelines and maintaining a calm emotional state.

An early reference to this practice exists in the Records of the Historian which tells how the mother of the first emperor of the Western Zhou dynasty (11th century to 771 B.C.E.) refused to look upon adverse colours, hear indecent sounds, or the utterance of any arrogant words, and because of this she gave birth to a son who achieved great things. Later references to what became known as ‘foetal education’ included recommendations that pregnant women abstain from the use of non-prescribed medications, all alcohol and lifting heavy objects. Advice was also given on taking frequent leisurely walks and regulating sleep (avoiding both excessive sleep and undue fatigue). Abstaining from the seven passions, the five unfavourable tastes and all sexual activity was also seen as essential.

Dr. Xu Zi Cai (493-572 C.E.) detailed beneficial and detrimental foods for each month of pregnancy. During the second month of pregnancy, for example, the mother should avoid pungent, hot or drying foods, and if women experienced abdominal or umbilical fullness and a bearing down sensation in the third month, rooster soup should be taken.

As a woman approached the completion of her pregnancy, Dr. Xu Zi Cai advised that she concentrate her qi in the lower dantian, three cun below her umbilicus, to promote the growth of the foetus’s joints and its mental development.

Here are a few practical tips to help during this time:

  • Eat a warm breakfast which the body can digest easily e.g. porridge with dates & mollasses.
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest, e.g. soup & stews – & make with green leafy vegetables:  kale or spinach are especially nourishing… make these with some seaweed to add extra nourishment.
  • Make chicken stock from scratch, it provides so much nourishment.
  • Also, red fruits/veg are great for the heart so will calm & nourish… figs or red grapes being a few to choose from.
  • Tea:  nettle tea during the day will nourish your blood.
  • Concentrate on your lower abdomen, keeping in warm but not overheated.
  • If you watch tv – view funny, happy tv/movies – nothing disturbing like horrors/thrillers etc.
  • Go to bed early, if you can’t sleep, read something light & entertaining.
  • Take it really easy, no stresses or strains or unnecessary journeys or ventures.  If possible take it a little easier even if it means taking a few days off to rest, feet up!
  • Mind yourself, be happy & let others wait on you for a little while.

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