5 Phases of Pregnancy

During the 40 or so weeks of pregnancy your body will transition through 5 ‘phases’ of growth.

The ‘Five Phases‘ is a major thought system dating back over 2000 years, and is the basis of Traditional Asian Medicine. It provides a rich, integrated way of understanding the interconnectedness of all life.

The Five Phases are wood, fire, earth, metal and water and they represent the changing patterns of all natural phenomena… including pregnancy.

WOOD PHASE – Healthy iron levels at the time of conception is important for a healthy pregnancy, to avoid postpartum anemia, and to provide sufficient iron storesfor breastfeeding. If there are difficulties getting pregnant or staying pregnant, we need to understand what is happening with the blood and address any issues regarding the quality, quantity or flow of blood during menstruation. Conception and pregnancy require a healthy uterus lining and rich placenta, and these depend on an healthy supply of nourishing blood.

The goal of treatment is to ensure a good, healthy flow of blood in the uterus and the whole body and to correct any menstrual imbalances such as heavy/light periods, long/short cycles, period pain, blood clots etc.

FIRE PHASE –  From around the 6th week of pregnancy fluctuating hormones can result in nausea and vomiting in many women. During this time the placenta is growing and there is some evidence that the hormones hCG and progesterone play a big part in this nausea. From 12 ½ weeks onwards the baby becomes completely dependent on the placenta for all of it’s nourishment and hCG levels subsequently diminish.

During this phase, the goal of treatment is to support the body through these hormonal fluctuations, support digestion and reduce nausea.

EARTH PHASE – The main function for the mother’s body during this time is blood production and growth of the fetus and from 23 weeks onwards the baby really starts grow. This can put a strain on the mother’s iron supply, especially if nausea has been severe, or demands on time and energy are high. Dizziness, forgetfulness, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, puffiness, leg cramps and other symptoms related to poor transformation of food into Ki, Blood and Fluids can appear at this time.

Treatment aims to support and strengthen digestion to improve the quality and quantity of blood for the mother and the developing baby, and reduce symptoms.

METAL PHASE – The baby is quite large now but is still sitting high and cramping the diaphragm. This can result in shortness of breath and palpitations. The placenta has started to provide oxygen to the baby and the lungs.

Acupuncture points relating to the diaphragm and the lung are examined for painful areas and moxa and needles applied. Additionally, pressure on the pelvis can result in lower back pain and constipation, and this can also be addressed in treatment.

WATER PHASE – The baby will now be sitting quite low in the pelvis. Muscle flexing, contractions and cramps are common – Braxton hicks (uterine tightening) is often felt as the body prepares for labour. Increased demands on the mother’s blood supply and nervousness around the impending birth can lead to anxiety and tiredness. Sufficient iron stores in the mothers body are necessary going into labour and for breast feeding.

Mother’s shoulders, hips and sacrum are often very tight and loosening these areas can really help her relax. Starting around week 32 the acupuncture point Shi In (Bladder 67) is often used to correct breach presentations and to help bring on labour.

POST-PARTUM – Moxa is believed to be very nourishing to the mother post-partum, particularly in her lower abdominal and lower back areas. Traditionally know as “Mother Roasting” this treatment creates a sensation of gentle, penetrating warmth that deeply relaxes and energises the mother to aid her recovery. This is usually a one off treatment, given around day four or five post natally unless there are complications.