In traditional Chinese medical diagnostic terms, oedema during pregnancy will have a different cause depending where the swelling is located.
In addition, other symptoms accompanying the oedema will also have a bearing as to what the root cause of the problem may be.
For instance, swelling of the face and body accompanied with scanty urination is different to someone having swelling of the feet only during pregnancy.
There are three types of oedema according to Chinese medicine
These are oedema due to spleen or kidney weakness and the final one is a general problem of the energy having become blocked, often due to unresolved emotional issues.
How does the spleen cause oedema during pregnancy?
Chinese medical physicians have the view that the stomach takes in the food and the spleen processes the food. If the spleen is weak for some reason, then the food and water we consume is not processed properly, and therefore also not eliminated properly will lead to water accumulation causing oedema.
How do the kidneys cause oedema during pregnancy?
Another cause of oedema are weak kidneys as they can’t move enough fluids to the bladder and again the fluids accumulate and cause swelling. The kidneys also play an important role in many aspects of pregnancy and by default will become vulnerably weaker as the fetus grows because the baby keeps taking the mum’s kidney energy for itself!
How does the liver cause oedema during pregnancy?
Chinese medicine says that any emotion when in excess can cause physical problems. In particular frustration, anger, irritability and impatience can all block the liver energy which then hinders the normal circulation of energy which then affects fluid circulation.
What other symptoms may be present with oedema during pregnancy?
Serena Joe, a Wellington based acupuncturist who does a lot of work with pregnant women using acupuncture for pre-birth preparation says “A lot of pregnancy related symptoms like oedema, fatigue and pelvic pain can be helped with acupuncture at any stage of the pregnancy and more midwives are becoming aware of the benefits that acupuncture can bring”.
Can any foods help with oedema during pregnancy?
It is important for the pregnant mum to have ongoing kidney tonics particularly in the form of food during pregnancy. A simple home remedy is fresh river carp cooked with fresh ginger and Chinese yam Shan Yao to help strengthen the spleen and kidney and help with oedema.
John Kennedy of The Acupuncture Clinic -in Masterton says “There is still hesitancy of western women to take Chinese herbs during their pregnancy but foods like yam and carp are readily accepted”.