By Seven Crow.
The Taoist principles of Chinese medicine view the pregnant woman as the spiritual, mental, and physical vessel of the child. Through the primordial dance of the vital essence of two separate beings coming together with a mutual soul contract, a woman’s womb becomes a sacred repository, which receives these essences and alchemically transforms them into one, which grow to fruition within her. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the intrinsic role of the pregnant woman is to nourish and protect the growing being within her, who has come from spirit to be made of flesh and bone.
Since antiquity, TCM offers pregnant mothers customized protocols, which encompass the fields and practices of nutrition, herbalism, qigong, acupuncture and Tai Chi. Great importance is placed on each and every activity including what we do, eat, say, think, watch, read, listen to, and even where we live. All of this is considered relevant to the creation and development of the unborn child. There are even some families using these techniques to consciously conceive for the coming decedents of their lineage.
Jing (vital essence), Qi (energy/life-force) and Shen (heart/emotions/spirit) are the quintessential elements, which intersect to create the unique body-mind-spirit paradigm of each individual. Through their different genetic contributions as well as their unique psycho-spiritual dispositions and ancestral heritages, parents pass on these three aspects, which synergize to create the unique energetic map of their child. This confluence known in TCM as the Three Treasures and serves as a lifelong guide to understanding the inner world of the child including their particular physical, emotional and energetic makeup.
The Three Treasures (Jing, Qi, and Shen) are known in Chinese as Sanbao. They are the pillars of both Chinese medicine and Taoist theory concerning the creation and maintenance of human life. Jing relates to our core essence and vitality. It is given to us through our parents and strengthened by the food we eat, herbs we take and practices we participate in. It also governs aging, development, and our ability to procreate. Qi is often translated as energy, but is also considered life-force. It is the flow of energetic movement within us that keeps us going each day, governs our wellbeing, and is harnessed through the breath and the practice of qigong. When Qi flows everything, including our emotions becomes harmonious. Shen is the spirit, which incorporates the mind, heart, thoughts, emotions, and our individual connection to the Tao or Source. Wisdom and a calm demeanor are outward manifestations of a strong Shen, which is cultivated through spiritual practices and self-reflection.
The three months to a year before a child is conceived is considered to be the optimal time to shape the parents health into producing the best quality Jing to pass along onto to the baby. Both woman and man must look deeply into their health patterns. The quality of Jing is noted in the health of the egg and sperm as well as the ability to be fertile. Taking into careful consideration the physical-mental-emotional-energetic components of each parent, referred to as the constitution in TCM as well as Ayurveda, a protocol can be created to identify which healthy and non-healthy habits are already in place as well as what would be the best foods and herbal support to nourish and improve the quality of the blood, qi and womb. If there has been signs of infertility in the past, miscarriage, or menstruation issues all of these factors would be addressed to provide the most supportive care.
A few basic suggestions for all who wish to walk the Taoist path into conception is not to have cold or raw foods in excess, however if one lives in a tropical climate more of these foods can be tolerated. Foods and drinks that are cold in nature can cause blood stagnation, create spasms or contractions in the tissues, and reduce our ability to absorb nutrition. The womb, called Zi Gong, the “seed or palace of the child” in Mandarin Chinese, prefers to be warm which in turn allows for a healthier reproductive system.
Eating lots of vegetables, high quality protein, herbal supplementation as needed and refraining from coffee, alcohol and cigarettes are all included in empowered self-care. Limit upsetting media, news and unnecessary wireless communication, all which contribute to disrupting the body’s life-force. Aiming to get adequate sleep improves overall quality of life. Integrating these simple guidelines can allow parents to access, strengthen and transfer the best aspects of their Jing, Qi, and Shen to their future child.
TCM offers additional support in the forms of acupuncture, tai chi, qi gong and massage. The effects of incorporating these practices and therapies are myriad include realigning one’s circadian rhythms for optimal energy, keeping the subtle and physical channels of the body open and clear, hormone balancing and stress reduction. Consulting with a Chinese medicine practitioner is the best way to ensure safety of your chosen practices.
Chinese medicine uses many animal products as herbal and nutritional supplemental. On a personal note, having grown up vegan/vegetarian and using no animal products in my clinical practice I have still had great results. Yet when I moved to the Andes of Peru, I found it difficult to stay vegan during my pregnancy in the high altitude because of the effect it had on my blood production. As I became threatened by losing my child due to lack of sufficient nutrients, I came to the understanding that anything can be medicine under the right circumstances. With this realization, I began to incorporate bone broth and meat into my diet during my pregnancy, resulting in my healthy son being born. Had I stayed in the US to birth, I would have had access to herbs and supplements that could have best supported my vegan choices. Returning to a vegan lifestyle supports my personal wellbeing, yet everyday I am thankful for my choice to understand that all life feeds life, including plants with the animals, which helped me birth my son.
May this overview help to support the journey of birthing you wish to embody.
Seven Crow is a Chinese medicine practitioner, herbalist, doula, midwife’s assistant, vegan nutritionist, teacher, priestess and mother who blends Taoist, Native American, and Andean wisdom teachings together to offer a truly unique healing perspective. Deeply connected to plants, Nature’s cycles, the Medicine Wheel, and the moon, she draws on these energies to harmonize a person’s body within the treatment. Having held space and facilitated birth in multiple countries around the world, she continues to support pregnancy through teaching doulas, mothers, and fellow healers in one-on-one mentorship programs, courses, workshops, and retreats. She has offered her services in various clinics internationally, supporting women’s health, pediatrics, and Indigenous populations through acupuncture, midwifery, herbalism, and nutrition. Her passion for natural medicine in all forms and Indigenous healing techniques guides her to continue studying local plants, barefoot medicine, and spiritual expressions of Source through ritual, ceremony, prayer, and song. Empowering women and children to become their own healers through alignment with their blood cycles, connection to Mother Earth, and plant spirit communication, Seven continues to bridge the gap between her Ancestral lineages and Women’s Wisdom along her Medicine Woman Path. She lives in the Sacred Valley of Peru with her amazing son, Ananda Kai. She can be found at sevencrowmedicine.com and nourishthespirit.net