How baby develops, according to integrative medicine


This post will launch a series that maps out some features of how you and your baby are developing over the next ten odd months—from an Eastern and a Western medical slant. The two models together can help us see why certain symptoms arise and correlate these changes with diet and lifestyle advice to address them. It’s a comprehensive approach that provides insightful guidance on caring for you and baby during each month of pregnancy.

Month one

The first weeks of gestation are correlated with the Chinese Liver System, We can think of this Chinese Liver as being loosely related to our Western nervous system. In fact, in fetal development (from both an Eastern and Western perspective), the nervous system is exactly what’s forming during this time: baby’s brain and spinal cord are already beginning to develop. The Chinese Liver System also has more allegorical associations with the element of wood, the color green and the springing forth of new life (think trees and plants bursting in the springtime).

So, a supportive technique for this stage is to take walks in beautiful places and soak in nature’s calming attributes, get some blood circulation and endorphins going, reflect and de-stress. In Chinese medicine, emotions and physiology are intimately paired. The first month, while baby’s nervous system is beginning to form, is a great opportunity to work on your own nervous system and develop connections to yourself, to your baby, and to your new life—setting the rhythm for the journey ahead of you.

Month two

This month correlates to the Chinese Gallbladder System, which carries with it the emotional themes of change, processing, and decision-making. You may have noticed yourself having different reactions to change than you’re used to, or more than usual moodiness. Don’t fret. You’re working overtime, and expressing a full range of whatever emotions may be present for you is an important part of ultimately more smoothly processing these physical and emotional changes. You’re not harming your baby by being in an unpredictable mood.

Just as you are working overtime, your actual gallbladder is clocking a lot of time as well. It may have difficulty processing greasy, fatty foods. You might find yourself beginning to veer toward a vegetarian diet, no matter how much of a carnivore you used to be. Just get protein where you can (remember quinoa is a protein too!).

Now that you’ve had a little time to adjust to being pregnant, it might be time to adjust some of your patterns and shift into new routines that make room for all that is required of you and your body right now. This may include relaxing into the back-and-forth flux while incorporating new ways of thinking, eating, or even feeling.

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