Here’s how to survive the home stretch:
Month six is governed by the Chinese Stomach system. The Stomach is paired with the digestive functions of the Spleen that we explored in month five. Where the Spleen is more about what you’re taking in, the Stomach breaks down and uses that material for fuel. From an Eastern and Western point of view, when the Stomach isn’t adequately processing, it rebels and creates symptoms such as acid regurgitation (reflux) and hiccups.
Let’s also remember that baby is starting to physically compress the stomach now. So, there is some inevitable revolt. The best strategy is to eat frequent small meals from here on out and minimize dry, dehydrated foods like crackers, popcorn, and dried fruit, which can leach the moisture out of the stomach and intestines, contributing to constipation, or spicy foods, which can agitate the lining of the stomach and intestines even more.
Breathe deeply. Okay, more realistically: shallowly but frequently. This is the month of the Chinese Lung. This Lung system includes our whole respiratory tract as well as our skin—our first two interfaces and boundaries against invading pathogens.
Just as keeping your immune system well is a priority in pregnancy, so is creating boundaries that enable you to focus on your task at hand and not overextend yourself. And just as breathing brings oxygen-rich regeneration to your cells, the Lung system is about renewal, so as you breathe in and breathe out, this is a great time to practice receiving and letting go—asking for help and disregarding the tasks you can’t get to. It’s great practice for impending motherhood.
The cyclical, involuntary nature of breathing is also a great thing to observe at this time. A guided, mindful, breath-orientated practice may help you move toward receptivity—especially during labor, when breath will truly be your guide.
This month is associated with the Chinese Large Intestine system. On a functional Western level, the large intestine is about assimilating nutrients and eliminating waste. This month, you and your baby continue to absorb nutrition in preparation for baby to move out. This can be a good time to contemplate what you need to hold onto and what you can let go of in order to assist you in surrendering to the birth process with as few impediments as possible. It’s also worth noting that having a bowel movement is a normal part of the active birth process. So, if you knew this and had any particular reservations, work on letting them go, and if you didn’t know this, now you do!
Month nine is associated with the Chinese Kidney system, which is analogous to the endocrine system. This month is a culmination of all of the reproductive processes that have transpired from conception until now, and the Kidneys as much as they are responsible for holding the baby in, also govern the letting go. The element associated with the Kidneys is water. This is a time of going with the flow, so to speak. Very literally, your water will break this month to pave the way for the passage of your baby. The Kidneys are the most fundamental system in Chinese medicine. This system gives rise to immunity and genetics—all things that you have passed onto your baby. The Kidneys are also associated with winter, so no matter what season it is, this is a good time to go inward and be as dormant as possible in order to build your reserves for birth and beyond. You’re almost at the finish line of pregnancy!