Pregnancy in Chinese medical texts

What does Chinese medicine say about pregnancy?I’m away at a Qigong retreat this weekend (we take one a term in the Classical Chinese Medicine program at NCNM), but didn’t want to leave you folks without content. 🙂 Two fellow bloggers were kind enough to offer posts – one from G. Michael Reynolds over at the Life Giving Sword and the other from Yael Ernst at Chinese Medicine Notes. I hope you will enjoy them both.

First up, Yael with her post about Pregnancy in Chinese medical texts. I don’t talk much about women’s health here, but not because I have no interest in it. I think this will provide a good introduction for folks who are wondering what Chinese medicine has to say about the process of pregnancy and its effects on the female body.


In the post The Foundation of Pregnancy we looked at the physical aspect of pregnancy in women. In this post I would like to present what Sun Si Miao ( wrote regarding the pregnancy itself. But, before I talk about Sun Si Miao, I would like to present Ye Heng Yin, and his description of conception. Ye Heng Yin was a gynecology expert from the Qing dynasty. He wrote the Nu Ke Zhi Nan (A Guide to Gynecology).

In this guide, Yin says that the Tian Gui is the contribution of the father and the mother, the form of heaven and true Qi that are formed in the body. The essence and blood that changed form, from fluids and grains, are the root of the creation of post-heaven. In males- Tian Gui arises at 8X2 (16), since men are Yang and belong to the sun. That is why their daily essence becomes more and more vital. In females – Tian Gui arises at 7X2 (14), since women are Yin and belong to the moon. That is why their blood flows out of the body once a month. At the time when man and woman unite, the original Qi of pre-heaven, the essence of post heaven, the blood, the Yin and the Yang all gather together. This allows for the arrival of children.

One must not treat or touch the meridian during it’s month of effect on the pregnancy

Moving now to Sun Si Miao… He explains that in each month, the fetus is nourished by a different channel and each has it’s own different effect and impact on pregnancy. The pulse of the organ system involved will be weak, as its Qi nourishes the fetus. If during treatment we need to address the channel during its month of effect, we can do so. We simply have to use indirect methods. We can access the organ system through the Back-shu points or by treating a paired organ (using five element or six conformation pairing, or some other).

Now for some specifics regarding the individual months of pregnancy…

1st month

Gestation of Raw Material. The fetus is like a dew drop!

The meridian of this month: Liver. The liver has a role in everything that has to do with the period and during pregnancy. This reminds us of the power of spring.

2nd month

The fetus is at the level of CV3. The fetus is referred to as Gao – fertility dough.

The meridian of the month: Gall Bladder. The GB is in charge of the essences. We still have the energetic influence of spring, the breakthrough of life. Since this month is very important for the fetus to be rooted in the uterus, it is a resting time for the mother.

3rd month

The beginning of the embryo. The fetus is like a silkworm’s pupa.

The meridian of the month: Pericardium. You can read more about Pericardium through a Classical Chinese Medicine perspective at Chinese Medicine Central.

4th month

The fetus connects with the Dantian. The body and form are becoming much more solidified.

The meridian of the month: San Jiao/Triple Burner

The element of the month: Water. The Zhi of the mother goes to the fetus. The first 3 months are very basic and there’s no certainty. As of the 4th month there’s a good chance for the fetus to survive the pregnancy and the elements come into the picture as do heavenly energies. When matter has the vital potential for life the rest of the elements come in.

5th month

The Uterus is being held firm in its place. One can feel the fetus moving in the Uterus.

The meridian of the month: Spleen. It is recommended to the mother to do things in their right timing and in a balanced way. The balance and stability of Earth needs to be invoked.

The element of the month: Fire. The Shen of the mother goes to the fetus.

6th month

The fetus is like a fish in its mother Uterus. It has real stability and form.

The meridian of the month: Stomach. The eyes and mouth are developing and the 5 tastes are in the fetus’ mouth. Salivary glands also develop in this month. It is recommended for the mother to eat delicate and sweet food.

The element of the month: Metal. The Po of the mother goes to the fetus.

7th month

The fetus grows big. The hair, the bones and ligaments are formed and all the sense organs are developing.

The meridian of the month: Lung. It is said that the mother should avoid cold, yelling and crying.

The month of the month: Wood. The Hun of the mother goes to the fetus.

8th month

Zang Fu completed.

The meridian of the month: Large Intestine. The 9 orifices are completed at this point.

The element of the month: Earth. The Yi of the mother goes to the fetus.

It is said that the mother’s spirit should be calm so not to create shocks in the Qi flow. One can feel the reactions of the fetus according the mother’s moods.

9th month

The fetus receives the Jade essence, which is the seal of approval that everything is ready.

The meridian of the month: Kidneys. It is recommended to the mother to avoid tight clothes and to eat sweet food.

10th month

Fetus is ready to come out.

The meridian of the month: Bladder. It is possible to treat this meridian if there’s a need to start labor or if you want to turn the fetus from a breech position. All the Yin organs are completed, the Yang organs are clear from stagnations, the heaven and earth were absorbed, the spirit of the man (fetus) is complete and all that is left is to be born. The mother should concentrate on the Dantian.



Extraordinary Fu- Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee and Claude Larre

Chinese Gynecology studies with Yael Saslove- 2006- Israel


From the Editor (Eric): With all of this in mind, how can we extend our understanding of pregnancy from a Chinese medicine perspective? How can we best advise our patients during their pregnancy? It seems that most Western people in contemporary times want to live their normal lifestyle during and directly after pregnancy, not taking the time necessary to fully nourish themselves and their fetus. What are the consequences of this? We would all love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments.

About Eric Grey

Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.

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