I was immensely pleased to be asked by the publishers of The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth to write a foreword.
I am very heartened by the arrival of each new book by practitioner authors such as Debra Betts; such books represent the maturing of the first generation of Chinese medicine authors who live and practise their art in Western cultures.
When I began to study Chinese medicine in the 1970s there was only one English language text describing any aspect of the medicine and that was a translation of some of the chapters of an ancient classic called the Huang Di Nei Ching. We dutifully studied its contents, trying to make sense of this different viewpoint, floundering in unfathomable cultural waters. It was not until the 1980’s that “real” traditional Chinese medicine texts became available in English when the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing produced The Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture.
Then in the 1990’s there was a flood, mostly of translations of Chinese texts and their commentaries. Now in the 21st century with books like The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth the next generation of Chinese medicine literature has arrived, with invaluable contributions from authors who have practised Chinese medicine for decades on Western patients in Western settings.
After many years of work in their clinics in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, USA, Europe etc., treating patients of mostly non-Asian background with Asian medicine, they have something very valuable to say. We cannot all be specialists in every area of medicine and I, like many of my colleagues, have much to learn from such practitioners who after years of effort and focus, take the time to commit the essence of their experience to paper.
Western authors of Chinese medicine books are writing less and less about what they have been taught by their teachers or textbooks and bit by bit are beginning to speak from a deeper understanding gained through their own experience. Such a burgeoning of expertise and maturity in the practice of Chinese medicine is important as a counterpoint to the highly technical and very costly biomedical system that is our dominant medical model.
In China, texts with sections dedicated to obstetrics date as far back as the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and since the early 20th century this invaluable. Traditional resource has been incorporated with Western medicine knowledge in texts devoted specifically to obstetrics. We are lucky that many of these texts have been translated into English by such authors as Giovanni Maciocia, Bob Flaws, Steve Clavey, Dan Bensky and Will Maclean amongst others.
Acupuncturists like Debra Betts have benefited from the wide availability of such material and have taken it to next stage of professional application, making it their own and taking it out of the classroom and library and into the hospital ward or clinic.
What Debra Betts does so skilfully in this book is distil all the knowledge we have available to us from written history into a practical compilation of what has actually worked in practice for her patients.
The Essential Guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth presents its entirely practical and usable information in a succinct, simple and elegant form which is easy to access and in language which is easy to read.
In so doing it encourages inter-professional exchange - an important part of the development of Chinese medicine in the west.
Pregnant women are one group of patients who are particularly highly motivated when it comes to finding drug free solutions to medical problems. It is surely just a matter of time before hospital antenatal clinics routinely incorporate acupuncture as a safe and relatively cheap solution to many of the disorders of pregnancy. This process is starting here in Australia and also in the United Kingdom and it I believe that Debra Betts, through writing this book, has made an important contribution to the flourishing of such clinics.
Jane Lyttleton, Sydney, 2006