Pregnancy Care Acupuncture
Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through reproductive assistance, acupuncture can help optimize your fertility. TCM helps regulate your menstrual cycle, improve blood flow to your reproductive organs, calms the mind and reduces stress in the mind and body. Acupuncture has been shown to improve IVF success rates too. Infertility can be stressful on the body and mind, incorporating Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine into your treatment plan can improve you success.
Acupuncture is safe and effective in all trimesters of a woman’s pregnancy, the treatment is relatively painless and there are no adverse side effects for either you or your baby. If you find acupuncture relaxing and useful, feel free have acupuncture as much as you like. However, most pregnant women visit us as needed and I encourage them to use me as a resource coming in when they are uncomfortable.
Pregnancy is not an illness and most women do not need regular ongoing treatment. However acupuncture can be an excellent choice to address common pregnancy ailments in a safe, gentle, drug-free manner.
The First Trimester
- Morning Sickness
- Headaches and nausea
In the first trimester, it is common to have pregnant woman come in for acupuncture. Many women struggle with fatigue and nausea at this time. Usually they haven’t told friends and colleagues about their pregnancy yet so they struggle to act as if everything is normal whilst feeling strange and off-kilter. It can feel like a bit of a battle. Acupuncture can help with the fatigue and has been shown in clinical trials to be effective for nausea and vomiting.
A study of women who had been hospitalized for severe pregnancy vomiting showed that acupuncture was a useful treatment. Researchers randomly assigned 33 women to acupuncture treatments at a specific point (PC6) on the underside of the wrist, or to sham treatments at a different spot. After two days, all treatments were stopped for two days to allow any effects to dissipate. Then the groups were reversed for two more days of treatment. Before treatment all women were vomiting. On day three, only seven out of seventeen women (41 percent) receiving active acupuncture were still vomiting compared with 12 out of 16 (75 percent) receiving sham treatment. After the active and sham groups were switched, more of the women receiving active treatment stopped vomiting.
Some women also suffer from headaches and migraines at this stage and find acupuncture to be a useful way of addressing them. The other common problem that women complain of is constipation. There are acupuncture points to help this although as my mother would swear to a little prune juice goes a long way.
The Second Trimester
- Excessive weight gain
- Back pain
- High blood pressure
The list above might seem like the first trimester is easier, however, by the second trimester women are feeling much better, and come in less frequently
As your baby grows, however, you may start to feel the strain on your back. Acupuncture has been shown in several clinical trials to be a safe and effective way of relieving pregnancy related back pain
For hemorrhoids acupuncture and a soothing herbal balm can be effective and can treat edema and heart burn. Along with your doctor we can help you with high blood pressure.
The Third Trimester
- Back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Breech position
- Labour Preparation and Induction of labor (if necessary)
It is in this trimester that acupuncture’s ability to gently relieve pain comes into its own. I always caution my patients to look after their back at this time and not to lift anything heavy. The combination of your ligaments softening in preparation for labor and your centre of gravity being pulled off by a big bump makes you susceptible to back injury. Acupuncture is a great way of relieving your discomfort without having to resort to pharmaceuticals.
If your baby is breech it is worth coming in for moxibustion. There is a proven technique that involves burning an herb above the small toe that has been shown in trails to be an effective method of turning breech babies. In some clinical trials it has been found to be effective 67% of the time.
How does a ‘burning herb’ work on turning a baby… and it’s important to note that the techniques does not miraculously pivot the baby. What it does is relax the uterine walls a little so that the baby has more room to move. Some babies follow their instinct and use this space to move head downwards and some don’t. Personally I have found it hard to get the desired effect after the 37th week.
I use electro-stimulation to stimulate contractions and in many cases this gets a sluggish labor started without the need for a chemical induction. I always tell my patients to come in and see me in the last month of their pregnancy so that I can prepare them for labor. I do acupuncture to relax the pelvic muscles and near the big day I needle acupuncture points that help dilate the cervix. Labor is an unpredictable event so I can’t promise anything but patients that we have prepared do, on the whole, seem to have shorter and easier labours.
Pre-Birth Acupuncture & Labour Preparation
Acupuncture staring within weeks 36/37 done on a weekly basis addresses positional issues of the baby (breech), ripens the cervix, and helps create a more timely and efficient labour. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of C section and prolonged labour time and reduction of pain during labour. Employing acupuncture/acupressure during labour may reduce the need for pain medications and help the mother stay relaxed. Postpartum acupuncture is effective in the re-balancing of hormones and restoring physical balance - treating conditions such as depression, anxiety and breast- feeding issues.