As anyone who’s been pregnant knows – pregnancy can be a wild ride. Even when things go smoothly and baby and mom are healthy, each day presents a different physical feeling, emotion, challenge, or milestone. The backache on Monday is replaced by an energy surge on Tuesday, which is swapped for fatigue on Wednesday, and maybe a little anxiety on Thursday and Friday. It is a brief, yet utterly unique, phase of life.
With many medications, foods and activities off limits during pregnancy, you may be left wondering “What can I do to help myself during this time?” Enter Chinese Medicine and the magic of prenatal acupuncture.
Acupuncture, when performed by a licensed and trained professional, is not only safe but extremely effective in managing pregnancy related symptoms. Our clinic helps patients during each of the four trimesters – from positive pregnancy tests, to labor preparation and through postpartum – and knows how invaluable this care can be. Below are a few of the things acupuncture may help you with during your pregnancy.
The beginning of pregnancy can bring up a whole host of emotions, regardless of the ease or challenges you had with conception. Research shows that acupuncture can be beneficial in the first few weeks of pregnancy to help you cope with these feelings of stress, as well as to ensure high quality sleep, and to regulate your hormones and immune system – all factors that contribute to a viable pregnancy. Apart from regulating these physiological factors, acupuncture can also be used to reduce nausea and vomiting, fatigue, constipation, and mood swings.
What is often referred to as the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy, the second trimester may bring you increased energy and a reprieve from bothersome first trimester symptoms. For others, however, these symptoms doggedly persist. If you are still experiencing emotional stress, physical discomfort, or have new complaints such as headache, acid reflux, or the beginnings of back, hip, or pelvic pain, acupuncture can be a great tool to help you through this middle trimester. Conditions such as gestational diabetes and labile blood pressure may also arise, and can be managed alongside the standard care of your OB or midwife.
Hooray, you’ve made it to the last leg of the race! But..what was that…you have how many months left to go? During this trimester, acupuncture can help with all the discomforts that come with a growing belly, including increased body pain, difficulty sleeping, swelling, and carpal tunnel. Acupuncture can also provide complimentary care (alongside primary care) for conditions such as elevated blood pressure (with a risk of preeclampsia), PROM, PUPPPS, and oligohydramnios.
Acupuncture and moxibustion are wonderful tools if you discover your baby is in breech positioning (when the baby is not head down) during your final months of pregnancy. Together, these modalities will help create the optimal womb environment for your baby to turn itself. Best results are seen between 32 – 36 weeks, although babies can still turn on their own up to 39 weeks.
The final thing we see pregnant people for in the third trimester is labor preparation! Treatments start at 36 weeks and include the use of acupuncture and acupressure to help ripen your cervix, decrease stress hormones (which can delay labor), and prepare your body to start labor naturally on its own.
Congratulations on your sweet little baby! The pregnancy and birth may be over, but our support to you is not. In Chinese Medicine, the postpartum period is used to build the foundation of good health for the rest of your life. It is paramount to address any conditions that may arise in these first few weeks (rather than waiting until your routine 6-week check up) to ensure an easy healing process. Conditions we see patients for during this time include low milk supply, postpartum depression and anxiety, perineal healing, cesarean section recovery, energy loss, and general aches and pain from labor and delivery.