Nine Healthy Months: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) During Pregnancy
Can acupuncture really help during pregnancy?
Practiced for centuries in the east, TCM and acupuncture can support and sustain a happy and healthy pregnancy. For many women, acupuncture can be a safe, pleasant, and cost effective treatment for the many concerns associated with pregnancy. More importantly however, acupuncture can help prevent potential issues by maintaining a healthy balance for both mother and child to be.
- Miscarriage: Acupuncture can prevent uterine contractions, relax the body, and provide a lifting and holding force in the uterus.
- Nausea and digestive issues: For many women, the digestive system becomes very sensitive during pregnancy. This reflects the body’s innate response to protect against foods and outside toxins that may harm the fetus. TCM and acupuncture can alleviate nausea, treat heartburn, relieve constipation, and even calm hemorrhoids.
- Fatigue, swelling, and poor circulation: By helping the body maintain a healthy balance, acupuncture can boost energy and circulation. From bloating and swollen ankles to sinus congestion, systemic acupuncture treatment can ease the discomfort of pregnancy for both mother and child.
- Blood pressure imbalances: Acupuncture can help to decrease hypertension and normalize blood flow throughout the body.
- Pain and discomfort: Each stage of pregnancy welcomes new opportunities for discomfort. Acupuncture has been known to lessen a bevy of symptoms, including low back pain, sciatica, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Psychological stress: When the body is out of balance, worry, anxiety, and overall tension can increase. This is especially true during pregnancy when each month, week, day, hour, or even minute can affect hormone levels in the body. These natural fluctuations are exacerbated when the body is unhealthy and imbalanced. Acupuncture can be deeply relaxing and reduce stress for the mother and developing baby. Regular treatment encourages the open flow of energy throughout the pregnancy and may help offset the development of postpartum depression.
- Other prenatal issues: Slow intrauterine development, lack of amniotic fluid, and hemorrhaging can present hurdles and cause concern. Acupuncture can help address these possible worries.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How often are treatments needed?
Acupuncture treatments can be performed either weekly throughout the pregnancy or on an as-needed basis. To make the most of your experience, it’s important to find a well-trained, caring practitioner with expertise in prenatal acupuncture. And as with any healthcare partner you choose during the course of your pregnancy, you should feel comfortable and confident in your practitioner.
- Can acupuncture correct breech presentation?
In many cases, acupuncture can reverse breech presentation. The technique is most effective late in pregnancy, preferably around 32 to 34 weeks, but starting as early as possible. Treatment after week 36 tends to be less successful, as the baby has less room to move and turn.
- Can acupuncture help with labor pains?
Acupuncture paves the way for a smooth labor and delivery. When given at the right time and ideal frequency, acupuncture can be an effective way to prepare the body and shorten the length of “hard” labor. It is best to start labor preparation acupuncture around week 35 and receive treatment at least once weekly for the duration of pregnancy. Note that acupuncture for labor preparation is not intended as a replacement for an epidural. Treatments are designed to lessen the need for pain medications and decrease labor time. In fact, many women who wish to attempt a natural birth opt for acupuncture and decline an epidural due to the shortened time in labor.
How acupuncture can help with labor:
- Encourages a faster labor: Certain acupuncture points can be stimulated to prepare the cervix to relax and open more easily. These points encourage the downward and opening flow of energy and reduce any blockages that may have developed during the pregnancy.
- Reduces pain: Many points in acupuncture relax the mind and body, improve circulation, and strengthen the pelvic floor.
- Prevents tearing / episiotomy: Treatment can significantly improve the contractility of the perineum.
- Eases fear and stress: Fear and stress can increase pain sensations and cause more tension in the body. Easing the emotional build up during pregnancy can prove to be very calming and helpful during labor and delivery.
- Supports post-due-date labor: Acupuncture can direct energy towards the pelvis and stimulate a strong, moving energy flow. This can surge the release of qi and blood to the pelvis. This in turns helps stimulate uterine contractions and ease the transition into labor.
- Prevents postpartum disorders: The maintenance and restoration of a new mother’s health is essential for her own well being and her ability to care for her newborn. After delivery, acupuncture can be a wonderful, safe, and effective way to heal and rebalance a woman’s body. Fatigue, postpartum vaginal discharge, postpartum depression, post-caesarian healing, mastitis, and lactation concerns are just a handful of postpartum conditions that acupuncture can address.