Acupuncture is commonly used to relieve discomfort that is often regarded as a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy.
It is effective in relieving common pregnancy complaints including pregnancy-related fatigue, headaches, back neck or body pains, heartburn, constipation, nausea or vomiting, dermatitis, swelling or puffiness in face or limbs, cramps and more.
Acupuncture can also be an effective tool to treat more complex conditions. It may be combined with Chinese herbal medicines used to stop bleeding and prevent miscarriage, it can stimulate development in ‘small-for-dates’ babies, and reduce maternal blood pressure to prevent preeclampsia and more.
After your baby is born your body must rapidly adapt to a new set of demands.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines can help your body recover from the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth.
Both will be beneficial for you after birth if you are fatigued, depressed, feverish, sweating, restless, bleeding, dizzy, constipated or in pain.
Acupuncture is effective in treating mastitis and regulating your milk supply and can also help to restart your menstruation and protect your future fertility.
When should I seek acupuncture treatment in my pregnancy?
If you have specific health issues then make an appointment to see an acupuncturist, who has experience treating pregnant women, as soon as you fall pregnant.
Acupuncture will work best to change the course of events when applied early – so if you see spots of blood or have abdominal cramps, an ultrasound will not save your baby but an acupuncture treatment might.
If you are enjoying a smooth untroubled pregnancy then do nothing until the last weeks of your pregnancy. You then may like to have 1-2 sessions with your acupuncturist to prime your body for labour and the delivery.
If, like most women, you are busy working, keeping home and already have several dependents, you will find the extra effort of growing another human being is huge. A regular acupuncture session will boost your energy and make you feel lighter, brighter, calmer and more focused.
Acupuncture during the first trimester focuses on laying a healthy foundation for your pregnancy. Treatment is given to help divert your resources to nourishing your baby and to support the rapid growth of the baby, the womb and lining.
The signs that indicate you need this support include fatigue, dizziness, heaviness in back or limbs, body aches, nausea, vomiting, or spots of vaginal bleeding.
During your first 12 weeks treatment is most commonly given to prevent miscarriage, to encourage growth in a small-for-dates baby OR to resolve early pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and fatigue.
If your nausea is mild, small dietary adjustments may be enough to manage it. If your nausea is more debilitating then acupuncture can change your digestive system to benefit both you and your baby.
Research shows acupuncture reduces nausea and benefits the mother from the first treatment. Acupuncture treatment is carried out twice in the first week then followed up with a weekly session until symptoms resolve.
Specific acupuncture points are used to harmonise the stomach, regulate digestion and rebalance the body. Again, Chinese herbal tonics may be offered in addition to the acupuncture treatment, if necessary.
Acupuncture often combined with Chinese Herbal tonics and massage, at regular intervals, will optimise your fuel production and your sleep to maintain you in the best shape throughout your pregnancy.
Evidence shows acupuncture provides a substantial and positive increase in energy levels for all expectant mothers. Acupuncture nourishes the mother and supports her to safely carry to full term by enhancing the production of blood and promoting optimal function of the internal organs.
If there is an underlying reason for fatigue, such as nausea preventing nourishment or sciatica preventing sleep, acupuncture treats the root cause of the problem and thereby restores energy.
A miscarriage is threatened when there are signs such as vaginal bleeding, aches in the lower back and/or abdominal cramps. This could be a terminal threat to your pregnancy. These signs are a warning that the lining of the uterus is breaking down. If contacted at the earliest sign, your acupuncturist may be able to protect the baby and stop the bleeding.
Acupuncture is carried out twice within a week and then once a week till the pregnancy is safely established. Chinese herbs taken in either capsule or powder form are added to the treatment if necessary, to strengthen the uterus and support the pregnancy.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may need to be continued throughout the entire pregnancy.
Once your placenta is established your digestion improves with a resulting increase in energy. Many women enjoy pregnancy without concerns in the second trimester and do not require acupuncture support.
You may seek acupuncture-massage during the second trimester to maintain energy or address ongoing complaints from the first trimester.
During this trimester your tummy will rapidly expand and change your centre of gravity. Your ligaments will loosen to allow the pelvis to open.
Your baby will fill the abdominal cavity which squashes the surrounding organs. The work of rapidly growing your baby causes a raise in your body temperature. You may experience fatigue, back pain, hip pain, leg heaviness, disturbed sleep, shortness of breath, palpitations, changes in bowel motions, pregnancy reflux or heartburn, restlessness, agitation, skin rashes etc.
Acupuncture will help regulate your body while it makes all the necessary changes to limit the discomfort you feel.
Toward the end of the third trimester acupuncture prepares you for your labor and delivery. Studies show that women who receive regular acupuncture during the third trimester typically have a shorter and less complicated labour.
Turning a breech baby
Acupuncture can relax the muscles in the uterus and abdomen, while regulating the movements of the womb to create the ideal conditions for the baby to turn.
For thousands of years Traditional Chinese medicine has been used for the treatment of breech presentation. It is successful 70 per cent of the time and carries no risk to mother or baby.
Treatment involves combining acupuncture with moxabustion and is ideally carried out between weeks 32 to 36 when there is still room for the baby to turn. Moxabustion techniques are taught to the mother to do at home. Breech or posterior babies may turn from the first session.