Acupuncture in Pregnancy
Some of the conditions pregnant women seek Acupuncture for:
- Morning Sickness
- Indigestion and digestive disorders
- Constipation, haemorrhoids
- Tiredness, lethargy, fatigue
- Aches and pains
- High or low blood pressure
- Dizziness and fainting
- Headaches and migraines
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back pain and sciatica
- SPD – symphysis pubis dysfunction
- Mood swings, depression
- Poor appetite, food aversions and cravings, bitter taste
- Rashes, itching
- Restless legs
- Night sweats
- Varicose veins
Because acupuncture is completely natural (i.e. drug-free), it is an ideal treatment for any illness or discomfort suffered by mothers-to-be, whether pregnancy-related or not.
For women with a history of recurrent miscarriage, acupuncture treatments are wonderful at relieving stress and providing emotional support. Research shows that if women who have experienced 3 or more miscarriages ( without a known cause) are provided with weekly emotional support and relaxation advice that they are far more likely to have a viable pregnancy.
By the 34/36 week of pregnancy most babies will have settled into a cephalic (head down) position, which is the best position for natural childbirth. When the baby is head up this is referred to as a breech position.
In Chinese Medicine we treat this condition by burning the herb ‘moxa’ (botanical name artemesia vulgaris) over acupuncture point BL67 on the little toe. This encourages the baby to turn by stimulating him to move whilst at the same time relaxing your uterine muscles.
Moxa treatment should be done once or twice a day for 10 consecutive days. After a initial appointment you will be taught how to apply the moxa, and given a kit to take home . It is recommended to come for a total of 3 clinic appointments within these 10 days where a combined acupuncture and moxa treatment can be done.
Recent research indicates that women who have breech presentations and receive moxibustion are 40% more likely to have a spontaneous reversion (i.e. the baby moves to the head down position) than women who don’t. Another study found that for every seven women who received moxa one caesarean section could be prevented. The evidence is so compelling that moxa is now endorsed in the New Zealand midwifery guidelines as a recommended method of treatment.
These treatments may be able to help prepare your body for labour by aiming to :
- Support the ligaments and sinews as they stretch to widen the pelvis.
- Softening and ripeing the cervix.
- Encouraging baby to descend into the pelvis in the optimal position.
- Boosting your energy reserves.
- Pre-birth treatments start at week 37, and are then carried out weekly until you give birth.
Individual Acupressure guide
During your pre-birth treatments you, (and if possible your birth partner ) will be taught how to use acupressure points which may be able to promote optimum foetal positioning, build your energy reserves, aid relaxation and help prepare your body for labour.
There is a free acupressure booklet you can download from Debra Betts Website https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/download-booklet/
These acupressure points aim to help maintain regular contractions, provide pain relief, encourage relaxation, reduce anxiety and help you feel energised and in control. Many women find it empowering to be able to use acupressure to manage their own labours.
Post dates? Can Acupuncture help?
Many women seek acupuncture when they are overdue as it may be able to help promote spontaneous labour. When women are facing a medical induction they often choose to have several treatment sessions over successive days. These sessions aim to help prepare you emotionally, mentally and physically for the birth, and help to calm you and relieve any anxieties that may be associated with going past your due date.
The postnatal period refers to the six weeks following childbirth. Acupuncture can be very nurturing during this period. It helps to replenish your energy reserves.
Acupuncture treatment at this time may be able to:
- Re-energise and rebuild strength and stamina
- Aid deeper sleep and better relaxation
- Balance hormones as milk comes in
- Relieve “baby blues” and postnatal depression
- Address breastfeeding problems
- Encourage the uterus to contract to pre-pregnancy size
- Minimise after pains
- Ease perineal discomfort and aid repair
- Shrink haemorrhoids/ piles
- Help bleeding complications
- Regulate temperature swings, especially night sweats
- Promote healing of caesarean scars and treat C-section complications
The Chinese Medicine approach is to take things easy during the postnatal period. Labour can be very demanding on your body, and it is a good idea to prioritise rest and recovery for a full six weeks following birth. Expecting yourself to return to normal too soon can be detrimental to your future health and wellbeing. By looking after yourself postnatally you give yourself the space to fully bond and enjoy the time with your new baby.
If you think you have postnatal depression it is very important to contact your midwife or General Practitioner. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will speed your recovery.
Indications of postnatal depression include:
- Lack of appetite
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
- Suicidal thoughts or urges
- Violent or aggressive feelings towards your baby
Some babies take well to the breast and some don’t. New mothers can easily become demoralised if breastfeeding doesn’t come easily. That’s why, if you’re having difficulties, it’s important not to try and cope alone but to seek help as soon as possible.
Acupuncture may be able to help with emotional issues such as guilt, sadness, anxiety and exhaustion, all of which can affect your ability to breastfeed. In conjunction with other support and advice, acupuncture treatments also aim to help with used to breastfeeding complications such as mastitis , blocked ducts, breast pain, and lack or overproduction of milk.