Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Here’s an article by community acupuncturist, Alex Rossan, formerly of Grassroots Acupuncture Project in Santa Cruz, Ca. about the uses of acupuncture during pregnancy.

Are you pregnant?
As you may or may not know, acupuncture can be a super effective treatment for many of the “aches and pains” associated with pregnancy, as well as very safely and successfully treat other pregnancy related conditions that pop up as your body plays host to the growing baby inside and experiences profound changes. Sometimes these physical and emotional changes are uncomfortable, and the tools that used to be in your toolbox of self-care (certain types of exercise, over the counter medicines, and even some prescription drugs) are now unavailable as options. This is where acupuncture and even carefully prescribed herbs can help women to experience a joyful and pleasant pregnancy. Chinese Medicine can serve as a viable, safe, and effective pre-natal healthcare adjunct to the care you are already receiving from your OB or Midwife.
So, there is the frequently asked question of “when do I come in and for what?” Here is a brief laundry list of all the things acupuncture can help pregnant women with: Nausea and vomiting, heartburn, constipation (or other digestive complaints) varicose veins, edema, urinary tract infections, musculoskeletal issues (sciatica, carpal tunnel), fatigue, anemia, insomnia, anxiety, depression, sinusitis, colds and flu, pregnancy induced hypertension, and breech presentation.
Some of these, depending of course on the severity of the symptom, can be easily remedied by acupuncture and sometimes herbal medicine. In case of pregnancy induced hypertension and breech presentation, acupuncture is most effective when treatment is started shortly after the diagnosis has been made. For example, breech babies are usually diagnosed between weeks 32 and 34, and are more likely to turn before week 34. In cases of pregnancy induced hypertension, acupuncture can be most successful when treatment is started early – the optimal time to treat is when blood pressure reading begins to be of concern.
Acupuncture can also be used as a routine pre-birth treatment starting at week 37 or 38. Chinese medicine historically holds that the time before a woman is to give birth is an optimal time to balance her hormones and strengthen her organ systems. Studies have shown that specific pre-birth treatments can actually increase the likelihood of a delivering by the due date, shorten time spent in labor, ensure a smoother labor (less stop and go) and reduce medical interventions such as epidurals and caesareans. The points chosen will actually help the cervix soften and dilate, ready the uterus for the labor, and relax and soften surrounding ligaments in the pelvis. Even if a woman does go past her due date, these pre-birth treatments will make her respond more readily to induction – either through acupuncture or medicine.
What about acupuncture for labor inductions? There are several medical reasons why labor needs to be induced, including post-term babies, premature membrane rupturing, and babies getting too large in the case of diabetic mothers. Acupuncture for labor induction can be very effective, and treatments are recommended daily to maintain momentum. During the treatment, many women report contractions and increased movement of their baby. How many treatments you will need is dependent on how quickly you respond to treatment, but usually a labor will commence after 1 to 3 treatments.

All in all, working with an acupuncturist along side your midwife or OB can ensure a healthier and smoother pregnancy.

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