How Acupuncture Assists During Pregnancy
Pregnancy. A life-affirming part of the cycle of a woman’s life, and, for some, one of the most phenomenal, occurrences during one’s life. For the physical body, however, pregnancy can mean so much more – a plethora of emotions – anxiety, stress, weakened self-esteem, postpartum depression; short-temperedness as well as the physical trials and tribulations following and leading up to the birth – fatigue, muscle pains, bloating, incontinence, nose bleeds, swelling/water retention, lower back pain, headaches, nausea, circulation issues, constipation, lightheadedness, preterm labour, breech presentation, and more. While a birth is a thing to celebrate, there are a slew of aches and pains that go right along with it! Although these changes may seem unavoidable and inescapable, there are as many ways that acupuncture can assist in alleviating symptoms associated with pregnancy and childbirth as there are symptoms themselves.
In order to understand the potential that acupuncture has in treating symptoms associated with pregnancy and childbirth, it’s necessary to understand what is normal and abnormal in a pregnancy.
It’s Not Just Emotions!
In the first trimester, a pregnant woman is likely to experience and undergo numerous emotional and physiological strains, many of which put stress on their bodies as well as their mental and spiritual well-being. Acupuncture has so much to do with balance (the flow of qi, which balances the yin and yang), and the minute a baby is introduced into the picture in the form of a pregnancy, the balance is immediately off-kilter, the shape of the body itself changes, thus creating a physical imbalance, which can, in turn, produce an imbalance of emotions and unfamiliar feelings, which become more familiar because of the frequency in which they are experienced. In order to grasp the emotional imbalances which can occur, however, it is imperative to take hold of some of the physiological imbalances.
In the early stages of pregnancy (the first few weeks), it’s healthy to experience varying degrees of bleeding – none, spotting, or light bleeding – up to the end of the first trimester. “Spotting, or light bleeding in early pregnancy that’s not heavy like your menstrual period, occurs for nearly one-third of all moms-to-be and often poses no threat to mom or baby.” parents.com
More uncommonly, signs which are reminiscent of bleeding experienced during menstruation are unhealthy and can increase the likelihood of miscarriage.
If you have a history of infertility or miscarriage, weekly acupuncture treatments are recommended throughout the first trimester, to help reduce the risk of miscarriage and relax the nerves. If such symptoms occur, the main purpose of acupuncture as a preventive therapy, is to nourish the blood through gentle needling techniques which strengthen the kidneys (for proper elimination of toxins), and which tonify qi, with the overall purpose of preventing miscarriage, states acupuncture.com.
While nausea combined with vomiting naturally occurs during a healthy pregnancy as early as the third week, if symptoms persist or escalate after the first 12 weeks, and cause dehydration, acupuncture treatments involving strengthening of the flow of qi through the digestive system may be considered. www.acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz
Not unusually, acupuncture treatments which are applicable to assuage one pregnancy-related ailment, for instance, nausea, can often be employed to solve other pregnancy-related ailments, such as improved blood flow and circulation. By applying pressure to various acupoints on a pregnant patient’s body, a trained acupuncturist is able to treat nausea (usually caused by morning sickness) and blood flow problems.
That’s the Qi!
“Acupuncture allows your body…to ‘move’ in the right direction. Qi and blood need to flow properly within the body and if there is a blockage, then the body becomes less efficient,” explains Jennifer Redding, registered acupuncturist and owner, AcuFx Health and Wellness Clinic. “Our treatments have a calming and restorative effect that can increase a sense of well- being.”
During pregnancy, morning sickness and nausea are misdirected qi (energy) flowing incongruously through your body, in an upward direction, instead of in a continuous motion and out. Restorative acupuncture techniques involving the acupressure point, Pericardium six, associated with the crease on the inner left wrist, are used to redirect the flow of qi properly. By applying pressure between the two tendons in this area, an acupuncturist is able to connect “to the inner lining of your stomach,” effectually “calming your mind” towards quelling feelings of nausea and nervous anxiety, says Rebecca Mar Young in the Essential Baby article, ‘Relieve morning sickness with acupressure.’
Qi and blood need to flow properly within the body and if there is a blockage, then the body becomes less efficient
To further improve the stomach qi, massaging the conception vessel, along the mid-line of the body, is another acupressure treatment method used to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, incontinence, and bloating experienced during pregnancy.
The strain of a baby, nestled in the womb of the body, can be immensely discomforting to some. The additional pressure of a growing embryo applies a significant amount of pressure on the uterus, which can easily cause lower back pain. According to
american pregnancy.org, “You are not alone if you experience back pain during your pregnancy. The prevalence varies with reports showing between 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women experiencing back pain.”
These physical stresses can mean physiological changes in your body during pregnancy and after childbirth. At clinics such as Midtown’s AcuFx, acupuncture treatments nourish the body, remove general muscle aches in the lower back as the baby grows, and [alleviate] constipation, stress, and anxiety.
“We can remove general muscle aches in the lower back as the baby grows, constipation, stress and anxiety, and last but not least, we offer induction treatments,” says Redding. While you can’t force a baby out of the womb, a bit of coaxing can help. “Sometimes your baby wants to stay a bit longer in the comfort of your belly.” explains Redding. Through induction treatments, “We use special points on the body to get the baby moving down the birth canal. We can even help your baby turn from breech position.”
Pregnancy is a time of celebration. In anticipation of a new arrival, acupuncture techniques are meant to reduce stress and lessen the physical burden on a woman’s body, therefore, improving the chances of a healthy, happy birth. Be well!