>A friend of mine is a midwife, and she says that nine out of ten times, when she recommends that one of her patients come in for acupuncture, they tell her they “didn’t know it worked for that.” Whether they’re talking about morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, any of the “typical” aches and pains associated with pregnancy, even preventing the blood sugar imbalances that lead to gestational diabetes, acupuncture DOES work!
While many people now know how well acupuncture can help with fertility, it’s important for our patients to be educated on how acupuncture can help to keep them (and their babies) healthy during pregnancy.
Because one of the biggest misconceptions is how acupuncture helps to encourage labor, I will work my way back from there.
Seven reasons to continue your acupuncture treatments throughout your pregnancy:
7. Encourages timely labor and delivery.
One of the biggest challenges I face in my acupuncture practice is when a pregnant woman who is 41+ weeks books an acupuncture session for the first time ever because she is trying to prevent being induced the next day. Of course I help and do what I can, but it’s a tall order. Yes, acupuncture can help to prevent energetic blockages and clear heat or stagnation and dampness that could potentially inhibit labor. But it’s a lot to achieve with just ONE acupuncture treatment. My recommendation is to start coming in by week 35 to slowly start preparing the body for labor. We can encourage the cervix to ripen, the uterus to start preparing for labor, and gradually move blocks that might stall labor.
I developed Eager Mama Tea specifically for pregnant women who are at least 37 weeks pregnant. Rich in calcium and magnesium, Eager Mama helps to strengthen the uterus while also nourishing mama so that she is strong and ready when it’s time to bring baby into the world. This blend also helps to clear heat and remove stagnation that might otherwise delay onset of labor, and gently encourages contraction of the uterus.
6. Turn a Breech Baby
Acupuncture has gotten some great press in the past few years for its success in turning a breech baby. It’s not actually acupuncture itself that turns the baby, but our use of Moxa/ Moxibustion/ Ai Ye or mugwort. Moxa is a Chinese Herbs that is burned on or close to the pinky toe, on the urinary bladder channel which connects up to the uterus. While there are many ideas about why moxa works to turn the baby, there is no questioning that it does, in fact, work. Again, I recommend not waiting until 40 weeks to try to turn the baby; as soon as you discover that your baby is breech, schedule your acupuncture session. Remember, the bigger the baby, the less room he has to turn around. Most acupuncturists will send you home with your own moxa stick that you can use once or twice a day until your baby’s head is down.
5. Keeps blood sugar and hormones in balance.
I have never had a patient who came in for regular weekly appointments throughout her pregnancy who developed gestational diabetes. I have a lot of patients who come in for blood sugar issues who are not pregnant, and it makes sense that acupuncture would help to balance the blood sugar of pregnant women as well. It helps to encourage healthy digestion (which of course helps prevent issues like constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids) and in properly digesting foods, we can encourage healthy assimilation of nutrients, which helps to keep your blood sugar stable. Most acupuncturists will also discuss a diet to help optimize nutrition for you and your baby.
4. Prevent swelling and aches and pains.
Acupuncture is probably most well-known in this country for its effectiveness in treating muscle and joint pain, so it’s no surprise that it helps to treat these symptoms in pregnant women as well. Keeping a pregnant woman’s fluid metabolism functioning healthily will also prevent the swelling and stiffness that is so common in pregnancy.
3. Keeps morning sickness at bay.
I like to treat women even before becoming pregnant to help to clear out some of the constitutional dampness that often contributes to morning sickness. But even if someone comes in the midst of their morning sickness, acupuncture can help. I often recommend the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica. Real ginger “beer” (not corn-syrup laden ginger-ale) and peppermint tea also help.
2. Helps to prevent miscarriage.
In a woman who has recurrent miscarriages, sometimes the one factor that leads to a full-term pregnancy is support with acupuncture treatments and an appropriate herbal formula. Some common factors that often lead to early-term miscarriage are spleen qi deficiency (inability of the uterus to hold the fetus) and excess heat (creating too much movement in the body). By strengthening the spleen or clearing heat, we’re able to support the body to be able to carry a pregnancy to term. The herbal formulas we recommend are specifically developed to “secure the fetus” and help to support a healthy full-term pregnancy.
1. And the number one reason to continue your acupuncture treatments into pregnancy… to help you birth the most healthy baby possible!
Acupuncture CAN help to improve the health and well-being of your baby. Not only does acupuncture stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress and promote healing, but it can clear toxins and heat that might otherwise pass from the mother to her baby. This uncleared toxicity can lead to colic, reflux, eczema and asthma in the baby once it is born. Acupuncture and, specifically, Moxa on the “Happy Baby Point” clears fetal toxins and helps to nourish the baby’s “Jing” or Life-force. It’s a little bit esoteric, but on a most basic level, when mama feels calm and content, baby feels calm and content. And a calm and content baby is a heck of a lot easier than a baby with gas and colic — especially in the middle of the night!