Pregnancy and childbirth may be natural and beautiful, but they can also be challenging. Early miscarriages, joint pain, morning sickness, and labor difficulties are just a few of the complications that many women face. While Western medicine traditionally relies on medications and surgical interventions, an increasing body of research shows that the ancient art of acupuncture can be a valuable resource, whether used alone or in tandem with Western methodologies. Here is a look at how acupuncture can support a healthy pregnancy.
Lessening Early Miscarriage Risks
Pregnancy is hard on the body, so it only makes sense to promote optimum health and wellness, especially during the critical first 12 weeks, when most miscarriages occur. Acupuncture helps to regulate all of the body’s systems that are vital to pregnancy, including the thyroid, ovaries, and endometrial lining. It also helps to reduce stress and calm the body and mind.
In addition, acupuncturists use a holistic approach to wellness. You will receive nutritional counseling, recommendations for healthy lifestyle changes, and a personalized exercise plan. You might also be prescribed specific Chinese herbs that are known to help support pregnancy.
Reducing Nausea and Pain
Although it is referred to as “morning sickness,” it is not unusual for pregnancy-related nausea to last all day. Some women have only transient episodes of discomfort, while others experience frequent bouts of vomiting that can limit their ability to go about their daily routine. Western supplements such as ginger and B vitamins can help, but the three-pronged Eastern approach can vastly improve their efficacy. Acupuncture, acupressure, and nutritional therapy, when taken together, can make a real difference in reducing or eliminating nausea and vomiting.
Back pain and joint pain are extremely common, especially in later pregnancy. These pains are generally due to a combination of healthy weight gain, a shifting center of gravity, and pregnancy hormones that loosen the ligaments. Acupuncture, massage, lifestyle changes, and posture-refining exercises can dramatically reduce pain.
Western doctors prefer not to wait too long for babies to come. If you are more than a few days past your due date, your doctor might recommend either labor induction via synthetic oxytocin or a Caesarean section (C-section). However, both procedures carry some risks and can be heartbreaking for women who were counting on natural childbirth.
If you and your baby are healthy, acupuncture can often be used to encourage the body to start the labor process on its own. This is done by targeting specific points that stimulate the release of natural oxytocin. While it is not right for everyone, acupuncture alone or in tandem with Western methods can be the best solution for many women. Talk to both your doctor and your acupuncturist to see if this might work for you.
Turning Breech Babies
A baby is considered “breech” if it is not in the head-first position at time for delivery. There is a complicated manual method of turning breech babies known as ECV, or external cephalic version. It does not always work, though, and babies that cannot be turned are usually delivered by C-section. Acupuncture offers another possibility.
Traditional Chinese medicine has used a technique known as acupuncture-moxibustion to turn breech babies for centuries. Two cigar-shaped sticks of compressed moxa, or mugwort, are lit and held over specific acupuncture points—close enough to feel the heat, but far enough away to avoid burns.
Of course, burning compressed herbs creates a lot of odiferous smoke, which many clinics prefer to avoid. Fortunately, there is now a charcoal preparation of moxa that offers the same outcomes without the smoke.
Every pregnancy is different, even for women who have given birth before. No single remedy is right for every woman in every situation. However, a significant body of research shows that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can be valuable tools for supporting a healthy pregnancy. Ask your doctor and acupuncturist if these techniques are right for you.
Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-428-1215 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.