Acupuncture for Pregnancy, Childbirth and Post Natal Care
Treating women during pregnancy with acupuncture is exceptionally rewarding: I always feel awe at the ability of acupuncture to help the wide range of problems pregnancy can cause, and excited to be present at such a transformative time of someone’s life. As a father of two small boys, I can vouch for the benefits of acupuncture and acupressure both from a professional and personal perspective.
Acupuncture is a system of medicine that has been developed in Asia over the last 2500 years. It observes the subtle movements of the emotions, blood and Qi (or energy) that circulate around the body. When this flow of Qi is disturbed, illness and problems may arise. The aim of acupuncture is to stimulate the body’s own healing responses and restore its natural balance.
Acupuncture is an ideal form of treatment as it offers women drug free relief from a multitude of problems that can arise from childbirth and pregnancy. Its use for improving conditions often regarded as a normal part of pregnancy, for example morning sickness, sciatica and symphysis pubis pain, can not only increase quality of life during pregnancy, but can also prevent them from becoming serious enough to necessitate medical treatment.
I always ask women to imagine that preparing one’s body for pregnancy is a bit like training for a marathon; you need to be in the best position you can be physically and emotionally before you start. If you are trying for a baby and things are taking longer than you expected this may be nature’s way of telling you that things are not quite ready yet. Choosing to have some acupuncture at this time is a wise decision: the treatment will improve your overall health and wellbeing, increase your fertility levels and enhance the prospect of a healthy pregnancy.
During pregnancy there is an abundance of blood, heat and Qi in the body as the foetus develops. A multitude of problems can arise: sometimes due to pre-existing imbalances and/or as a result of the many emotional, structural and internal changes taking place. Fortunately the majority of these problems can be solved or reduced to manageable proportions fairly quickly.
Throughout the first trimester acupuncture can do wonders for reducing nausea and helping recharge your batteries, at what can often be an uncertain and tiring time. As the pregnancy moves into the second and third trimesters different problems can arise: back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hypertension, anxiety and depression, sciatica, and headaches can all improve with acupuncture treatment.
From around week 34 of pregnancy pre-birth acupuncture can begin, initially to help the baby move into an optimal position for birth, this can also include turning breach babies, then subsequent sessions to help the soft tissue around the pelvis and cervix soften in readiness for labour. This type of acupuncture is used routinely in Germany from week 35 as part of the ante natal care package…yet to be available on the NHS!
In my experience acupressure is easier and just as effective during labour. My wife and I found as our first child arrived the needles were more of a hazard during labour than a help! When we had our second child I used acupressure on specific points on her sacrum with great success, she later told me it reduced the pain of contractions by at least 80%, leaving her much more in control of the labour as a whole.
It also helps us men feel as if we really can really do something to make your journey easier!!
After the birth of you child acupuncture can help with possible complications such as mastitis, post natal depression, continual bleeding and most commonly tiredness. Sometimes one or two treatments can help a mother just have a bit of time to regain her equilibrium and prepare for this next phase of her life.
Here are a few case histories to give you a feel of what to expect if you choose to have some acupuncture.
Case History 1: D initially came for acupuncture because she was having repeated early miscarriages. After four months of acupuncture - firstly on a weekly basis then every 2- 3 weeks, she became pregnant. During weeks 5-10 she had weekly treatment and found the acupuncture reduced the nausea for at least 3-5 subsequent days. D had acupuncture every 4 weeks up to week 35, and she felt much better than during her previous pregnancy. From week 35 she had weekly pre birth treatment. She went into labour naturally at 40 weeks and had a girl. She returned for a few post natal treatments to lift her spirits and restore her energy levels.
Case History 2: E presented at week 33 with stabbing pain around the pubis that worsened on walking. She had a history of sciatica and back problems due to a car crash. The sharp pain immediately cleared up and after several more treatments she is finding the sciatica is gradually becoming less sore. She has chosen to continue having acupuncture to prepare herself for labour.
Case History 3: A was overdue by eight days. Sometimes an induction treatment may need to be done several times. However after one treatment she went into labour later that day. Please note that acupuncture will only encourage the body to go into labour if the circumstances are not right for the baby to arrive.
I hope this article has given you an insight into the world of acupuncture and that you would now contemplate having treatment. Just remember acupuncture is relaxing, the needles are absolutely tiny- you probably won’t feel a thing!
Alex Wood LicAc MBAcC MTI graduated from the College of Chinese Medicine in 2001. He practices a combination of five element acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. For more information regarding acupressure for labour or anything else in this article visit: www.swanseaacupuncture.co.uk or call 07812 702 382.