In our clinic, not only do our fertility patients struggle with getting pregnant, but staying pregnant as well. A positive pregnancy test is just one part of the baby marathon in our clinic as there is still plenty of progress to be made. Next step: staying pregnant, and healthy for the next 9 months.
Acupuncture is commonly used to relieve discomfort that can often be regarded as a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy. Prenatal acupuncture offers safe, effective, and gentle care addressing the various conditions that arise during pregnancy, labor & delivery, as well as postpartum. It helps to relieve common pregnancy complaints including pregnancy-related fatigue, headaches, back neck or body pains, heartburn, constipation, nausea or vomiting, dermatitis, swelling or puffiness in face or limbs, cramps and more. In addition, research has shown acupuncture can be an effective tool to treat more complex conditions such as stopping bleeding and preventing miscarriage. It can even stimulate development in ‘small-for-dates’ babies, support an incompetent cervix and reduce maternal blood pressure to prevent eclampsia and more.
Maybe this is your first pregnancy. Or maybe you are busy working, looking after a home and already have other children. Either way you may find the extra effort of growing another human being is draining. Having regular acupuncture sessions will boost your energy and make you feel lighter, brighter, calmer and more focused.
Caring for yourself by using acupuncture during pregnancy is an excellent way to stay physically and emotionally comfortable and help prepare your body for birth. It has been found to be a safe and effective alternative to medication for treating a number of conditions that may arise. Please do not neglect ourself at this most important time. We can help!
During the first trimester, acupuncture is used to help prevent miscarriage and provide a stabilizing effect on the pregnancy, and regulate hormones. Acupuncture helps to minimize nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, migraines, bleeding, and spotting. At Health Pointe Jacksonville we consider ourselves partners in your health, and when it comes to our fertility patients we are 100% along for the ride. Weekly acupuncture treatments for the first twelve weeks are recommended. They lay a healthy foundation for your pregnancy. Treatment is given to help divert your resources to nourishing your baby and to support the rapid growth of the baby, the uterus and lining. Acupuncture stimulates blood flow to the placenta helping it to do its job of protecting and nourishing your growing baby.
Acupuncture helps to optimize your fuel production and your sleep to function optimally throughout your pregnancy. Evidence shows acupuncture provides a substantial and positive increase in energy levels for all expectant mothers. This is achieved by enhancing the production of blood and promoting healthy function of the internal organs. If there is an underlying reason for fatigue, such as nausea preventing nourishment or sciatica preventing sleep, acupuncture treats the root cause of the problem and thereby restores energy.
If your nausea is mild, small dietary adjustments may be enough to manage it. If your nausea is more debilitating, then acupuncture can treat your digestive system to benefit both you and your baby and if you are unfortunate enough to be regularly vomiting then you may be compromising nourishment of yourself, as well as your baby – in this case acupuncture can be vital to you both.
Research shows acupuncture reduces nausea and benefits the mother from the first treatment. Acupuncture treatment is usually carried out tone to two times per week until symptoms resolve. Specific acupuncture points are used to harmonize and regulate digestion and rebalance the body. Chinese herbs may be offered in addition to the acupuncture treatment, if necessary.
A miscarriage could be imminent if there are signs such as vaginal bleeding, aches in the lower back and/or abdominal cramps. This could be a terminal threat to your pregnancy. These signs are a warning that the lining of the uterus is breaking down. It is advisable to seek medical help immediately. Acupuncture can be used as an adjunct therapy at this stage to help protect the baby and stop the bleeding.
Acupuncture is carried out twice within a week and then once a week till the pregnancy is safely established. Chinese herbs are added to the treatment if necessary, to strengthen the uterus and support the pregnancy. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may need to be continued throughout the entire pregnancy. Read more here
Once your placenta is established, your digestion improves with a resulting increase in energy. You have officially entered the Prenatal Honeymoon phase! Many women enjoy pregnancy without concerns in the second trimester and do not require regular acupuncture support. You may however prefer to continue regular acupuncture during the second trimester to maintain energy or address ongoing complaints from the first trimester.
During this trimester your tummy will rapidly expand and change your center of gravity. Your ligaments will loosen to allow the pelvis to open. Your baby will fill the abdominal cavity, putting pressure on the surrounding organs. The work of rapidly growing your baby causes a rise in your body temperature. You may experience fatigue, back pain, hip/sciatic pain, leg heaviness, disturbed sleep, shortness of breath, palpitations, changes in bowel motions, pregnancy reflux or heartburn, restlessness, agitation, skin rashes etc. Acupuncture will help regulate your body and limit the discomfort you feel while your body adjusts to all of the necessary changes.
Towards the end of the third trimester, acupuncture prepares you for your labor and delivery. Studies show that women who receive regular acupuncture during the third trimester typically have a shorter, less complicated labor. 1-2 weekly prebirth treatments are recommended from 36 weeks on.
Turning a breech baby
Babies lying bottom first or feet first in the uterus instead of in the usual head-down position are called breech babies. Breech is common in early pregnancy, and by 34-37 weeks of pregnancy, most babies turn naturally into the head-down position. Most babies turn themselves before the onset of labor; some do not. A baby coming bottom first can have more difficulty being born, which causes trauma to the mother. Acupuncture can relax the muscles in the uterus and abdomen, while regulating the movements of the womb to create the ideal conditions for the baby to turn. Read more here
Preparing for labor
A weekly session of acupuncture at the end of your pregnancy (from 35 weeks) helps reduce advance stage pregnancy discomforts, and aligns focus of your energy on the task to be performed. Midwives tell us that women who have had acupuncture pre-birth treatments have more efficient contractions, their cervix softens and opens smoothly and the pelvic ligaments do not strain. Labor room statistics show acupuncture reduces the length of time women spend in labor, especially women having their first delivery and there is a noticeable reduction in medical intervention, including induction of labor, use of epidural anesthesia and caesarean delivery.
Inducing labor using acupuncture
Induction is a medical procedure that an obstetrician or midwife may recommend to start labor. Depending on your body, they may recommend specific medications or procedures to help soften and dilate the cervix and promote steady contractions. Your provider may recommend a medical induction if you are nearing 42 weeks gestation, if your water has broken but contractions have not begun, and in the case of infection, restricted fetal growth, low amniotic fluid, placental abruption, pre-eclampsia, or gestational diabetes.
More and more folks are learning that acupuncture can help bring about labor naturally. Thus, this type of acupuncture treatment at 40+ weeks pregnant has come to be known as induction acupuncture. During these 2-3 times per week sessions we focus on preparing the body and mind for a positive birth experience. Acupuncture works with your body to help prepare the cervix, remove painful obstructions, optimize fetal position and reduce stress. Acupuncture offers you a quiet moment to connect with your body and leaves you feeling rested and refreshed. During these sessions we can also address any other issues you may be experiencing such as heartburn, back pain, headaches, or constipation. Acupuncture works on cumulative level with each session becoming more powerful. If you start labor preparation acupuncture at 35 weeks and find yourself at 41 weeks still pregnant, there is a greater chance that acupuncture will be effective at starting labor than if you come in for your first session at 41 weeks. Research supports that people who have received regular acupuncture in late pregnancy tend to have shorter active labor stages and tend to deliver closer to their due dates.
After the Birth (Post Partum)
Asian culture preserves a tradition of supporting a mother for one month after delivering a child. In contrast, in American culture, within days of giving birth, you are likely expected to be keeping house and supporting your family. And more than likely within just a few short weeks also returning to a full time job. During this time, acupuncture and herbs can provide some support for your physical and mental recovery. If you cannot have bed rest then some blood tonics can prevent months of fatigue, mood swings, disrupted sleep, colds and fevers. Treatment to improve blood circulation, after the birth, will result in a good quality breast milk supply which can calm, satisfy and nourish your new baby. A well-fed baby will also enable you to rest and recover more effectively.
Acupuncture also offers solutions to common post-natal complaints such as lack of decent sleep, anxiety, insufficient lactation, urination difficulty, abdominal cramps, bleeding, hair loss, constipation, fever, post natal depression, night sweats and mastitis.
Acupuncture for Cesarean birth recovery sessions with specialized postpartum providers can help you optimize healing and find peace as you move into your next chapter of parenthood. Common cesarean scar issues include local numbness or tingling, keloid scars and adhesions that may cause future issues. Typical healing takes place in the first 6 weeks post surgery. Having acupuncture during this time can greatly reduce scar tissue build up of having a C-Section as well as help balance hormones quickly.
During all postpartum acupuncture sessions we will look at the whole body and treat any other issues you may be experiencing such as neck and shoulder tension, hormonal fluctuations, and mood changes. After giving birth to a baby, most of the attention tends to focus on the health of the child. Please don’t ignore your own health during this time though. Being a new parent can create a wired but tired state.
Self-care is essential to a mother to feel supported and capable of undertaking the sometimes overwhelming prospect of motherhood. You need to remember that you will be a better mother when you take time for yourself and advocate for your own healing and recovery. Acupuncture after the birth should be part of each mother’s postpartum plan for continued physical and emotional health and wellbeing.