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Last Trimester: Tips and Tricks!

Here at Naturna, we heavily focus on all things pregnancy related. So, for those of you in the last stages of your pregnancy, I’d like to share some advice on things that can occur and tips on how to get through them using acupuncture and Eastern medicine.

The first trimester can be exhausting as you’ll encounter fatigue, breast tenderness, and nausea. Once that passes and you’re in the “smooth-sailing” second trimester, where it can be easy to not to think about what lies ahead in the last trimester.

In the third trimester, your baby is growing rapidly while your body uses all its energy to better prepare for labor. The combination of these two things can lead to a myriad of symptoms such as: heartburn or acid reflux, nagging low back pain, swelling of the legs, round ligament pain, and not to mention the complications of a breech baby or the possibility of your body not prepping for labor quickly enough! While all this is happening, you probably can’t move in ways as easily as you used to or become quickly short of breath. Fortunately, this all leads up to the best end of all: a beautiful, bouncing baby! However, these symptoms can feel endless.

Anything digestions related, regular acupuncture treatment with daily licorice tea consumption can help prevent symptoms from getting unbearable. Keep in mind to also really stick to a frequent, small meal diet plan. This’ll help prevent overeating, and indirectly, many digestion problems.

Low back pain is another common symptom that can arise in the late second and early third trimester. Aside from acupuncture, consider wearing a maternity belt. Since your center of gravity has totally shifted, you are likely to find yourself shifting far back to accommodate the new weight in your belly. This belt helps ease the pain of all the new added weight and helps carry the weight so you don’t have to shift your body to uncomfortable and extreme positions.

If your legs begin to swell, many turn to elevation and compression socks, which are not always feasible if you are working or if the temperature outside is hot. Bi-weekly acupuncture treatments are a great alternative to bring down the swelling. However, if you notice some swelling in your face, this could be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia which requires immediate medical attention.

Round ligament pain is also a common symptom felt towards the very end of the third trimester. It is a result of the hormone relaxin which relaxes the ligaments in your pelvis in preparation for birth. The pain is often sharp and shooting and can cause difficulty in getting up, standing, and walking. While the production of relaxin is necessary for labor, those sharp and achy pains can be alleviated with regular acupuncture treatments.

For a baby that just won’t turn, or who is considered “breech”, is when acupuncture truly shines. Through a combination of regular treatments and the use of moxibustion, acupuncturists have been able to turn babies for centuries! Inversion positions such as leaning forward in the yoga position of “down dog” or putting yourself on an incline of at least 45 degrees can also help move the baby along with acupuncture.

Lastly, there is labor induction. This is one of my favorite things to do here at Naturna, because we finally get to needle all those points we haven’t been able to for the past 9 months! At around the 37 week mark, you will want to start softening the cervix. A great supplement to help with softening is primrose oil, which can be taken either orally or suppository. Once you hit around 39 weeks and you’re really feeling ready to go, 2 to 3 or more acupuncture treatments a week is recommended. During these sessions, we begin to stimulate points with the electrostimulator machine to get things moving, or as I like to call, “serving the eviction notice.” 

Ultimately, it’s up to the baby to decide how he or she will enter this world. All we can do is hope they have heard our wishes!

Alison Unterreiner
Acupuncturist, MSTOM, L.Ac.

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