Many women find their way to acupuncture through a desire to get pregnant. As we all likely know, acupuncture is extremely beneficial for promoting fertility by regulating hormones, increasing blood flow to the uterus, and overall stress reduction. However, women aren’t always aware of the benefits of continuing acupuncture treatments throughout the pregnancy and even afterwards into their postpartum period.
Since a large part of being an acupuncturist is education, it’s important to ensure our patients have the information they need to make informed decisions about their health care. There are a lot of questions and myths about acupuncture during pregnancy, which we will endevour to answer here.
The foremost question asking if acupuncture is safe during pregnancy can be answered with a resounding: yes! Acupuncture is completely safe during pregnancy, provided it is administered by a licensed professional. There should be no fear of incurring complications as a result of acupuncture, as all licensed acupuncturists are fully trained to treat pregnant women in order to support and maintain their pregnancy. In a 2014 systematic review, it was found that out of 105 separate studies, “the incidence of adverse events evaluated as certainly, probably or possibly causally related to acupuncture was 1.3%”.
Next, women want to know what acupuncture can help with. The answer to this is: what ails you? Because acupuncture can help with pretty much all pregnancy symptoms. In the first trimester, the symptoms we hear about most are nausea and vomiting, as well as bloating, constipation, and fatigue. Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating these symptoms and helping women get past this discomfort and into the second trimester. There are also less common symptoms in the first trimester such as spotting and shortness of breath which women can experience. These are all normal parts of the pregnancy process, but they can be hard for a woman to manage when she has to go to work and take care of her family. Acupuncture would be extremely beneficial as it can reduce and may actually get rid of these symptoms.
The second trimester is when many women stop feeling the nausea and fatigue, but now begin to experience lower back pain, heartburn, digestive disruptions, and continued constipation. This trimester is also when women might begin to experience calf cramping and hemorrhoids as a result of ongoing constipation. Fortunately, acupuncture is excellent at treating all of these symptoms through the careful selection of points that help to not only soothe and aid the mother, but the gestating fetus as well!
In the third trimester, when bellies are getting bigger by the day, some women will experience further low back pain, as well as swelling in the legs and ankles. Sleep can be an issue due to urinary frequency at night, too. Luckily, acupuncture is good for all of these complaints.
A serious complication women may face later on in pregnancy is a breech baby. This is when the baby is not in the head-down position to prepare for birth – they can be either in a complete, incomplete, or frank breech position. Most women with breech babies are pushed to schedule a cesarean due to possible injury to the baby if a vaginal birth is attempted. Cesareans are a major surgery and come with the risk of infection and complications, as well as a longer recovery time, so most women opt to try for a vaginal birth if possible. Acupuncture can help turn the baby through a combination of needle placement and the use of moxa, a Chinese herb, that is burned at certain points along the meridians. Typically, treatment for a breech baby is best attempted around week 35 or 36. There have been many successful cases where a mother was able to avoid a c-section through the simple use of consistent acupuncture.
Lastly, there is an ancient Chinese acupuncture treatment that has been used for centuries to ensure a beautiful, healthy baby. The treatment entails the stimulation of one single acupuncture point called Zhubin, which is located on the lower calf. Zhubin means literally “where the visitor resides” and is said to increase the health of the baby and its resistance to disease, tonify the mother’s Qi, and to generally ensure the health and well being of both mother and child.
When seeking support during the pregnancy process, it’s important to understand how acupuncture can help. As listed here, there are many ways in which acupuncture can serve to help both the mother and child throughout this incredible nine month journey. Feel free to contact us directly with any further questions. We look forward to seeing you soon!