Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Acupuncture & Pregnancy

Acupuncture & Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time, but it also comes with a lot of changes that can be uncomfortable. At a time when it is not advised to take most medications, women often seek alternative therapies to reduce the discomforts that come along with pregnancy. 

In the first trimester acupuncture can help to reduce morning sickness, headaches, fatigue, and even the mood swings that come from the hormonal changes.  How does this work? Acupuncture works with the energy, or qi, that runs through the body and during pregnancy that energy flows in ways that the body is not used to.  Acupuncture will help to re-balance the body and help it adjust to the new normal.  It is not only beneficial to the mother but also to the baby.  Acupuncture will help to send more blood, which means more oxygen and nutrients, to the uterus and developing fetus.  This can help reduce the risk of miscarriage and increase the heath of the baby.

The second trimester is generally known as the easiest of the three, with only minor aches and pains from the growing fetus and uterus.  Everything from the ribs to the pelvis has to shift to make room for the little one, causing the mother to experience many sensations.  The increase in weight gain can also cause discomforts.  Acupuncture can help ease these feelings and continue to support the baby. Between trimesters it is common to needle acupuncture point kidney 9, building guest, with a gold needle.  This point is often referred to as the happy baby point.  It is thought to ensure a happy, healthy baby.  It is known to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.  There are also claims that stimulating this point will decrease the transmission of toxins from mother to baby and increase the baby's resistance to disease in the future.      

The third trimester comes with the most changes.  As the baby grows the mothers body must change significantly to make room.  Heartburn, edema, and back pain are some of the most common complaints.  all of which can be eased by treatments. It can also help with the emotional changes.  This is a time when women start to think about labor and how life will change once the baby arrives.  These thoughts can cause some upset for new moms.  Acupuncture can help identify the upsets and help the mom work through them.  

There are also benefits for labor, delivery, and postpartum.  Towards the end of pregnancy a women may increase the frequency of treatments to prepare her body for labor.  It is thought to decrease labor time and the number of interventions.  After delivery it can help the mother to heal faster and with breastfeeding issues such as milk supply.  It is also a huge help in preventing and decreasing postpartum depression.  Babies who are born to mothers who received acupuncture are thought to have less illnesses and healthier skin because they are not exposed to the mothers toxins throughout pregnancy.

Acupuncture can also be used to turn a breech baby and to induce labor.  This is a common reason women seek acupuncture towards the end of pregnancy.  Although there are practitioners who do this regularly it is my belief that you must be very careful when attempting this.  I believe that in some cases a baby is breech for a reason.  They may have the cord wrapped around their neck or the cord could be to short and turning them could decrease their oxygen supply.  I also believe that acupuncture is a self regulating medicine and if there is something wrong the baby will most likely stay where they are.  Similarly,  babies are sometime a little late because they are not ready to be born yet.  As long as the baby is not under stress there is no reason to induce labor. In any case it is important that the mom has been receiving acupuncture throughout her pregnancy if this is going to be performed. 

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