Acupuncture is a fantastic method to boost fertility, optimise your health and prepare for pregnancy. But many women wonder if they should continue with acupuncture treatments once they fall pregnant.
Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy and whether or not you continue to use it is a personal choice. At Maria Acupuncture we leave it entirely up to the individual. From a practitioner point of view, if you’re enjoying your pregnancy and aren’t experiencing any adverse symptoms, then there’s no need to maintain regular appointments. For those that find acupuncture relaxing and calming both mentally and physically, we are more than happy to continue to provide regular treatment.
Although you do not need regular acupuncture treatment during pregnancy, many women do find acupuncture helpful. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for some of the negative ailments common during pregnancy. It’s a safe and gentle way to treat pain and discomfort without exposing the fetus to any potentially toxic substances.
THE FIRST TRIMESTER
Every patient experiences pregnancy differently. Some have no adverse effects, and others suffer mild to severe reactions. One of the wonderful things about acupuncture as a treatment is its flexibility. This makes it an ideal choice for helping women overcome morning sickness and other pregnancy related problems. We can tailor any treatment to match the severity and complexity of your specific symptoms.
Common ailments in the first trimester include nausea, constipation, fatigue, headaches and morning sickness. Your body is experiencing substantial hormonal changes which can leave you feeling sluggish and fuzzy. If this isn’t bad enough, most women are also trying to hide their pregnancy early on and continue with work and family duties as usual.
Fortunately, acupuncture can help. Clinical studies have shown acupuncture to be effective at reducing nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture is particularly effective at giving relief from the debilitating effects of morning sickness. Different needling points can immediately reduce the sensation of nausea. Then we can tape on a tiny magnet to provide ongoing relief.
For those patients suffering from headaches and migraines, acupuncture can help improve the symptoms. It is also helpful when dealing with constipation brought on by pregnancy or iron supplementation.
THE SECOND TRIMESTER
The 2nd trimester is when pregnant women “glow”. Hormones settle down, and there is less general discomfort. This is the phase where pregnancy becomes more enjoyable and most patients don’t require treatment. However, some women continue to experience nausea and headaches or new symptoms such as back pain, haemorrhoids or heartburn.
The 1st trimester was a hormonal strain on the body, the 2nd and 3rd trimesters place physical stress on the body as your baby starts to develop. Lower back pain is a very common ailment. Pregnancy alters your centre of gravity and places strain on your muscles. Natural weight gain and less exercise also exacerbate the problem. You can use acupuncture to release tight muscles and ease pelvic and lower back pain.
Although weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy, doctors no longer recommend you eat for two. Excess weight gain during pregnancy can lead to complications later on, so it’s best avoided. Acupuncture can help to control cravings and slow down weight gain during pregnancy. In conjunction with your GP, we can also use acupuncture to treat high blood pressure, oedema and heartburn. While we don’t use needles for haemorrhoids, we can provide traditional Chinese healing balms to heal and soothe them.
THE THIRD TRIMESTER
The third trimester is when the end is in sight, and things start to get serious. It is a crucial three months where your body goes through physiological changes as it prepares for labour. It is critical to take care of your health and stay within your physical limitations. Avoid heavy lifting to protect your back and wear flat, comfortable shoes to avoid a fall. If you experience back or muscle pain, make an appointment and try to avoid reaching for the pain killers as much as possible.
If your baby is sitting in the breech position, then definitely come in and arrange a moxibustion treatment. This is a proven technique that can be up to 75% effective when performed correctly. It’s also now recognised as an effective method by mainstream medical practitioners. Moxibustion involves burning the Chinese herb Moxa over the acupoint close to the nail on the small toe.
Moxa doesn’t work by miraculously making the baby turn. Instead, it relaxes the uterus and creates more space so the baby can instinctively turn itself into position. Because the technique relies on sufficient space for turning, it is best to commence moxibustion between the 33rd and 36th week. After the 36th week, a baby is fully developed and is growing by the day, so there often isn’t enough room left to turn.
Another acupuncture treatment that is slowly gaining credibility in mainstream medicine is pregnancy induction. This is a natural and more gentle alternative to chemical induction and is less likely to end in medical intervention. Acupuncture induction uses electrostimulation to stimulate contractions. Often it is enough to bring on full labour and avoid any chemical augmentation.
Even if you’ve had the perfect pregnancy and had no need for acupuncture, we always recommend arranging a few appointments during your final month. These last few visits are to help prepare the body for childbirth and give you the best chance of a successful labour. We use acupuncture to relax the pelvic muscles, and close to your due date, we can also help dilate the cervix. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to childbirth, generally we find patients that prepare with acupuncture feel more confident and have easier labours.
Just as acupuncture can support the body during pregnancy, it can also help support you physically and mentally after childbirth. Not only can acupuncture assist with hormonal imbalance and pain relief, but it can also help you deal with fatigue and postnatal depression. If you feel you are struggling emotionally, always consult with your GP. However, we can offer additional support through herbal formulas.
Other than the lack of sleep and charting unknown territory, one of the most stressful experiences for new mothers is a weak milk supply. A hungry baby is hard to settle and wakes frequently which amplifies stress and fatigue. A combination of nourishing herbs and acupuncture can promote increased milk production and improved milk quality.
At Maria Acupuncture we love meeting the new additions to the many families we treat. It is a privilege for us to share the many steps on your journey to becoming a family, and it makes our job extremely rewarding.