This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 12/15/2012.
By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.
I treat a lot of patients for fertility issues – it is probably one of the most common reasons that women come to my clinic for acupuncture. But while many women think of acupuncture as a means to get pregnant, most don’t know that it can also help them during pregnancy.
Acupuncture can be a very effective – and safe – treatment for morning sickness or the more severe symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. From an acupuncture perspective, the new person developing in the womb causing a disruption in the usual energy flow in some of the deeper meridians in the body, particularly the Chong Mai, or “Sea of Blood.” The Chong Mai flows through both the womb and the Stomach, so when its energy (“Qi”) is not flowing in its normal direction, we see a disruption in the Stomach Qi. Stomach Qi is supposed to flow downwards – when it is out of balance, and flows upwards, we feel queasy or nauseated, or experience vomiting and loss of appetite. By needling acupuncture points that directly rebalance the Chong Mai and settle the Stomach Qi, acupuncture can safely treat symptoms of morning sickness for many women.
Many women report one of the hardest parts of being pregnant being the extreme fatigue. When you are pregnant, your body is working SO HARD to create this new life! And lots of your Qi and Blood and Essence (your deepest level of energy and your genetic make-up) are going to the developing fetus, rather than to you. So being depleted is a natural part of the pregnancy process. Acupuncture can help alleviate some of these symptoms by nourishing your reserves of Qi, Blood, and Essence – this both gives you more energy and also provides your body with more resources for your baby.
Lots of women experience constipation at some point during pregnancy. This can be due to the increase in your body’s progesterone levels, which relax the smooth muscles in the body (including the digestive tract). In later months of pregnancy, constipation can also be caused by the growing uterus putting pressure on the rectum. Acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms of constipation by reordering the way that energy – and therefore food and waste – move through the digestive tract. Because meridians run all along the body, points can be needled on the hands and feet that affect the stomach and intestines…so no needles need to be inserted into the abdomen, making this a safe option for many mothers with constipation.
Especially in the third trimester, many women experience low back pain due to the shift in their center of gravity, added weight, and change in posture. Low Back Pain is the most common reason that people seek out acupuncture treatment in the US, as it is an effective and easy treatment modality. Additionally, acupuncturists can use points on the hands, feet, and ears to treat low back pain, so the back itself does not need to be needled, which makes it a safe treatment option for pregnant moms.
In this day in age, when you are pregnant, you most likely know of all the many things that could go wrong. And as excited as you may be about bringing a child into the world, you are also gearing up for a huge transition! And your body is changing at a rapid rate. And then, to add to all of that, your hormones are doing crazy things that you have never experienced before. Of course many pregnant women have some anxiety! This is actually probably the most common reason many pregnant moms come in to my clinic for treatment. The acupuncture can provide a safe, non-pharmaceutical intervention for pregnancy-related anxiety, allowing patients to move through the wonder of pregnancy without quite as much nervousness or worry.
In addition to these specific conditions, acupuncture can be a great way to maintain wellness and health – for you and your baby – during the pregnancy. Acupuncture works to nourish your body’s energy so that you can be at your best for the growing life inside of you.
How often do I need treatment?
Every pregnancy, just like every woman, is different. But I commonly recommend that pregnant moms come in 2x/month for the first trimester to nourish the womb and help the body carry a viable pregnancy. Assuming the mom is feeling good, I don’t usually see them during the second trimester, unless they want to come in for a monthly tune-up. I recommend resuming regular treatment at Week 30, and coming in weekly from then up until delivery. These later treatments focus on preparing the body for labor, assisting the body to make sure the baby is in correct position, and treating any symptoms that arise in the later weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience for many women – but also oftentimes one of the most challenging times. Acupuncture can help make it as comfortable as can be, so you can enjoy it in all its wonder.