Thursday, September 1, 2011

Acupuncture for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

When it comes to the numerous discomforts that often accompany pregnancy, acupuncture is a supreme multitasker. From conception to everyday life with baby, the ancient Chinese system of healing can treat many of the most common aches and pains.

The first step to integrating acupuncture into your pregnancy is to find a licensed acupuncturist with extensive experience working with pregnant women. A qualified acupuncturist will be able to distinguish common pregnancy-related ailments from those that require conventional medical care. Acupuncture treatments are usually painless — the needles are extremely thin — and will not affect the baby unless the treatment is geared to specifically stimulate labor.

First trimester
During the first three months of pregnancy, acupuncture can provide relief from fatigue and migraines, as well as the pervasive nausea of morning sickness. A study published in the journal Birth found that women who were less than 14 weeks pregnant had shorter and less frequent bouts of nausea when they received acupuncture. The best news was that the treatment brought about immediate results.

Second trimester
As the pregnancy progresses, new physical challenges often arise. Weekly acupuncture treatments — an acupuncturist will usually assess the patient on an individual basis to come up with a treatment plan that will be most efficient — can help with heartburn, hemorrhoids, elevated blood pressure, edema, even excessive weight gain. It is during this period that an acupuncturist should be especially aware of symptoms that may require additional medical attention.

Third trimester
In months four through six, many pregnant women suffer from the strain of the growing baby. Treatment during this period can help sciatica, lower back pain, and pubic and joint pain. And, once the pain has been addressed, an acupuncturist can also spend time assisting the positioning of the baby. Acupuncture treatments received between weeks 32 to 36 can help the baby move into a head-first position. An acupuncturist will often use moxabustion —  burning of the herb mugwart next to an acupuncture point — to help a baby shift out of the breech position and into a more birth-friendly stance.

During labor, acupuncture can be used to reduce pain and/or to stimulate contractions when necessary. If needles are too difficult to integrate into the already overwhelming process of birth, acupressure can be used instead.

After birth, consistent acupuncture treatments can help bring the reproductive system back into balance while alleviating depression and treating back and perineal pain. For first-time mothers, acupuncture is also an excellent method of managing the stress and anxiety that often accompany the first weeks at home with your bundle of joy.

This post was written by Marisa Belger for

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