How Acupuncture Helps With Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Bringing another life into the universe is a very powerful event. That being said, pregnancy is also challenging because of all the changes that our bodies experience during the process. Some of the most common side effects of pregnancy are nausea, back pain, and fatigue. Fortunately, acupuncture can help treat these symptoms, as well as ease the delivery process.
Nausea is a common side effect of pregnancy. In fact, approximately 80% of women report feeling morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy. Studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly decrease the occurrence of nausea. In one of the studies, 95% of the participants experienced less morning sickness after they started acupuncture than they did before they had treatment. The most impressive part of that study was that patients had an almost immediate reaction to the acupuncture – their nausea was gone within 1-2 days after their first acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture helps decrease nausea by targeting the Neiguan point, which is just below the wrist. Between acupuncture treatments, patients can wear wristbands (aka “psi bands”) that apply acupressure to the Neiguan point. (These wrist bands are readily available at most pharmacies and online.)
Back Pain and Fatigue
Back pain is another common side effect of pregnancy. Think about it: your body undergoes rapid weight gain, your sense of gravity changes, and you are going through hormonal changes throughout your pregnancy. It’s literally a pain in the tuckus. Sometimes it’s hard to sleep at night because of lower back pain. This can cause fatigue. Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture is even better than physical therapy or pharmaceuticals at addressing back pain and fatigue. This is because acupuncture increases energy and blood flow to targeted areas of the body, which helps reduce pain. Pain reduction + better sleep = less fatigue.
Western medicine would have us believe in “due dates.” When mothers find out they are pregnant, an obstetrician predicts the date that the baby (or babies) will emerge from the womb. This, however, is all guess work. According to acupuncturist Melani Bolyai:
Normal fetal gestation can take anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks. It is normal and healthy for some babies to need a longer time in utero. Western medical practitioners use drugs like oxytocin (Pitocin), or hormones like prostaglandins or relaxin with the goal of inducing labor, however, they are not always successful. Unfortunately, these drugs can be very strong and use of them often leads to additional interventions such as epidurals, and in some cases can lead to episiotomy, vacuum delivery, or C-section . . . Acupuncture works by stimulating the mother’s body to ready itself for labor. Needling will encourage the body to naturally release prostaglandins to soften and ripen the cervix for labor, and oxytocin to trigger contractions. Because the body produces its own hormones, and the process [is] natural, the mother and child will experience a gradual, less-traumatic onset of labor.
Acupuncture should ideally be used throughout pregnancy to help maintain the mother’s health, but it’s never too late to utilize the benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture can both induce labor, as well as shorten the delivery process itself, by helping the mother’s body relax and prepare itself for the physical stress of labor. At the very least, start acupuncture at least one week before your due date to help prepare your body for labor.
If you would like more information about how acupuncture can help you throughout your pregnancy, please give us a call to set up an appointment. We would love to help you.