Chinese medicine, both acupuncture and Classical herbal medicine, can offer relief for many common problems experienced in pregnancy and in the post partum period. These remedies and practices have been time tested over thousands years. Much has been documented in classical books and various other texts. The texts are at the core of my interests and studies. I have a list below of commonly treated ailments at Wild Roots.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture in pregnancy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or other digestive problems
- Spotting or threatened miscarriage
- Aches and pains; headaches, pelvic pain, back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, leg cramps
- Sinusitis, bladder infections, or common colds
- Insomnia, anxiety, depression
- High blood pressure
- Support for Breech or posterior presentations
- Pre-birth acupuncture or 9 month pre birth teas
- Inductions / acupuncture during labor
Pre Birth Acupuncture or Herbal treatments
Pre-birth acupuncture is commonly performed on woman in the final weeks of pregnancy. Generally these treatments will start at 36 weeks and continue weekly until 40-41 weeks gestation. The goal of treatment is to improve blood flow, relax the pelvis and support tissue, to gently begin the process of softening and ripening the cervix (especially for first time mothers), while calming the mind and nourishing the soul as the woman approaches the arrival of her child.
Pre-birth acupuncture treatments can be very helpful for those who are planning to have a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).
The goal of pre-birth acupuncture treatments is to prepare a Women’s body for the onset of labor and delivery, working towards a more efficient and manageable progression, requiring fewer medical interventions and reducing the time in labor.
Research supports the use of pre-birth acupuncture: a 2006 study indicated that there was a 35% overall reduction in inductions (specifically for first time mothers this was 43%), 31% reduction in epidural rates, 32% reduction in emergency C section rates, and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births (Acupuncture for Pre-birth Treatments: An Observational Study of Its Use in Midwifery).
There are also some classically used herbal formulas, which can provide similar support to a pregnant body. These formulas can be used as general tonic in any stage of pregnancy or they can be tailored to certain conditions or concerns.
The Acupuncture approach to INDUCTIONS
Full term is considered anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks; however, most often by 41.3 weeks maternity care professionals will often encourage monitoring for the safety of the baby and the health of the placenta, or even in some cases the pressure to begin the initiation of labor will occur at this time whether or not there is a medical reason.
The western approach to induction will involve a prostaglandin gel to stimulate cervical dilation, or pharmaceutical oxytocin to stimulate the onset of contractions. If the baby is not in an ideal position or is not ready to be born for some reason, but labor is pushed forward regardless, it can make the experience of labor too overwhelming to manage and external help is required for the mother to delivery.
Some babies need a bit more time to “cook” before they are born. Some babies do not descend into the pelvis as quickly as others. The structural shape of the mothers pelvis, position the baby is in, the location of the placenta, the cord, the emotional state of the mother, etc.… all play a role in how and when the baby descends and then initiates labor.
My preferred approach avoids the simulation of uterine contractions at all unless it is absolutely necessary. I use acupuncture and various other classical methods, such as cupping, to optimize baby’s position first.
Treatments are custom designed to: helping to encourage proper positioning of the baby by relaxing the pelvis and encouraging the downward movement of the baby to allow for sufficient pressure to be applied to the cervix to then stimulate dilation and effacement; as well as accommodating potential stress or anxiety that could be holding a woman back. A constitutional assessment will be completed to best support the mother.
With this, acupuncture can provide a gentler approach to “induction”. In fact, acupuncture will rarely override the body in initiating the onset of labor.
As the treatments are designed to encourage not stimulate or push. We want the body’s own innate cascade of internal events to occur before labor begins. Ideally, a woman starts with pre-birth acupuncture at 36–37 weeks, which can help to avoid the need for any further interventions, whether it is acupuncture or western medicine.
Once a woman reaches 41 weeks there is less time and treatments are intensified to bring on a stronger effect in hopes of quickening the process and avoiding other.
Acupuncture is also used in conjunction with other modalities. It can be used alongside the support your midwife or physician is giving you.