Acupuncture and Pregnancy
Nausea and vomiting
Morning sickness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, although not all women experience it. It can range from mild nausea to severe and frequent vomiting. It usually only lasts in the first trimester, but can extend throughout the pregnancy, and is not necessarily confined to just occurring in the morning.
From a Western standpoint, the exact cause of morning sickness is unclear, however, it is thought to be possibly a result of the effect of the hormones of pregnancy on the digestive system, fluctuations in blood pressure, or a change in carbohydrate metabolism that occurs when pregnant.
Chinese theory indicates that morning sickness is closely related to the digestive health of the mother prior to falling pregnant. It is seen as a relative imbalance of Qi and Blood in the channels of the body that affect the proper movement of food downward, resulting in the energy of the Stomach rebelling upwards, causing reflux or vomiting. Acupuncture treatments aim at re-establishing balance of the Qi and Blood, removing any ‘blockages’ that may cause Qi to move in the wrong direction (ie: upwards), and strengthening the mother’s digestive system to increase nutrition for both her and the baby.
Painful joints and muscles
As a pregnancy progresses, a certain amount of movement is required in the joints of the pregnant mother to make room for a larger baby and to prepare for labour. As the hormone ‘relaxin’ is released by the ovaries and placenta, it relaxes the ligaments of the pelvis and can also loosen up the ligaments of other joints in the body. This creates tension in the tendons and muscles that support the joints as the ligaments loosen up, resulting in muscular pain, typically of the lower and upper back, neck, and hip joints.
Acupuncture and massage geared specifically for pregnancy can be very helpful in alleviating pain in the joints and muscles and can help smooth the transition between trimesters, allowing your pregnant body to adjust more easily to the growing baby.
At the Maitland Wellness Centre, our acupuncturists and massage therapists are trained in pregnancy acupuncture and massage and are happy to discuss any concerns you may have regarding treatment in this very important time.
Labour Preparation and Initiation
The end of pregnancy is often accompanied by a shift in the way the mother feels and symptoms she experiences. Reflux and sleeplessness can get worse, amongst other things, and expectant mothers start to feel ‘over it’. There are many avenues that you can take to help prepare for labour, including pre-natal yoga and meditation. Chinese Medicine suggests that at this stage of pregnancy it is most helpful to stay calm and relaxed and rest where possible. As this is not always possible in our busy lives, acupuncture can be a very helpful way to manage issues many expectant mothers experience such as anxiety and sleeplessness.
Acupuncture and massage may be beneficial in relieving stress and preparing for a smooth transition into labour, as they are thought to stimulate the release of the hormone oxytocin, one of the key hormones of natural labour and delivery.
Treatments will vary according to what week the pregnancy is in, any complications to the pregnancy that may be present, and any concerns you may raise with the practitioner. Typically acupuncture points will be used on the hands, lower legs and lower back (sacrum). Some practitioners may also massage or do cupping on the back and shoulders. You may also have some points in the ears stimulated, according to the theories of auricular acupuncture, that may be beneficial prior to and during the process of labour.