Recovery After Child Birth: 3 Ways Acupuncture Can Make It Easier

Recovery After Child Birth: 3 Ways Acupuncture Can Make It Easier

The experience of labor and delivery is different for every woman, but no matter what happens, giving birth takes a significant toll on the body. Post-delivery, all mothers are deeply in need of healing. The first three postnatal months, sometimes called the “4th trimester”, are a period of excitement and joy, but also exhaustion and struggle.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the months after delivery are a time when caring for a new mother is essential. Many Chinese women still follow the ancient practice of confinement, a 40-day period in which a woman stays home with her newborn and is replenished by nutrition, herbs and acupuncture. Family and friends offer assistance, allowing her to rest despite the round-the-clock needs of her infant. Extra support continues for the next few months, giving her body the time to heal while she bonds with her child.

American women, however, are generally expected to “bounce back” with little assistance, regardless of their physical condition or the fact that it’s virtually impossible to get adequate sleep when caring for a newborn. Many women have no choice but to return to work or to full-time care of older children very soon after giving birth, sometimes even one or two weeks after delivery.

Fortunately, TCM can help mothers in the Western world. TCM supports recovery, enhances breastfeeding and reduces depression and anxiety. If a woman is able to see her acupuncturist just once after her baby is born – ideally 3 days to 2 weeks post-delivery– she will reap significant benefits from treatment. Further visits will facilitate faster, more complete recovery.

Many women, however, find getting out of the house with an infant difficult and exhausting. An acupuncturist can provide Chinese Herbs to assist recovery at home. Herbal prescriptions are precisely formulated for individual needs. They have been studied in TCM for millennia, and current research support their effectiveness. In addition, a dietary program based on TCM will ensure proper nutrition during this period.¹

Here are three ways herbs and acupuncture can mitigate the most difficult aspects of the 4th trimester:

  1. Healing the Body

Most mothers spend the first weeks with their newborn in a state of depletion. Their bodies have been through labor, vaginal tears or other injuries, and significant blood loss. C-sections and problematic deliveries are particularly exhausting and can be traumatic. And during the 4th trimester, factors like sleep deprivation, work obligations, strained relationships and emotional distress can seriously undermine the progress of recovery.

Acupuncture and/or herbs are used to enhance a woman’s natural healing process. Post-Partum treatments stimulate the lymphatic system, which clears inflammation so damaged tissue can heal. Treatments also boost the production of blood, which supplies tissue with the materials needed for repair. As tissue is revitalized, physical energy gradually returns.

Herbs promote the onset of sleep and improve quality so the brief hours of slumber between feedings are deeper and more restful. Tissue regrowth occurs primarily during deep sleep. Sleep is crucial for mood stabilization and may be the single most important factor in recovery and successful mother-baby bonding.

Studies shows that acupuncture alleviates postnatal abdominal pain, uterine discharge, and urinary incontinence. Moxibustion (the practice of applying burning mugwort directly or indirectly to the body) can help recontract the uterus, while herbs regulate hormones and bring the body back into balance.²

  1. Treating Post-Partum Depression and Anxiety

The causes of Post-Partum Depression and Anxiety are different for each woman, and they will each present with unique symptoms. Some women experience depression rooted in grief – for example, a woman may feel she had to give up an important part of herself when she became a mother. For other women, anxiety arises from worry – about their child, relationships, work or other stressors. And for some, the experience of childbirth itself has left them feeling physically unequipped for the task of caring for a new baby.

TCM sees PPD as a symptom, rather than a disease unto itself. When strong emotions are not expressed fully, they are held within the body and obstruct the function of the nervous system and other internal processes. Also known as “blockage,” obstruction leads to physical pain and emotional distress. Conversely, physical pain from blockage can create or worsen negative feelings.

Chinese herbs for PPD energize the nervous system and alleviate the individual disharmony of each client. Researchers in China have published findings that show herbs to be effective for PPD.³ 

Promoting overall healing and sleep is critical in the treatment of PPD. When strength and vitality are robust, strong emotions are felt, but do not become entrapped in the body. Therefore, they don’t cause depression, pain and debilitation.

  1. Supporting Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding, the most natural way to feed a baby, is not always easy, even for experienced mothers. A delicate balance of supply and demand must be reached for breastmilk to be plentiful and available to the child.

When a woman has low milk supply, a TCM practitioner will select herbs that invigorate blood production, which nourishes lactation glands to increase output. Difficulties with “let-down,” or the release of milk before feedings, are treated with herbs that increase blood circulation, promoting the movement of all fluids within the body.

When milk is not released properly it remains inside the breast, causing engorgement. This condition is uncomfortable, but if it results in infection, or mastitis, it can be excruciating. Acupuncture is highly successful at treating both conditions because it’s more aggressive than herbs with an immediate effect. Herbs prescribed after acupuncture will further release engorgement and help the body fight infection.

Research in Europe demonstrates that acupuncture may increase the chance of successful breastfeeding by almost 20%³. Breastfeeding has been shown to enhance recovery and reduce the likelihood of PPD. And breastfeeding is undeniably the healthiest choice for a baby, especially in the first year.

At Tara Diaz Wellness, we encourage new mothers to participate actively in choosing a treatment plan that will support them during the post-partum period. We believe meeting the needs of new mothers has a positive effect on the rest of the family, which in turn helps assure that the newest family member has a secure and healthy start in life.

¹ https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/150120/

²http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1779-acupuncture-beats-drugs-for-urinary-incontinence

³https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/5284234/

³https://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/21303190



5 Ways Acupuncture Keeps You Feeling Great During Pregnancy

Many women find pregnancy to be a joyful time, but it does bring challenges. Physical conditions and concerns can at times make pregnancy feel like more of a struggle than a delight.

Mothers-to-be should know that they have options when coping with these concerns. They do not have to accept discomfort or rely solely upon pharmaceuticals for treatment.

Acupuncture, and its sister modalities (herbs, moxibustion, acupressure, etc.), are options that are safe, compatible with western medical treatments, and have almost no unwanted side effects. And treatments are tailored to the individual based on her unique experience and personal choices.

Here are five ways acupuncture can enhance your pregnancy:

  1. It Can Relieve Nausea and Vomiting

Doctors are not yet fully aware of the causes of morning sickness, but current research suggests that it is a reaction to high levels of the pregnancy hormone HcG, which reaches its peak during the first trimester.

Acupuncture calms the nervous system therefore lessening the body’s reaction to HcG. Acupuncture is safer than pharmaceuticals and can be more effective at relieving nausea.

Even severe symptoms can be treated with acupuncture. And your practitioner can teach you some basic acupressure, so you can have immediate relief when needed.1

  1. It Helps Manage Pregnancy Symptoms

There are numerous symptoms associated with pregnancy. Acupuncture can lessen, and in some cases eliminate many of these. Some of the most common are headache, backache and sciatica.

Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve within the pelvis, resulting in pain and tingling that travel from the hip down the side of the leg. Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, which helps relieve pain and nerve symptoms.

Backache arises from the increasing frontal weight load of the growing baby, and from postural misalignment that happens as ligaments soften in preparation to release the baby through the birth canal. Just as it helps sciatic symptoms, TCM can also ease backaches.2

Headaches of all types respond very well to acupuncture. The protocols for headache can be integrated into pregnancy treatment, reducing the need for over-the-counter headache medicine.

  1. It Can Turn A Breech Baby

Moxabustion is particularly helpful in changing a breech presentation. Moxabustion is a practice used in TCM that applies burning mugwort directly or indirectly to the body. Like acupuncture, it improves the energy flow to create internal balance.

Studies have shown that treatment around 33 weeks can help turn a breech baby and decrease the chance of a C-section. It’s more affordable than conventional treatments as well.3

  1. It Can Encourage Labor to Begin

When a woman passes her due date due date, regular treatments can help to soften and dilate (known as “ripening”) the cervix, which in turn can shorten the amount of time between due date and delivery by as much as two days.4 This option may help women avoid drugs for cervical ripening or induction of labor.

  1. It Increases Stamina for Labor, Delivery and Recovery

Acupuncture builds strength by encouraging blood production and energy by clearing blockage. Women who receive regular treatments from 36 weeks often report shorter labor times, less pain, and more satisfaction with the labor experience. There is some evidence that acupressure can reduce pain during labor.

That strength and energy also helps a new mother to heal after delivery, whether she’s had a vaginal birth or a C-section. Continuing with acupuncture and herbs will also support her during the post-partum period.

If you are looking for options that are safe, natural, and patient-focused, acupuncture may be just what you need to help take the pressure off of pregnancy and give you more vitality to prepare and care for your new baby.

1. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/acupuncture-for-the-treatment-of-morning-sickness

2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/192808/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20430289

4.https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/pregnancy-childbirth/research/

5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25911499



Can acupuncture help to relieve Chronic Pelvic Pain?

Yes! For patients under the care of traditional MD, acupuncture is seen as a complementary treatment for pain management. Acupuncture, along with other holistic therapies such as yoga, mindfulness/meditation, and diet, can greatly improve the overall condition from those who suffer from Chronic Pelvic Pain.

What is Chronic Pelvic Pain?

Chronic Pelvic Pain is one of the most common medical problems among women.

According to the International Pelvic Pain Society, Chronic Pelvic Pain is any pelvic pain that lasts longer than six months. Pelvic pain occurs anywhere in the area below the bellybutton and between the hips. Some conditions that increase the risk for Pelvic Pain include endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and possibly suffering physical or sexual abuse. Other pain related conditions include vulvodynia, pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, scarring after abdominal surgery, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

In the case of Chronic Pelvic Pain, often times the problem that originally caused the pain has been eliminated, but the pain persists. From the perspective of Western Medicine, the reason the pain is still there could be because of changes to the muscles, nerves, or other tissues near the pelvis. This means that in the case of Chronic Pelvic Pain, the pain itself becomes the disease. Despite what many women may be told during the frustration of suffering from Chronic Pelvic Pain symptoms long after the original condition has resolved, it is not “all in your head!”

Some common experiences from women suffering from Chronic Pelvic Pain include:

  • Physical symptoms, including pain and insomnia
  • Emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression
  • Behavioral changes such as no longer enjoying activities and avoiding intercourse

Chronic Pelvic Pain can also affect other parts of the body. Pain can lead to increased muscle tension in the pelvic or pelvic floor area, which may affect the bladder and bowels, back and leg nerves, or other areas.

Is acupuncture safe and effective in treating pain?

Yes, acupuncture is proven effective in the treatment of many types of chronic muscular and neuropathic pain. Evidence shows that acupuncture releases opioid peptides, which at least partially explains the ability of acupuncture to relieve pain. In addition, acupuncture may also activate other key parts of the brain that regulate the body, such as the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a range of positive effects on the body systems.

Can an acupuncture session treat multiple conditions at the same time, including stress?

Acupuncture can also help to address the psychological and emotional stress that Chronic Pelvic Pain takes on an individual. Treating acupuncture points at the source of the primary discomfort as well as other parts of the body can improve the overall result of the treatment, often leading a patient to see benefits in what may appear to be unrelated areas. For example, a patient with Chronic Pelvic Pain may also be suffering from at least one of the following: back pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches, or digestive issues. When applied correctly, acupuncture can treat these different issues simultaneously in a single session.

Ready to try acupuncture for pain relief?

Healing from Chronic Pelvic Pain takes time and often times ongoing and multi-disciplinary treatments. In Seeking Acupuncture for Pelvic or Vulvar Pain management, It is important to work with a practitioner who is familiar with and interested in this specific part of the body.

At Tara Diaz Wellness, our goal is to provide the highest quality integrative healthcare to our patients and guide them towards optimal health.





But I’m not stressed

I am constantly seeing patients with a host of symptoms that seem unrelated.  They have cold hands and feet, their hair is falling out, can’t fall asleep at night because they are always thinking about something.  They often complain about digestive disorders and if you are a woman add menstrual discomfort and irritability to the laundry list.  But when I ask about stress, I always hear the same thing.  I’m not stressed.  These patients are always running around, have full schedules, work out, and eat healthy.  And by healthy I mean at least one raw kale salad or smoothie a day.  Let’s talk about how our healthy diets stress out our bodies in another post though shall we?

Even though we don’t feel stressed out due to a particular situation, our bodies get stressed out due to our lifestyles which are more connected and busier than ever before. Our bodies produce chemicals which put us in fight or flight mode. These chemicals cause the body to release sugar into the blood stream for energy. In the past we needed this boost to run away from a tiger. But now days we’re sitting in traffic and doing all our normal stuff which puts us in fight or flight. This is why you tell me you’re not stressed when in fact your body tells a different story.

Here are three ways to reduce your stress hormones:

1)      Find an exercise that promotes the rest and relax hormones. This includes meditation, qi gong, tai chi, and restorative yoga. If you are having trouble sleeping I highly recommend looking to start with a 5-10 minute restorative yoga practice.

2)      Stabilize your blood sugar.  Working with an experienced practitioner or nutritionist is key here. It is so important to keep your blood sugar stable by planning meals and snacks with a good balance of protein and carbohydrates.

3)      Adaptogenic herbs. These herbs enhance our stress response to both cope with anxiety and combat fatigue. I currently like Eleuthro aka Siberian Ginseng and Tulsi aka Holy Basil.

Once we take a step back from the stressors of life, and deal with each thing as it comes up mindfully, you will then realize how much better your body feels.  Of course acupuncture also helps the body get out of flight or fight mode.  It promotes the bodies rest and relax mechanism.  Contact me today for a consultation on how we can work together to promote optimal health through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and acupuncture.



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