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
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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.
5. 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.5 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.