Acupuncture is both safe and effective to encourage a healthy pregnancy and to treat a wide variety of pregnancy related ailments.
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, as a new baby grows inside, the body will go through tremendous changes itself. Acupuncture and herbal medicine will support the transitions to happen smoothly. The balance between yin and yang will be restored if it has become out of balance and there are negative symptoms.
Due to the fact that western medicine doesn’t have successful treatments for many pregnancy related complaints, women are under the impression that pregnant women just have to live with discomfort and that it is normal. Women often lose their sense of control when dealing with pregnancy related ailments. Acupuncture can help alleviate some of the pregnancy discomforts so woman can regain their sense of wellbeing and control.
In early pregnancy, the focus is on maintaining the pregnancy and dealing with common symptoms such as nausea and fatigue.
The pregnancy is well established by the second trimester, more significant complaints will be apparent such as aches and pain, hypertension, gestational diabetes etc.
During the third and final trimester, the focus is on preparing for labour-the process that will finally bring about the meeting of the special little one.
General Early Pregnancy Support
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
– Ben Franklin
Even when not sick or suffering from a specific ailment, it is a very good idea to receive support with Chinese Medicine as it will prevent anything from going wrong-if it can be prevented and it feels great!
The diagnostics in Chinese Medicine are able to detect minor imbalances, and when treated at an early stage will not progress into something more serious.
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History of Miscarriage in Early Pregnancy
If a woman has suffered from a miscarriage before, future pregnancies will more than likely be filled with a certain amount of fear in anticipation of losing another pregnancy. Chinese Medicine can support a woman with herbal medicine and acupuncture through this time by regulating the sexual hormones, relieving tension in the body, bringing blood flow to the pelvic region and relaxing the mind.
Not all vaginal bleeding in pregnancy indicates a problem. In early pregnancy it is common and considered normal to to have bleeding;
- When the embryo implants in the uterus
- When the normal period is expected
- For some women, there is bleeding around the time of each monthly period
Any vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy should be seen as suspicious until seen by a professional.
Nausea and Vomiting
Acupuncture has an excellent track record for treating nausea and vomiting, a qualified practitioner will be able to determine which pattern a woman is suffering from and use points to correct that imbalance as well as use points which are specifically used to lower rebellious qi and strengthen the spleen and stomach. Acupuncture works by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which governs the ‘rest and digest’ state.
Aches and pains common in pregnancy include;
- Excessive gas
- Back pain
- Hip pain
- Symphasis pubis pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Urinary tract infections
- Anxiety and depression
- Vaginal discharge and itching
- Itching and PUPPP
- Pregnancy induced hypertension
- Small for dates babies
The Physiology of Pregnancy in Traditional Chinese Medicine
During pregnancy, the mensturation stops, affecting the vessels directly involved in the process-the Chong and Ren channels. There is an increase in the Yin, there is no longer the monthly loss of blood and there is an increase in fluids such as amniotic fluid and blood. There is an increase in Yang, also due to the menstruation stopping which leads to an accumulation of the Minister Fire. Blood gets transformed into breastmilk, moving from the lower jiao to the upper jiao.
The first 12 weeks often involve problems involving rebellious Qi going up in the Chong vessel because of the fact that the blood turning to milk is moving upwards to the breasts. Problems such as nausea and vomiting and general feelings of heat and pressure of the breasts commonly occur.
The body is a perfect machine, always having a way to maintain balance-homeostasis. The pregnancy is a strain on the Kidneys as it has to use it’s energy to feed and grow a new fetus, but the stopping of the menstruation uses that stored energy to feed the pregnant mother and fetus. As the body is strained in one area, it saves energy in another.
Blood is transformed into essence which nourishes the body.
In a healthy pregnancy, a woman looks glowing and full of blood, she should not look at all pale and blood deficient-especially between 4-7 months.
The Western view has parallels. The secretion of large amounts of estrogen, progesterone and chorionic gonadotropin by the placenta explain why some women are healthier and other’s health worsens. The difference depends on the strength of the Kidney Qi and how the woman takes care of herself while pregnant. Health problems that often improve during pregnancy are asthma and migraines.
Increased pigmentation along the midline of the body and around the nipples are due to the changes that are taking place in the Chong vessel.
As the pregnancy progresses, the increase in body fluids including blood plasma is significant. The is a 30% increase in the volume of the blood (3300ml) and an increase in the red blood cells by about 20%. The hemoglobin decreases in relation to the large increase in blood volume. This is considered normal and natural; a study conducted on 153,602 pregnant woman by three English medical colleges showed that women with low hemoglobin levels were more likely to carry the pregnancy to full term and give birth to healthy babies. Risks of a pre-term baby or one born with a low birth weight increased by 7 times in women who had hemoglobin levels that did not fall during their pregnancy.
A drop in iron blood levels in pregnant women is normal, indicating good expansion in blood volume not anemia.
There is an increase in heat during pregnancy, due to the increase in blood, a certain amount of heat and restlessness is considered normal. This tendency towards heat can become pathogenic, leading to problems involving heat, such as constipation, heartburn, insomnia, hemorrhoids etc.
The health of the parents at the time of conception is what determines the child’s health for the rest of it’s life, this is called pre-heaven Qi. This pre-heaven Qi is limited, it cannot be changed, it governs the growth and development. This energy is stored in the Kidneys of both the parents and the child. This is one reason that preparing the body and ensuring the Kidney Qi is strong in both parents is essential.