Nausea and Morning Sickness
One of the first signs a woman has that she is pregnant are digestive complaints – constipation, bloating, heartburn, nausea. Nausea is often considered a “normal” pregnancy symptom, but it can cause much distress to the pregnant mother! The cause of pregnancy-related nausea is unknown, but a common idea is that many factors may contribute:
- hCG surge
- Rise in estrogen and progesterone
- Acute sense of smell
- Low blood sugar
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in managing these early-pregnancy symptoms, helping to strengthen the digestive system, calm down a sensitive stomach, and direct energy downwards to help relieve nausea and vomiting. Our acupuncturists can also give nutritional counseling to help harmonize the digestive system and keep blood sugar regulated.
Lower Back Pain
As a woman’s uterus grows and hormones are released to relax ligaments in preparation for uterine growth and childbirth, some women can experience lower back pain. The hormone relaxin begins flooding a pregnant woman’s body in the first trimester, so some women may find their back pain exacerbated before their belly has begun to grow. Some women experience an increase in sciatica, or sciatica-like nerve pain, throughout pregnancy. Our goal at East Bay Acupuncture and Natural Medicine is to reduce pain levels, and keep you active for the duration of your pregnancy, providing optimal health for you and your baby. Acupuncture has been shown to be a safe, effective therapy to help reduce pain levels throughout the pregnancy.
As a woman enters her third trimester and moves closer to labor and delivery, she will want to have information on the position of her baby. We recommend asking your midwife or OB beginning at 30 weeks on the position, and beginning at 32 weeks, we can offer acupuncture and moxibustion treatment to help encourage a head down position if your baby is transverse or breech. Moxibustion is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine where the acupuncturist burns a tightly rolled stick of mugwort near an acupuncture point to stimulate it. We use an acupuncture point that helps the uterus to contract very gently, promoting movement of your baby, and gravity will naturally help a baby move head down. Our acupuncturists can also advise a couple on how to use this technique at home, to increase the therapeutic effect. A combination of moxibustion and acupuncture has been found to be very effective at reducing c-sections due to breech presentation.
Labor Preparation & Induction
As a woman approaches the end of her third trimester and labor and delivery is imminent, a cascade of hormones work to synergistically help the baby drop in the pelvis, ripen the cervix, start cervical dilation, and ultimately, start and maintain regular contractions to birth the baby. This is a lot for a woman’s body to do! Research has shown that stress and anxiety can interrupt the normal progression of childbirth, and acupuncture can dramatically reduce stress, improve sleep, and help the body come into balance to let the woman’s body progress naturally into labor and delivery. We recommend weekly treatments starting at 30 weeks, ramping up as a woman approaches her due date. At 30 weeks, acupuncture can help with
- Stress reduction
- Breech or transverse presentation
- Back pain
- Gently beginning to soften the cervix
Beginning at 38 weeks, we can begin labor induction, where 2+ weekly treatments are recommended, as the cumulative effect of the acupuncture can build and support a woman’s intrinsic ability in childbirth. At 38 weeks, acupuncture is more focused on labor, including
- Encouraging the baby to drop into the pelvis
- Cervical ripening
- Cervical effacement
- Cervical dilation
- Uterine contractions
However a woman gives birth, she can benefit from the stress reducing and calming effects of acupuncture treatments into the postpartum period.
Whether a woman had a natural childbirth, c-section or induction, her body worked hard during the process. Her blood and energy needs to be replenished, all while caring for a newborn! Rest and nutrition are of utmost importance for a postpartum woman. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help nourish and support the natural processes that are happening in the postpartum period, and provide a calm, restful state of mind to transition into the many changes going on. If she has experienced any trauma during childbirth, our acupuncturists can work with her on a plan to help heal and recover quickly. Some postpartum issues we have effectively treated in the clinic are
- Pelvic pain
- Prolonged bleeding
- Urinary retention
- Vaginal and perineal soreness
- Anxiety/ depression
- Constipation and hemorrhoids
- Postpartum sciatica
In Chinese Medicine, the postpartum period continues for 40 days, as a time for women to rest and recover as much as possible. Western medicine gives us a similar guideline – 6 weeks, although most of us return to our busy schedules as soon as we can. Our clinic can provide some respite and therapeutic treatments to help nourish and support a woman in this time, and help her recover from any trauma.
Acupuncture and herbs are a great resource for women looking for breastfeeding support. Some breastfeeding issues that can be managed with acupuncture and herbs are
- Insufficient lactation
- Overabundant supply
- Nodules and plugged ducts
- Candida infection
Acupuncture can increase blood flow to the breasts, resulting in easier flowing milk and regulating supply. Chinese herbs in combination with acupuncture can target infection and inflammation and help ease many problems that arise in breastfeeding.
Mastitis , especially recurrent mastitis, can be a difficult issue to manage while getting the hang of breastfeeding and recovering from birth. Acupuncture and herbs, along with other supplements and techniques, can help prevent plugged ducts from forming, and can be used in early stages of mastitis to reduce inflammation, infection, pain and help a mother and baby return to their breastfeeding relationship.
Acupuncture and herbs are often used by pregnant women who have other medical conditions to help manage symptoms and find relief safely and effectively.
- Allergies and common colds – Many pregnant women find relief from allergy and cold symptoms from acupuncture treatments
- Gestational diabetes – Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help regulate the complex hormones and biochemistry that happen in the body with gestational diabetes. Along with a proper diet, blood-glucose monitoring, and your primary care team, our acupuncturists can help you manage this condition and help your body regain its balance after birth.
- Polyhydramnios – Excess fluid in the amniotic sac can cause discomfort and if unchecked, some risk to fetus and mother. Acupuncture and herbs can help gently drain unwanted fluid from the pelvis, legs and ankles of women experiencing this complication, and effectively reduce fluid build-up.
- Pre-eclampsia – Blood pressure, along with other information collected by your primary care practitioner, is often monitored throughout pregnancy to see if you will develop pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia can increase risks to both mother and fetus, and it is essential to work with your practitioners to manage it. Acupuncture and herbs can help balance fluids in the body to regulate blood pressure.