As a mother, I am very drawn to learning more about the benefits of acupuncture through all stages of pregnancy and beyond. I have studied advanced prenatal and postnatal acupuncture courses with Debra Betts, Laura Elrich, and Yvonne Farrell. Each have so much to offer when it comes to taking care of women going through this time of extraordinary physical and emotional change.
During pregnancy, it is more important than ever to support and care for your well-being.
Acupuncture is an ideal form of treatment as it provides drug-free relief for many of the health complications that may arise before, during, and after pregnancy. Being drug-free not only avoids unnecessary drug side effects, but also naturally improves the expectant mother's quality of life.
Acupuncture can help with the following prenatal conditions:
• Nausea & vomiting/morning sickness
• Threatened miscarriage
• Hemorrhoids/vulval varicosities/varicose veins
• General muscle aches and pains
• Fatigue and exhaustion
• Anxiety & depression
• Mood swings
• Musculoskeletal conditions
• Urinary tract infections
• Breech and posterior babies
Pre-labour preparation (Cervical ripening)
Weekly pre-labor acupuncture, in the three to four weeks leading up to the due date, helps to prepare the cervix and create optimal conditions for the mother to prepare for a smooth labour and delivery. Acupuncture also helps to reduce stress hormones which may slow labour initiation.
The cervix plays an important role in the entire pregnancy process. Throughout the pregnancy, it protects the development of the fetus. It remains closed and provides support to the growing fetus and the uterus in an expectant mother’s body.
Typically the cervix is 3 cm or more in length and relatively firm. As labour approaches, it must efface (become thinner and softened, sometimes referred to as "ripening") before dilating. Weekly acupuncture treatments can begin 3 to 4 weeks before the expected due date to help the cervix soften, and thereby achieve a more efficient active stage of labour. Studies using acupuncture treatment for "ripening of the cervix" have shown a reduction in the need for medical intervention, including medical induction and caesarean section.
If the baby is overdue, and/or a medical induction is scheduled, acupuncture can provide an effective alternative. It is advised to start daily acupuncture sessions four days prior to the scheduled medical induction, as some women need 2-3 treatments. This will give the treatment a reasonable amount of time to take effect.
Caring for a newborn comes with a new set of challenges for the mother. Acupuncture provides a nourishing treatment that helps build blood, balance hormones, calm nerves, and lift the spirit. It can also help with the following:
• Insufficient lactation
• Wound healing/scar tissue repair
• Postnatal depression
• Urinary incontinence
Honouring and nurturing yourself is one of the most important and often overlooked concepts - and certainly the most important step in caring for others. As the saying goes, "you can't serve from an empty cup".