Pregnancy should be a happy and positive experience, however it can often be filled with numerous health complaints such as nausea, fatigue and anxiety to name a few. Acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal treatments have a long history of being able to assist with many adverse symptoms during pregnancy in a natural, drug free way.
The first 12 weeks
Weekly Acupuncture treatments are recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy to promote blood flow to the uterus and strengthen and nourish the energy and blood of the mother. The body is experiencing a lot of change at this stage of pregnancy and under great pressure. Acupuncture treatments can be used to support and manage symptoms experienced during pregnancy.
If extra support is required Chinese Herbal medication may also be used. A comprehensive consultation with your practitioner will be conducted to determine whether acupuncture may be appropriate for your particular condition and symptoms.
During this stage it is also important to be aware of the following:
Energy Levels: Do not overwork or push yourself. Take it easy when possible, as this stage is very draining on your system. Avoid being on your feet for extended periods of time, take breaks and keep exercise to a low-moderate intensity. Gentle walking and movement that does not increase your body temperature or heart rate too much is advised. Lower back pain and/or weakness may be a sign that you are overdoing things. Listen to your body, and slow down!
Food and Drinks: AVOID Icy cold food and drinks! They are damaging to your system according to Chinese Medicine. They can weaken the Spleen and Stomach Qi, damage the digestive system and stagnate Qi and Blood flow in the abdomen. This is of particular importance during pregnancy as the Uterus must be warm with a good supply of Qi and Blood to nourish a healthy pregnancy. Drink fluids that are room temperature or warmer. Minimize coffee and avoid alcohol. Choose plain nourishing foods that are easy to digest and avoid those that are rich, greasy or spicy. Avoid raw foods (fish, eggs, meat, soft cheeses). Ensure you have a good protein intake. Small frequent meals may help to reduce nausea.
Body Temperature: HEAT: It is important to avoid overheating through exercise, hot baths or showers and heat packs on your abdominal area. Applying some gentle warmth is fine for abdominal chills or pain. COLD: A warm uterus is required to establish a healthy pregnancy, so it is advisable to avoid icy cold food and drinks, cold baths, swimming and anything else which may cause chills in the abdominal and lower back area.
Abdominal Pain or Bleeding: Slight discomfort and abdominal pain in the early stages of pregnancy is common, however strong sharp, stabbing or bearing down pain is a concern. Small amounts of bleeding or spotting may occur in early pregnancy, however if it becomes heavier this is an issue. Contact your Medical GP or Chinese Medicine Practitioner if you are concerned.
Others: Avoid contact with strong chemicals, toxins and fumes. Avoid sex in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Once the pregnancy moves into the second trimester and is strong and stable it is time to relax and enjoy the experience. Acupuncture is used to treat both the mother and in turn the child, and maintain a healthy pregnancy. Treatment recommendation is based on individual requirements, usually once every 2-4 weeks, depending on the history and particular symptoms that may arise. Chinese Herbal Medicine is usually reduced and stopped during this stage, unless it is required for particular issues.
Having regular Acupuncture treatment throughout your pregnancy is great with helping to manage many symptoms that you may experience along the way.
Weekly Pre-birth Acupuncture treatments are recommended in the final 4 weeks of pregnancy (from Week 36) to prepare your body for birth. From a Chinese Medicine point of view Acupuncture treatments can help prepare a woman's body for birth, with an emphasis on preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour as well as preparing the mother mentally. Yang activity replaces Yin material growth, Qi and Blood must flow freely, and the door of the uterus opens (1).
During labour acupressure points can be pressed and stimulated by your partner to assist with pain relief.
1. Betts, D 2006. The essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy & Childbirth, England, The Journal of Chinese Medicine Ltd.