As an acupuncturist specializing in fertility and pregnancy, I see a lot of woman at various stages of their pregnancy and my goal is always the same. How can I help them enjoy a comfortable, healthy pregnancy and therefore make it more likely they will enjoy a comfortable, calm birth?
One thing I hear time and again is that they have been told whatever they are going through is normal in pregnancy. But weeks of being uncomfortable, anxious, exhausted or in pain is not ideal – and in my experience completely unnecessary, no matter how ‘normal’ the symptom.
But when should you think about finding one? What can it help with? Is it safe?
The Big Bang.
For some women their first experience will be the dreaded morning sickness. Now if your nausea disappears when you eat more acupuncture isn’t really needed, your body is just telling you it needs more fuel. The BIG BANG just happened in your uterus and it needs energy for its’ expansion into another being! But if you find your sickness lasts all day, you struggle to keep food or drink down, or you are really in a state with hyperemesis gravidarium, book in some sessions as soon as possible. It is likely you will need a couple of sessions a week to start then weekly until it abates.
Sciatica, symphysis pubis pain (also called SPD and PGP), leg cramps, back pain, rib pain and carpal tunnel syndrome are all great candidates for conditions that can be reliably helped with acupuncture. This might be combined with osteopathy or chiropractic treatment if appropriate and your practitioner can advise you further. Again, the earlier you start, the better. I’ve seen patients report improvement, if not complete banishment of pain or discomfort after just one or two sessions.
The Mamma Mias
Fatigue and exhaustion can really impact on day-to day life when pregnant and there can be many reasons for this. The mamma mias – insomnia and anaemia – diet, stress, other children to look after and work can all take their toll and sometimes some straight talking is all that’s actually required. Do less, eat better, nap. That said, acupuncture can really help a return to a state of more balanced energy, promote better sleep and even address anaemia by helping build the blood and supporting the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Miscarriage, threatened miscarriage.
No one wants to talk about miscarriage but if the worst has happened then acupuncture can be a way to help your body efficiently expel an unviable foetus. In the case of threatened miscarriage, the ‘wait and see’ advice can be extremely stressful and acupuncture can address any underlying conditions that might be contributing to the body’s struggle to maintain a pregnancy, though if the foetus is not viable then nature will inevitably take her course. Treatment with an acupuncturist can be continued at this point to support recovery and subsequent conceptions.
When else could acupuncture help? Anxiety and depression can really rob some women of their joy in pregnancy. Whether rooted in experience (previous miscarriages or stillbirth, medical history) or a further trigger for an already anxious person, acupuncture offers a safe and effective way to support mental and emotional health. Vaginal discharge and itching, pregnancy induced hypertension, heartburn; there’s little that acupuncture can’t help with.
Completely safe in the hands of a qualified practitioner and also extremely gentle in its approach, to find a specialist practitioner local Acupuncture Childbirth Teams (e.g. ACT London) are a good place to start. They offer a register of members who have all completed approved postgraduate training in this area and have a special interest in supporting pregnancy and birth.
Claire Dabreo, aka The London Acupuncturist, has created a Birth Well Package to support mamas-to-be in the final weeks of pregnancy and into their fourth trimester. Combining weekly acupuncture sessions, support for birth partners in administering acupressure in labour and a Mother Roasting Kit to use post-partum, the Birth Well package is designed to nurture, nourish and restore.
Mother Roasting Gift Boxes are also available via www.thelondonacupuncturist.co.uk