A centuries-old alternative to drug therapies, acupuncture is a healing art which both men and women have used for hundreds of years. As an alternative to modern drugs, this practice uses the body’s natural flow and energy to help calm and heal itself. Especially during pregnancy, when many women suffer from nausea, back pain and other various ailments, it exists as an excellent source to address problems naturally.
Acupuncture exists as an excellent resource for women who:
Acupuncture is ideal for pregnant women because it is a non-evasive and drug-free process. Studies indicate that repeated sessions help to maintain a healthy body and increase a woman’s physical comfort both while pregnant and during childbirth, with no adverse effects. Acupuncture works to align the body’s energy and blood flow; this can help to shorten the labor and provide natural pain relief during childbirth. This alternative medical methodology can also decrease issues arising from postpartum depression.
Acupuncture and Pregnancy
Specifically, many women find acupuncture to be beneficial in addressing problems such as nausea, pelvic pain, headaches, heartburn, leg cramps, insomnia, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, low energy and anemia. This alternative practice promotes an overall sense of well-being, which helps a woman to reduce fear and stress levels naturally. Acupuncture’s benefits assist women through all stages of pregnancy, during labor and after delivery when provided by a licensed and knowledgeable professional.
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Acupuncture and Delivery
During delivery, this ancient art may help to regulate contractions and shorten labor. By naturally stimulating the cervix, acupuncture works to relax the woman and ease labor pains. In more complicated cases, such as breech births, acupuncturists may be able to help the body turn the baby naturally, thus reducing the need of intrusive medical interventions.
Regular acupuncture treatments may also reduce a woman’s need for a C-section. However, if a C-section becomes inevitable, using acupuncture post-delivery improves the likelihood of a swift recovery. Several studies indicate that acupuncture stimulates the body to release endorphins, or the body’s natural stress relievers. Naturally releasing endorphins strengthens the body’s response to fatigue, weakness and depression which often affect women after childbirth.
Although acupuncture offers many benefits, it cannot replace the overall effects of regional anesthesia and pain medication. In short, it cannot numb the pain of childbirth; it can help the body naturally work through it. A mother’s mobility may also be limited while undergoing treatment and she may initially feel a slight discomfort when the needles are inserted. It is always a good practice to see if the benefits outweigh the negatives before undergoing treatment, and discuss all options with a medical professional.
Acupuncture and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be a difficult experience, especially for new mothers, yet it exists as a crucial component to strengthening the mother-child bonding experience. Acupuncture can assist a woman in increasing her initial milk supply and improving milk flow. While some women must wait before their milk arrives, studies indicate that women who receive acupuncture treatments enjoy a quicker arrival of milk. Research also indicates that regular acupuncture may prevent milk blocks and increases the milk’s overall quality. All of these factors work together to create a more pleasurable and memorable breastfeeding experience for both mother and baby.
Selecting an Acupuncturist
When choosing an acupuncturist, it’s important to determine if he or she possesses certification in pregnancy and childbirth acupuncture. Many acupuncture institutes offer specific, typically one-year training programs to assist pregnant women. Professional practitioners may also have obtained certification through a two-year, comprehensive post-graduate training program offered by accredited universities. Always ask to see a practitioner’s credentials and ask for references from previous clients.
Credential programs require acupuncturists to master the physiology and pathology of women during pregnancy as well as mastering concepts related to birth preparation and labor. Programs explore how acupuncture can help the body deal with common ailments including back pain and morning sickness as well as postnatal care and breastfeeding. Training typically includes clinical rounds and attending births and practicing techniques under the supervision of experienced professionals.
Obstetricians, midwives and doulas may all be certified acupuncturists in addition to their area of expertise. They will most likely hold a certificate from The American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, which overseas professional acupuncturists who specialize in maternity care. Many acupuncturists also obtain certification to attend water births or home births. When selecting a professional, it is important to determine if he or she possess certification for maternal acupuncture as some traditional acupuncture points are ill-advised during pregnancy.
Maternal acupuncturists should never attend a birth alone. A certified child birth expert, such as a doula, midwife or obstetrician should always be present during labor. An acupuncturist should complement the birth process rather than directing it. Experience exists as a key factor when selecting an alternative medical professional; all credentials, references, education and experience should be confirmed.
It’s always a good idea to try acupuncture before pregnancy. Several trips to a certified acupuncturist may help a woman determine her comfort levels and assess whether or not this medical alternative is for her. Acupuncture exists as an excellent alternative to invasive and drug therapies to treat the discomfort of pregnancy as well as potentially speed labor and decrease the time for the body to heal after childbirth.
Kathryn is a baby-wearing, cloth diapering, DIY mom to her quickly growing and pretty cute toddler. When she isn't researching and writing about natural approaches to pregnancy and parenting, she's acting out her favorite children's books or singing off-key made-up songs.