However, there are many emotional, physical, and hormonal changes that occur in a short period of time. Feelings of physical discomfort, nausea, anxiety, backache, and fatigue are just a few of the common complaints that pregnant women experience. Studies show 50-80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness. Acupuncture is a gentle, safe and painless way to treat these conditions, especially since many Western medications are not recommended during pregnancy.
to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. It sets the foundation for a healthy mom and baby by nurturing the growth and development of the fetus while supporting the many changes mom is experiencing. During each month of pregnancy we add a specific point to the treatment that supplements the organ system developing at that time. During the first trimester, treatments are given once per week to prevent any early complications, feelings of fatigue or nausea. At the end of the first trimester we use a special point called the “beautiful baby point” to ensure a healthy and happy baby. During the second trimester we focus on any conditions mom is experiencing along with supplementing the developing fetus. During the third trimester we prepare mom and baby for labor and delivery. Studies show that women who receive regular acupuncture during pregnancy have shorter labor times and an easier labor.
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbs are safe to use during pregnancy. Acupuncture has been used for centuries and has been shown to have no adverse side effects and completely safe when administered by a licensed acupuncturist. Some acupuncture points are forbidden during pregnancy because they promote uterine contractions. We avoid using those points until the week of delivery when those same points can be used to induce labor in an uncomplicated pregnancy. Most Chinese herbs are safe during pregnancy, and some are often used to prevent miscarriage, help with constipation, sleep, and balance emotions.
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has also been used for breech presentations which occurs in one out of 25 full-term births. The reason could likely be due to fluid imbalance or structural variation. In Western medicine they use a method called ECV (External Cephalic Version), which attempts to manually turn the baby. It is uncomfortable and carries many risks. TCM uses an herb called moxa (mugwort) on a specific point on the foot anytime during weeks 32-36. It likely stimulates the uterus to increase activity, which allows the baby to turn on its own. In studies this treatment has been shown to be effective 70-75% of the time, while ECV is effective 40-50% of the time.
Although it might seem new in the United States, using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to treat infertility was described as early as 476 BC in China. Acupuncture improves circulation to the ovaries – which makes for healthier eggs – and to the uterus – which increases the chances that the lining will be strong enough to hold those eggs to full-term.
In general, studies seem to indicate that doing acupuncture about 30 minutes before and after in vitro fertilization can increase the chance that the embryo will be implanted successfully and reduce the chance of miscarriage. There are also indications that the effectiveness of the IVF drugs and procedure may improve if acupuncture is done about once a week in the month or two leading up to the start of IVF and then continued regularly — once or twice a week — during the whole cycle.
The process surrounding fertility can be an emotional and stressful time. Acupuncture is a stress reliever, and when the body is relaxed, all systems function better.
According to a German study published by the National Library of Medicine in April of 2002, acupuncture may also increase a couple’s chance of conception when used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this study, 160 participants were divided into two groups, each receiving a standard IVF procedure. One of the groups, however, received acupuncture before and after implantation. The standard in-vitro group had a 26.3 percent pregnancy rate, while the acupuncture group showed a 42.5 percent success rate.
Labor induction is typically started the week of the baby’s due date if there are no complications. Western medicine usually uses a drug to stimulate uterine contractions whether the mom is ready or not. If the labor does not progress this can lead to an unplanned cesarian section. Acupuncture naturally stimulates uterine contractions, the release of oxytosin and prostaglandins. This process is gentle and slow, and as a result labor can progress naturally. Several studies show a success rate of 70%.