You’re pregnant, congratulations!
Can I have acupuncture when I’m pregnant?
Absolutely! During my eleven years clinical practice of acupuncture in Bath I have had the pleasure of supporting many women through their pregnancy. Acupuncture offers a safe, incredibly relaxing and natural way to rebalance your body and mind when you’re pregnant, and as a bonus it helps to promote a positive and calm birth!
Every woman enters pregnancy from a different place both physically and emotionally. Some women are thrilled to learn that they are pregnant especially if they have struggled to conceive. For others they may experience anxiety alongside their happiness, this may be more likely if they have suffered from previous miscarriages or have undergone IVF treatment. Some women may not have been planning to become pregnant and feel a little unprepared for their pregnancy journey. However, wherever your journey began and wherever you are right now acupuncture can help you.
How can acupuncture help?
Though for many, being pregnant is largely a positive experience some of the physical and emotional changes can feel challenging. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to help women feel their best whilst they are pregnant. In recent years acupuncture has become well known for its role in helping to turn a breech baby and for encouraging labour when a woman is past her due date. However, there are many other times during your pregnancy that acupuncture can be helpful too. These can range from physical symptoms to emotional symptoms such feeling weepier or more irritable, anxious or experiencing a low mood. Some women who I have worked with have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety before becoming pregnant and find their symptoms have worsened during pregnancy.
When should I have acupuncture?
Some women like to have acupuncture throughout their pregnancy for general wellness and preparation for birth. Other women chose to have acupuncture just whilst they are experiencing a specific health complaint such as nausea or sciatica. Although every pregnancy is different you are more likely to experience particular symptoms in each of the trimesters.
During your first trimester
This tends to be the time that in many ways women feel their worst. Your body has to accommodate infinite changes in your hormone levels as your baby grows at an incredible rate. Your blood sugar levels fluctuate too which can lead to tiredness and an increase in cravings for carbohydrates. It’s also not easy to explain to others how you are feeling either as at this stage you don’t particularly look pregnant and you may not yet wish to tell people. Nausea and morning sickness is very common as well as feeling weepy and more emotional than usual. For some women, I work with they may have previously suffered from anxiety or depression and feel that their condition has become worse. Common conditions seen in the acupuncture clinic in the first trimester include:
- Morning sickness
- Threatened Miscarriage
For many women, the second trimester is the most comfortable of all three. Sickness and nausea tend to lessen or go away completely which comes as a welcome relief to many women.
Other conditions that are commonly seen in the acupuncture clinic in the second trimester include:
- Sinus congestion
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Numbness and tingling in the hands)
- Swollen ankles
This is the time that you can start to feel a little physically uncomfortable. This is because your ligaments relax due to the hormone relaxin and the growing weight of your baby bump begins to pull you forward making it more difficult to maintain balance. The increased weight will mean you need to empty your bladder more frequently as well as this you can find it more difficult to sleep as you struggle to get comfortable. Naturally, this can cause you to feel more tired.
The most common conditions experienced in the third trimester include:
- Breech Presentation- Moxibustion is used alongside acupuncture
- Heartburn/acid reflux
- Leg cramps
- Sinus congestion
- Back pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Pre-birth acupuncture refers to weeks 36-40 weeks of pregnancy and it is thought that having weekly acupuncture at this time helps your body to prepare for a better birth. Acupuncture can:
- Help to reduce fear and anxiety around birth
- Helps to prepare the cervix and pelvis for labour
- Helps to build energy and stamina before labour
- Helps to encourage labour when past your due date
Feeling stressed, read on..
We all now know the importance of eating healthily during pregnancy but what about helping your mind to stay healthy too! Regardless of the reason somebody has decided to come for acupuncture, there is one universal benefit that most people experience which is an overall reduction in stress levels. As an acupuncturist, I understand the significance of this, especially during pregnancy. This is because Eastern medicine has long since known that by looking after your mind and emotional health during pregnancy you will ensure that you have a calm and peaceful baby with a strong constitution.
We have in modern times been able to explain this from a scientific perspective too. For example, it has been shown that when a mother is stressed over a long period of time that levels of stress hormones such as cortisol are higher in the amniotic fluid. This shows there is a direct link between mother and baby and the emotions and thoughts that we have.
So what causes stress?
Where do we start! Stress can be of a different source for different women. But some of the most common include working hard and being in a stressful work environment. Worrying about loved ones such as parents and friends and simply having to do too much such as moving house whilst pregnant and feeling overwhelmed by the situation. Whilst acupuncture can’t change your external circumstances it can help to promote a deep sense of calm which eases tension and increases your resilience to stress. The improvement in general mood experienced by many of my clients can be explained by acupuncture’s ability to release endorphins (your feel-good hormones) and because of the way that acupuncture has been shown to regulate the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Post Natal support
We can tend to not give much thought to after the birth but the post natal period has been termed the fourth trimester in Eastern cultures and is seen as vitally important. This is the time that the mother restores her energy that has been lost during childbirth. This ensures her future health and strong breastmilk for her child. Acupuncture is most often used to help with:
- Baby blues
- Problems with lactation
- Perineal Pain
- Pain from having a cesarean
If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment I would love to hear from you.