Pregnancy care is aimed at assisting a mother through the gestational period of pregnancy. Your normal medical check-ups and scans will identify any irregularities or dangers to yourself or your child. However, there are still many challenges in getting through a pregnancy, and many women will find benefit in seeking supportive care during the pregnancy process. At the Traditional Acupuncture Clinic we are devoted to offering exceptional pregnancy care, we even have special pregnancy attachments for our beds allowing you to lay face down or comfortably in any position. Following is a brief outline of where and when Traditional East Asian Medicine can be used.
Musculoskeletal Pain/ cramping
This is an area where acupuncture treatment particularly excels. Although not limited to only lower back and leg pain, most women will experience pain, cramping or neuralgia in these areas by the end of their pregnancy. Acupuncture is a versatile treatment, and although the administration of massage and other physical medicines become challenging late in pregnancy, acupuncture can still be safely and easily performed. In most cases, the extra weight and pressure associated with carrying an unborn child is responsible for triggering pain. However, some women have a history of lower back pain or neuralgia before they are pregnant and their pain becomes aggravated during their pregnancy. In both instances, acupuncture can often manage and relieve symptoms. Current medical research has found moderate supporting evidence for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of back and pelvic pain during pregnancy (Acupuncture evidence project). As a result, you may increasingly be recommended to seek acupuncture treatment by your obstetrician or midwife.
A Breached presentation (head up – feet down) can sometimes be corrected by moxibustion (specialised heat treatment). When used for this purpose it can be combined with acupuncture as part of a routine pre-birth treatment. Current medical research suggests that evidence is emerging/ limited, however moxibustion along with acupuncture treatment has been associated with a higher likelihood of a head down presentation at birth and a lesser need for caesarean section. This may also represent another option for women who cannot undergo a cephalic version (external manual correction of the baby’s position) or for women hoping to avoid one. Acupuncture and moxibustion treatment is a safe and comfortable option and has become commonly recommended by midwives. Best results are obtained when treatment begins at 34-36 weeks, it is still somewhat useful by 39weeks.
Pre-birth Treatment and Promotion of Labour
This has certainly become popular in recent years, perhaps due to being frequently recommended by mid-wives. Treatment is usually commenced at 36 weeks with the main goal being to promote health and a natural labour. There are several important considerations at this time; the health of the mother, the position of the foetus and the readiness of the mother’s body to begin labour. Treatment is adapted to the needs and circumstances of the situation and may be undertaken for any of the conditions mentioned in this article. Treatment for the promotion of labour ONLY, sometimes commenced closer to the due date or after, is anecdotally believed to have moderate success and forms a good adjunct to direct cervical stimulation (like via stretch and sweep). It also has the added benefit of being typically relaxing, which is especially helpful for mothers who are beginning to feel anxious. All treatment is performed as an adjunct to usual care, every mother must be under the care of an obstetrician or midwifery/ birth centre.
Most women will experience nausea during the early stages of pregnancy. Some, however, will vomit repeatedly and suffer immensely for several weeks or even their whole pregnancy. For those with mild to moderate symptoms, making certain lifestyle changes can be enough to reduce their suffering. Some options are as follows; eating small regular snacks, avoiding rich food, taking in small frequent fluids, getting adequate or extra rest. Acupuncture may compliment the above lifestyle advice.
Swelling of the lower legs is extremely common in the later stages of pregnancy, however some women have more severe swelling in their upper and lower extremities and their face, along with weight gain, protein in their urine and increasingly high blood pressure. This situation can become a medical emergency and therefore, even in the early stages, requires strict monitoring at home and by a midwife/ doctor. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used as a supportive treatment during this time to assist in lowering blood pressure and managing swelling. Treatment is most effective when commenced shortly after your first elevated readings or if protein is found in the urine.
It is common for there to be some sleep disruption during pregnancy. If insomnia is caused by anxiety/ agitation or pain, acupuncture may be able to offer considerable assistance. Acupuncture is becoming popular for the treatment of anxiety and there is a moderate level of evidence to support its use.
Nasal Congestion and Runny Nose
Persistent sinus pain, headaches, congestion and runny nose are common symptoms during a pregnancy. Due to the preference of expectant mothers to avoid harsh medications and decongestants (some not being considered safe during pregnancy), acupuncture can be used as an alternative to relieve symptoms. It is important to still consult with your doctor as colds and flus are often monitored more closely at this time. Acupuncture, however is suited to treating nasal symptoms that are difficult or persistent, of which there is good evidence to support its use.