My journey through acupuncture for pregnancy

A lot of the work that I do in my clinic is dispensing acupuncture for pregnancy, so naturally when I found out I myself was pregnant I did not hesitate to book my first appointment with a colleague to begin supporting the pregnancy. I was also an older first time mother, that is I was over 35 years of age. This is known in the industry as Advanced Maternal Age (AMA). This meant that I would be watched closely by the medical establishment. It also meant that I wanted to lean quite heavily on acupuncture to provide me with the best support possible.

The pregnancy started off without a hitch. All my hormone levels were good, and there was no pain. The only thing I had was nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) aka morning sickness. I had a lot of it. Morning, noon and night. I was extremely sensitive to smells, and was unable to keep anything down including water. I saw my acupuncturist weekly for help, and at home I wondered around the house with various needles sticking out of my wrists and legs. Unfortunately the nausea was too bad, and I had to resort to pharmaceutical intervention. It was easier than taking Chinese herbs which I could not even smell without bringing up my breakfast.

Half way during second semester the NVP subsided. My energy levels slowly returned. All scans and blood work were good. The baby was growing well. I was very lucky in that I was not experiencing any pain. This trimester I gave acupuncture a break. I felt I didn’t need it.

Another aspect of pregnancy acupuncture that I practice at the clinic is labour preparation and also labour induction. I didn’t want to be induced in any way or form, whether through acupuncture or otherwise so instead I began my labour preparation at week 36. Labour preparation usually starts from week 34 onwards depending on the will and the condition of the mother. I felt strong and mentally prepared so in consultation with my acupuncturist didn’t feel the need to start until week 36.

Labour preparation concentrates on building qi and blood in the mother as well as calming her shen (mind). This means that we help the mother build up her strength and her resources whilst helping her remain calm and focused. As the due date approaches we use acupuncture to ensure optimal positioning of the baby, balancing of the hormones and ripening of the cervix. The cervix isn’t our main focus until the baby has descended and is engaged.

Labour preparation progressed smoothly with me. I continued to feel strong and ready. Any miscellaneous issues such as reflux and the occasional pelvic and ribside pain was also eased with the acupuncture. My due date crawled towards me. I say “crawled” because by now I was very excited to meet my baby.

The day before my due date I had an acupuncture appointment. At my previous midwife appointment it was confirmed that the baby was fully engaged, and left occiput anteriorly positioned (LOA) which is the optimal position for labour. As everything seemed ready I asked my acupuncturist to do a gentle induction. She used the acupuncture points used for induction but without the electrical stimulation. It is important to note here, that acupuncture is a very useful tool to help induce labour. However, if the baby is not ready then it is unlikely that labour will be induced via acupuncture. It will however help prepare the body and baby for labour. With this in mind I underwent my final acupuncture treatment.

At six o’clock the next morning I woke to what I thought was quite severe cramping. It turned out that it wasn’t cramping – I was in labour! I trotted off to the hospital, and later that day my healthy beautiful baby boy was born.

My experience with acupuncture for pregnancy was very positive. I’m glad that as an acupuncturist I was able to experience it. This means that when I recommend it to patients or other people I am able to describe it from a more personal viewpoint just what they may expect. I was blessed with an uncomplicated pregnancy. The only difference was that being of AMA I was monitored a little more closely. I credit the acupuncture for taking my uncomplicated pregnancy and turning it in to a very smooth and enjoyable experience that I will treasure for ever.


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