Acupuncture during pregnancy and as a preparation to childbirth
Acupuncture treatment is a very effective way to maintain good health during your pregnancy; it is completely natural and can be used for most of the common complaints that may arise at different stages of your pregnancy. I use acupuncture to help with problems such as morning sickness, fatigue, emotional upsets, and the usual back and pelvic pain, oedema, and digestive problems in the last trimester. Acupuncture can help inducing your birth naturally if you go beyond the due date, or turn the baby in case of a breech presentation. After the birth of your baby, a few acupuncture treatments or some Chinese herbs will help to restore your energy back to its normal levels.
Acupuncture for morning sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
Morning sickness often starts early in pregnancy, this is a very common complaint. In many cases it can be very mild, but it can also be very severe. It is usually at its peak between week 7 and 9, and tend to disappear naturally between week 14 and 16, but unfortunately some women suffer all through pregnancy. The sickness varies from mild nausea to frequent vomiting and in severe cases hospitalisation may be necessary to treat dehydration. Travel sickness wristbands are designed to stimulate an acupuncture point situated on the wrist that can help to control your morning sickness in addition to treatments. I combine acupuncture with some very effective homeopathic remedies to control morning sickness. Only few sessions are required for a good improvement, 4-6 sessions would be the general guide. I will give you some advice on foods that will support your general energy and suggestions for foods that may help to alleviate the nausea.
Scientific research show that acupuncture is effective in reducing morning sickness
Acupuncture for birth Induction
Acupuncture can be used to help induce a baby naturally if a mother is more than a few days beyond her due date. Treatment for birth induction will make use of special techniques and points that can help to start the contractions. Many mothers who have gone over their due date prefer to try a natural approach before going for any kind of medical induction which can be rather uncomfortable. Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture have a long tradition of assisting in the initiation of labour. Th final few weeks of pregnancy can be a bit uncomfortable and stressful when delivery is near or overdue; the body can get tenser and essentially delay labour further by falling into a sympathetic loop, where too much adrenalin (a fight or flight hormone which inhibits labour) is released. Acupuncture relaxes the body from this tense state, and stops the sympathetic loop. Some research indicates that certain points, when stimulated, can trigger the release of oxytocin from the post pituitary gland, which leads to uterine contraction. By using Electro-stimulation of acupuncture points, the contractions can be stimulated easily, so avoiding synthetic doses of pharmaceutical oxytocin. Once contractions have begun, points on the ear can be used to help maintain a continual healthy delivery, lessening pain and stress
Acupuncture for breech presentation
A baby will generally settle into a cephalic -head down – position by week 34/36 of pregnancy. When the baby is head up, this is referred to as a breech position. An estimated 3.5% of the babies that are born are in breech presentation just before delivery. Sometimes, theobstetricianwill try to turn the baby in the womb. This is an uncomfortable procedure for the expectant mother. About 80% of the women with a baby in breech presentation will ultimately have a caesarean operation. Most of those women would rather experience a natural delivery. For that reason, many of them try a special technique of Chinese medicine: warming and heating Acupuncture point, BL67 which is situated on the little toe.This helps to stimulate the baby to move whilst at the same time relaxing the uterine muscles, encouraging the baby to turn. The treatment is done once a day until the baby turn, often one treatment only is needed This is a special technique, using moxibustion on a point on the 5th toe that can turn a breech baby into the right position. It works best before 36 weeks, although I have had some success turning breech babies at 37 and 38 weeks. Beyond 37 weeks, the baby is now too big to turn completely, but at 33 or 37 weeks there is still enough room to move.
Moxibustion for breech presentation: significant new evidence
Using moxibustion in primary healthcare to correct non-vertex presentation: a multicentre randomised controlled trial: Jorge Vas, José Manuel Aranda-Regules Manuela Modesto, María Ramos-Monserrat, Mercedes Barón, Inmaculada Aguilar, Nicolás Benítez-Parejo, Carmen Ramírez-Carmona, Francisco Rivas-Ruiz Objective To compare the effectiveness of additional moxibustion at point BL67 with moxibustion at a non-specific acupuncture point and with usual care alone to correct non-vertex presentation. Methods This was a multicentre randomised controlled trial in which 406 low-risk pregnant women with a fetus in ultrasound breech presentation, with a gestational age of 33–35 weeks, were assigned to (1) true moxibustion at point BL67 plus usual care; (2) moxibustion at SP1, a non-specific acupuncture point (sham moxibustion) plus usual care; or (3) usual care alone. The primary outcome was cephalic presentation at birth. Women were recruited at health centres in primary healthcare. Results In the true moxibustion group, 58.1% of the full-term presentations were cephalic compared with 43.4% in the sham moxibustion group (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.70) and 44.8% of those in the usual care group (RR 1.29, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.64). The reduction in RR of the primary outcome in women allocated to the true moxibustion group compared with the usual care group was 29.7% (95% CI 3.1% to 55.2%) and the number needed to treat was 8 (95% CI 4 to 72). There were no severe adverse effects during the treatment. Conclusions Moxibustion at acupuncture point BL67 is effective and safe to correct non-vertex presentation when used between 33 and 35 weeks of gestation. We believe that moxibustion represents a treatment option that should be considered to achieve version of the non-vertex fetus.
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Pj Cousin is a full member of the British Acupuncture Council and of the Unified Register of herbal Practitioners