Acupunture and Pregnancy: A Guide For Each Trimester
The two most common reasons moms-to-be come for acupuncture during pregnancy are to help induce labor so they may be able to avoid a medical induction, and to help turn a baby in a breech position. Both of these are great reasons to use acupuncture, and the ones most people have heard of, and they work beautifully. But to me, they are by far not the most important reasons to use acupuncture in pregnancy. If I had it my way, I would see most women in pregnancy from beginning to end, and especially through the postpartum time. Inducing a woman at 40 weeks is great and can be really effective, but working with the body to help find balance throughout the pregnancy brings the greatest results for both mama and baby.
For the past 8 years, I have been treating women in pregnancy and have watched so many women find the birth and labor that they were hoping for, in part because of whatacupuncture and Chinese Medicine were able to provide for them. In each trimester, we are looking to help baby and mama find the right balance during that time, and each trimester has its own special needs.
During the first trimester, many women find themselves feeling fatigued and experiencing some form of morning sickness, ranging from mild to quite severe. Within these initial months, I recommend women get weekly acupuncture. It’s an important time to help balance the hormones, help a woman get her energy back, and reduce any nausea or vomiting she might be having. Acupuncture is great at helping all of these things, but seeing an acupuncturist also allows a mama-to-be to talk about simple dietary changes, lifestyle concerns, and stressors one may be dealing with, all of which can make a world of a difference in having a comfortable and healthy first trimester. In addition, weeklyacupuncture during the first trimester is incredibly effective to help prevent miscarriage and keep baby healthy and happy.
Starting around the 12th-14th week, most women start to get their energy back, their morning sickness has diminished, and they feel more like themselves. During this time I encourage people to get back out there and truly enjoy their pregnancy! Reducingacupuncture visits to monthly tune-ups is my recommendation for the 2nd trimester for most women. Monthly visits allow the moms-to-be a chance to check in with their bodies, talk about any issues that may be coming up, and help the body keep that natural balance. During monthly tune-ups, we go over any questions or concerns about birth plans and aid in helping a woman find a doula or birth education class. These tune-ups can often be a great time to get a holistic perspective so that each woman can make the right choices for her and her family. If a woman is having symptoms or some kind of imbalance that she may need to have addressed, or there are more emotional or physical concerns coming up, I will recommend that she come in as often as needed to help her find that balance. But for many women, once per month during the 2nd trimester is just right.
By about 32 or 33 weeks, I recommend women start to come back for weekly acupuncture. This is the perfect time for a woman to begin to get prepped for labor, the birth, and recovery. Often, mamas will call me at 40 weeks to be induced, and we can do that and we are usually successful, but really the best time to start this process is many weeks earlier. Through the use of acupuncture, homeopathy, and sometimes gentle supplements, we can greatly reduce the possibility of a medical induction, balance stressors, help a mama feel much more comfortable in her body, make sure baby is in the right position for birth, and help mama find all that great energy she is going to need for labor. In addition, the moms-to-be that I have seen get acupuncture through their pregnancy, and specifically the entire last trimester, when they compare it to prior pregnancies, they have less complications, less interventions, and an incredibly easier recovery. I can’t say enough about getting regular and consistent acupuncture treatment during the last couple of months before the birth to help balance mind, body, and spirit.
4th Trimester (Postpartum)
Aaaahhh, the 4th trimester. Most women are tired and hopefully resting from the labor and childbirth. At this time, I encourage women to stay in bed as long as possible, get skin to skin with baby, rest and recover, and sleep, sleep, sleep. Of course, if this is your 2nd or 3rd or 4th baby…that rest can be harder to come by. During the postpartum time,acupuncture becomes incredibly important to help the new mama regain energy, help heal any pains she may be having from the birth, and help balance her hormones postpartum. In addition, acupuncture is incredibly effective at helping ward off postpartum depression or anxiety. No matter whether its just to help a woman get her energy back, recover from the birth more quickly, or to help heal the body of any symptoms she may be having, I recommend having your acupuncturist come to your home for the first 1-2 months. Home visits help mamas have one less thing to do and one less place to go with their new baby, and help them get the self care that can be so greatly needed in the comfort of her own home. Acupuncture can be done with baby in her arms, allowing for easy breastfeeding, and can be very comfortable for both mama and baby. I usually recommend 4-5 sessions postpartum to help mama get back on her feet and back to feeling more like herself.
Acupuncture and natural medicine are incredibly effective and yet gentle tools to help bring about balance and true wellness, at all stages of pregnancy and birth. Acupuncture is safe and almost anyone can try it. Through the use of acupuncture and natural medicine one can find a better balance emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Jill Stevens, L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist in Emeryville, CA. Jill has been treating children and pregnant mamas for the last 8 years in her private practice at the Whole Family Wellness Center. She has been working to bring wellness to families through education and prevention through the use of Acupuncture & Chinese herbal medicine, homeopathy, and diet and nutrition. For more information about Jill’s practice please call her office or visit her website at www.yourwholefamilywellness.