Did you know that acupuncture can bring relief for a lot of common discomforts in pregnancy and postpartum, including morning sickness, headaches, and swelling? Learn more about the benefits of acupuncture for pregnant and postpartum women below. We are excited that our new team member, Ashley Grandkoski, LMT, L.Ac. can bring acupuncture and massage to our clients right in the comfort of their own home!
Benefits and Uses of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Pregnancy Care
By Ashley Grandkoski, LMT, L.Ac.
Though its often not the first thing people think of when they think of pregnancy care, acupuncture and Chinese medicine have a long history of use for aiding in and preparing for conception, alleviating symptoms and problems during pregnancy, and helping with labor and the postpartum period. The great thing about using acupuncture during pregnancy is that it is very gentle and safe and has virtually no harmful side-effects for mama or baby. It can be used at any stage of pregnancy, and increases the overall well-being of the patient while also addressing many problems and discomforts.
Here are some of the things acupuncture is most often used for:
Nausea and vomiting – a common, but miserable side-effect of pregnancy, nausea is sometimes hard to shake! A few regular acupuncture sessions can help control nausea, bringing it down a notch or two and making symptoms much more manageable.
Pain - acupuncture is well-known for being able to alleviate pain of all types. From normal aches and pains of pregnancy to sciatica and carpal tunnel, this can help! I often use bodywork as a helpful adjunct to acupuncture treatment.
Breech presentation - there is a well-established, very simple protocol that has good rates of turning breech, especially when used before the last few weeks of pregnancy. It is totally non-invasive and doesn’t even require the use of needles!
Pre-birth treatments – these are a wonderful way to prepare your body and mind for labor! Weekly treatments from 37 weeks on help prepare the body for birth by balancing energy, calming the mind and emotions, helping open the pelvis, ripen the cervix, and get energy moving in the low belly. Reports also suggest that these treatments decrease complications during labor and may even shorten its duration.
Labor stimulation - a gentle, easy approach to jump-starting labor, this has become a popular method to try for post-due mamas, and those approaching the window for medical induction. It doesn’t force the body, but can be the little nudge it needs to get things moving.
There are also many other issues that can be addressed with acupuncture, including:
-constipation and hemorrhoids
-urinary tract infections, acute or chronic
-carpal tunnel, sciatica and other nerve impingements
-fatigue and insomnia
-anxiety, depression and emotional swings
-vaginal irritation and yeast infections
-high blood pressure
-stabilizing and supporting pregnancy for someone with a risk for miscarriage
In addition to all these symptoms, acupuncture and massage are just great for you! They help decrease stress, calm emotions, increase immune function and generally nourish the body/mind and spirit. Who doesn’t need that?
Here are some questions you might have about acupuncture, along with some answers:
Q: How many treatments will I need to see results?
A: It usually takes more than one treatment for acupuncture to be really effective. It works cumulatively, building up its effects as treatments progress. Some things will only take a few treatments to resolve, but others may be longer term issues that take some time and commitment to truly get better. After the first session, I will do my best to give you an idea of how your condition is likely to respond, and how long it might take to see results.
Q: Do the needles hurt?
A: The needles used for acupuncture are extremely small and thin, and generally cause very little discomfort. Most often, you feel a small poke as the needle passes through the skin, but not much else. Some patients report feeling interesting sensations of energy moving, pressure, or a tingling/bubbling sensation. I am always careful to work within your tolerance level, and will stop or adjust if anything feels too strong or painful. In addition, acupuncturists are trained to use many methods other than needles for specific kinds of therapies. These other methods are often used during treatments in addition to acupuncture and can be used in place of needles for sensitive patients when needed.
Q: Is acupuncture safe, especially during pregnancy?
A: Yes! Acupuncture is extremely safe, and can be used at all stages of pregnancy. Acupuncturists go through extensive training, and are well-versed in cautions and contraindications for pregnancy.
Q: What can I expect in a treatment?
A: Normally, a treatment session involves an intake interview, where your medical history and health concerns are shared, and a treatment, which could involve acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and/or massage (all treatments are discussed before being administered, of course!). Lifestyle and dietary recommendations are sometimes also given. In addition, Chinese herbs may be suggested or prescribed if they are appropriate. Almost all patients report feeling very relaxed at the end of the session.
Q: Is it necessary to have a western diagnosis for a condition before seeking treatment?
A: No! Chinese medicine has its own unique system of diagnosis, involving feeling the pulses and looking at the tongue, that allows a practitioner to treat virtually any condition without any kind of western diagnosis. That being said, however, certain conditions are, of course, important to discuss with a doctor, midwife or other health professional.
Q: What is unique about a treatment with me (Ashley)?
A: I have a particular passion for working with pregnant women and new mothers, and have dedicated much time and research to learning about how to best care for them with Chinese medicine. I also often incorporate bodywork into my sessions to aid in relaxation and add a nurturing touch to all my treatments. In addition to having a sweet and calm presence, I am truly dedicated to holism in life and health and strive to treat patients on every level, meeting and supporting them wherever they are on their journey towards wellness.