Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pregnancy and Labour

During Pregnancy

There are many changes physically and emotionally throughout a pregnancy, and there are a number of health concerns which are especially associated with pregnancy. The majority of these aliments are generally considered 'par for the course' because they are not easily alleviated with western medicine. As many conventional pharmaceuticals cannot be used during pregnancy, this is a time when complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, are especially helpful.
Because it does not introduce any substance into the body, acupuncture is ideally suited to treat the following conditions:

Threatened miscarriage
Morning sickness
Back ache / sciatica
Breech presentation
Labor induction

Carlsson C, et al. Manual acupuncture reduces hyperemesis gravidarum: a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, crossover study. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management October 2000;20(4):273-279. Acupuncture conversion of fetal breech presentation. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2003 Nov-Dec;18(6):418-21

During labour (labor) and Delivery

Acupuncture and TCM can provide physical and emotional support to a woman during labour (labor), birth and the immediate postpartum period. The effects of support are: labour (labor)s are shorter, there are fewer complications, caesarean rates are reduced, there is less need for oxytocin to speed up labour (labor), and women request less pain medications and epidurals. As a result there is greater satisfaction with the mother's birth experience. Acupuncture specifically benefits the following conditions:

Cervical ripening
Pain management
Increase in contraction strength and frequency
Back pain
Anxiety and fear

Acupuncture for Cervical Maturation by Tremeau ML; Fontanie-Ravier P; Teurnier F; Demouzon J. Journal de Gynecologie, Obstetrique et Biologie de la Reproduction, 1992, 21(4):375-80. Allais, G., et al. Acupuncture in labor management. Minerva ginecologica 55(6): 503-10. Eappen S, Robbins D., Nonpharmacological means of pain relief for labor and delivery, Int Anesthesiol Clini. 2002 Fall; 40(4): 103-14, Review

After Childbirth

There have been many demands placed on the mother throughout her labour (labor), and a woman's body generally makes it's recovery in the 6 weeks after the birth of the baby. This is a special time for parents as they develop close, lifelong bonds with their child. Nevertheless, giving birth can be a real shock to the new mother's system, and there may be symptoms that persist or develop after the initial recovery period. Acupuncture can help replenish and restore the balance in a women's body and is effective in treating the following postpartum conditions:

Postpartum depression
Blocked ducts/mastitis
Breast milk not flowing/insufficient supply

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, vital energy (called Qi) circulates in the body along 14 major energy pathways called meridians, each linking to specific internal organs and organ systems. When there is physical injury or pain, mental stress, emotional conflict, the natural healthy flow of Qi will be impeded within the meridian system.

On each meridian there are specific points which function to re-establish the correct flow of energy. Acupuncture is the method of inserting thin, sterile needles into these points in order to stimulate and balance the body's energy to restore health.

As with all complementary therapies in pregnancy, ensure that the therapist you consult is fully qualified. As no substance is ingested into the body, acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In order to prevent any risk of infection, only sterile, single-use disposable needles are used during acupuncture treatments.