First of all, it’s a holistic medicine. It differs from western medicine in the sense that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches the body as a whole: every part of the body is connected to each other. The mind, the spirit and the body are closely related and allow each other to work in harmony in connection with the environment. Most importantly, the balance between the internal organs, the vital substances such as Qi, Blood and Body fluids is the first principle of TCM: this is the key to a physiological and balanced health.
That means that TCM treats the root and the branch at the same time. We work on alleviating the symptoms but we also more importantly work on the constitution, so we make sure the disease doesn’t come back right away.
As you understand, it’s also a preventive medicine. Working on constitution allows us to build the immune system up, reinforce the vital substances so your body avoids sickness and diseases. Developed in China, old from more than 8000 years, this medicine has been practiced for thousands of years to support pregnancy. It’s completely safe four you and your baby. I would even say that it’s necessary for a healthy outcome.
From a scientific approach, inserting needles into the body triggers the brain to release chemicals such as endorphins, anti inflammatory factors… that explains, for example, the pain relief and the immunity boost that you can benefit from acupuncture. It also brings the flow of blood to the acupuncture point so the blood is circulating better, relieving some blockages thus better nourishing internal organs.
During the first trimester, acupuncture helps to balance the vital energies (Qi, blood, Body fluids) and to strengthen the Kidney essence, which is the primary source energy in every body. The prenatal essence forms the basis for prenatal growth and development of the embryo.
In that sense, acupuncture will help for a smooth and safe first trimester of pregnancy and so avoid miscarriages and other complications.
Even better, I recommend every woman who is thinking about getting pregnant, to start acupuncture and Chinese herbs therapy at least 3 months before the conception to make sure the menstrual cycle is regular and smooth, the ovaries are producing healthy eggs, the uterus lining is thick enough to welcome the embryo and the kidneys are firm enough to be able to maintain the pregnancy until the term. All these conditions need to be fulfilled to have a healthy pregnancy.
From a symptomatic point of view, acupuncture helps to relieve:
In the second trimester, pregnant women start to experience low back pain/sciatica, hemorrhoids, sleep disturbance, but also more serious conditions like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension …
Acupuncture will help relieve the symptoms but also improve the medical situation by treating the root.
Again, the best way to use acupuncture is of course as a preventive medicine. If acupuncture is performed early enough in the pregnancy, then it will prevent having these serious troubles.
In the third trimester, acupuncture will continue to balance and relieve symptoms but also will make sure your baby is in the good position with the head down. Additionally, acupuncture is an approved method for labor preparation.
If you have a breech baby, acupuncture will definitely help you, in addition with some recommended exercises, to tilt the baby.
But one condition is needed! You have to start at 34 weeks so your baby still has the space to move. Please ask your doctor to let you know your baby’s position by then, this is very important. Don’t wait for the ultrasound at 36 weeks. It’s way too late and the chances for your baby to turn decreases by everyday.
Believe me, from my experience, turning a breech baby at 33–34 weeks is just so simple! I always feel bad when women come to see me after 36 weeks for a breech baby because I strongly believe I could have helped her avoid a C-section if they were coming sooner…
The last but not the least reason to receive acupuncture during pregnancy is labor preparation.
Labor preparation will allow you a safe and harmonious labor for both your baby and yourself.
Who doesn’t want a smooth and effective labor? Every woman I’ve worked with always talk about her fear to go past due date and to be induced, to suffer and to have a long labor. Here is the answer I always give them: Acupuncture is one of the keys.
For labor preparation, acupuncture will help:
All these conditions need to be unified if you want a smooth labor. Here are some explanations:
Ripe your cervix: the more your cervix is ripe before the first contractions, the faster your labor will be
Descend and position your baby in the pelvis: a low presentation will push on the cervix itself and will mechanically trigger the prostaglandins at the cervix level to ripe this one.
Make you feel confident and ready emotionally: oxytocin, the hormone that allows your labor to start and to be harmonious, is secreted at one condition: you need to feel confident, loved and comfortable. We call it the hormone of love. That’s for a reason! It’s secreted by the archaic brain. This one, also called the instinctive brain, doesn’t work if you are stressed or overthinking. It’s the animal brain, the brain that doesn’t think. It follows the instinct. So I just want to tell you one word: trust and follow your body sensations!
Stretch your perineum : the perineum has a big role in the position and the engagement of your baby in the pelvis and so on the length of your pushing phase. In addition, if you have a well prepared perineum, you will have less risks of tearing.
I recommend every pregnant woman to start labor prep with acupuncture at 36 weeks, at a rhythm of one treatment a week, up to 2 treatments a week after 40 weeks.
Yes and no. Acupuncture, if done early enough as mentioned above, will avoid past due date and will encourage natural spontaneous labor. If you come at 41 weeks as a last chance for a natural induction, it might help but it’s no guarantee that it will induce you right away. Your body needs time to adapt to acupuncture treatment. It’s better if your body has been prepared way before and just need a little push to get started into the labor.
Acupuncture is not magic, it’s medicine! It takes time to show some effects.
In addition, labor preparation with acupuncture will also:
Continuing acupuncture for the postpartum period will also greatly help you to recover from the birth.
We can work on :
As a french midwife, doula and acupuncturist, I strongly believe in TCM and I would be honored to give you the chance of a healthy pregnancy, labor and postpartum.
I wish you a happy pregnancy and a beautiful baby!