Chinese Medicine From Pre-Conception Through Post-Partum
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs can be extremely useful in all stages of gynecological and obstetric care. For thousands of years, women have been treated for help conceiving, through all stages of pregnancy, and during and after childbirth. Below are more details on specific aspects of care.
Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus and hence increase the capacity for conception. Chinese medicine can be used to increase the chances of conceiving naturally or alongside medical interventions.
Women who experience irregular cycles, painful periods, PMS, or complications such as cysts or fibroids may be less fertile due to energetic imbalances causing those symptoms. Acupuncture along with Chinese herbs can help balance and regulate the menstrual cycle, thus improving fertility levels.
Some patients that have been diagnosed with infertility are advised to undergo fertility treatment such as IUI (intra uterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization). It is quite useful to have the support of acupuncture and herbs through the ups and downs of assisted reproductive technology as well. Some studies have shown that IVF combined with acupuncture is 40%-60% more successful than IVF alone. Results from another study showed a pregnancy was twice as likely to occur if acupuncture was used on the day of the embryo transfer2.
Additionally, many couples have difficulty achieving pregnancy due in large part to the stress in their lifestyle. Stress can be a major factor involved in health problems and acupuncture treatment can significantly reduce the stress response in the body. Relaxing the body and mind allows the body to carry out a natural process like conception more smoothly, and often pregnancy is achieved in a healthy couple more quickly once tension and imbalances are removed.
Pregnancy – 1st Trimester
Acupuncture can provide relief for some of the most common complaints in early pregnancy, such as nausea, vomiting, exhaustion and headaches. Treatment can also help support appetite and energy, and avoid medications for ailments like allergies, colds, and pain syndromes. In addition, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can reduce the chances of miscarriage, which is at highest risk during the first trimester.
Pregnancy – 2nd Trimester
Though most women are feeling relatively healthy during the 2nd trimester, continued treatment will support fetal growth and healthy development through balancing and strengthening the mother’s energy systems.
Pregnancy – 3rd Trimester
Acupuncture helps ease many of the discomforts of the 3rd trimester, such as back pain, sciatica, swelling, and insomnia. Treatment can also gently prepare the body for labor by ensuring smooth circulation of blood and energy to all tissues and organs involved. Patients who get acupuncture treatments throughout the pregnancy, especially the third trimester, report faster and less complicated deliveries3.
Pregnancy – End Stage
Acupuncture and an adjunctive technique, moxabustion are quite effective in turning breech babies, especially between weeks 32-37. In a 1998 Italian study, 130 women with breech presentation had daily moxabustion treatments during the 35th week of gestation. The study showed a 75% success rate in turning the breech babies head down. In a Japanese study conducted in 2000, 357 women had daily moxabustion, with a very impressive 92.5% correction rate.
Induction and/or Labor
Treatment with acupuncture has been shown to be helpful in preparing the body for labor as well as shortening the duration and minimizing the intensity of pain levels. It can also assist with relaxation of mind and body in this potentially stressful time.
Acupuncture is also a safe method used to induce labors that are overdue and start contractions without the use of drugs. Some patients receive acupuncture for pain relief during labor if the doctor, midwife, hospital or birthing center allow it. Acupressure at certain acupoints on the body during labor has also been shown to provide relief.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to help mothers recover from delivery. Childbirth is an experience that drains energy, and Chinese herbs especially can provide a much-needed boost to combat the blood loss and fatigue most people experience. A quick recovery by the parent means the best care for the new baby!
Further, treatment can help if there are imbalances causing lactation problems or other nursing disorders. It is also possible to speed recovery from cesarean section and reduce the appearance of scars with acupuncture.
Acupuncture can also be used to treat emotional imbalances such as anxiety, post-partum depression, or other mood disorders.
Many mothers who had acupuncture at times during or throughout their pregnancy report especially beautiful babies! This speaks not only to appearance (aren’t all babies beautiful?) but also to temperament- the baby’s disposition is often peaceful and happy!
1 Liang, Lifang, OMD, PhD, Lac. Acupuncture & IVF – Increase IVF Success By 40-60%. September 2003, Boulder CO.
2 Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial, April 2006; Westergaard LG, Mao Q, Krogslund M, Sandrini S, Lenz S, Grinsted J; Fertility and Sterility; May 2006 (Vol. 85, Issue 5, Pages 1341-1346)
3 Acupuncture: Review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002. www.who.int/medicines