Prenatal Acupuncture for Mom and Baby
In general, acupuncture is safer than Tylenol (serious adverse affects <.01%), and can be a great addition to medical care during pregnancy. Here are 7 specific ways prenatal acupuncture can relieve pregnancy-related pain and discomfort.
1. Morning Sickness
A common side effect of pregnancy is morning sickness, resulting in nausea and vomiting. While this condition typically only lasts for the first few months of pregnancy, severe cases can result in Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). HG can cause malnourishment to both the mother and child, and is typically treated with anti-nausea medication.
Luckily, HG is rare, only affecting .3 – 2% of pregnant women.
Most women will experience mild nausea and vomiting during the beginning of their pregnancy, and adding prenatal acupuncture to their care can calm the stomach and redirect the flow of stomach acid and energy.
Besides acupuncture, avoid morning sickness by avoiding food right before bed, heavy meats and acidic foods (tomatoes, peppers, excessive coffee/black tea, etc.). Ginger is also a highly effective anti-nausea treatment.
DIY Anti-Nausea Tea:
- Peel and cut 2-3 slices of fresh ginger
- Slice 2-3 slices of orange peel
- Bring 2 cups of water to boil
- Add ginger and orange to boiling water, steep for 15-20 minutes
- Sip tea throughout the day to calm the stomach
2. Pain (low back pain, Sciatica, headaches, etc.)
As the pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, a woman’s belly expands, which can weaken the back in both a physical and energetic way. Luckily, prenatal acupuncture can help by:
- Relaxing and strengthening the back muscles
- Alleviating tension and inflammation in the back, allowing the body to move throughout the pregnancy (e.g. hips opening and expanding)
- Relieving pain
In addition to acupuncture, prenatal massages are also a great way to ease back pain and inflammation. Regular massages can also help enhance proper posture and alignment, calm the nervous system and alleviate stress on joints.
3. Stress and Anxiety
Pregnancy affects the mind as well as the body, and should be nourished accordingly. Luckily, prenatal acupuncture can alleviate stress and anxiety, while also promoting high quality sleep.
In Chinese medicine, there is a direct correlation between a healthy mind and body. Disharmony between internal organs can lead to a restless mind and disturbed sleep. To foster a more harmonious mind and body, try these foods to calm the spirit and strengthen the heart:
- Apples (heart-strengthening)
- Beets (mind-calming and blood-nourishing)
- Wheat bran (spirit-calming and digestion-fueling)
- Carob (mind-calming)
For a treat, try this recipe for Apple Wheat Bran Muffins!
Difficulty sleeping can range from trouble falling asleep, waking during the night, restless sleep, waking up early and/or excessive dreaming. Any of these situations can cause sleep deprivation, which is not healthy for the mother or baby.
Regular prenatal acupuncture is great for calming the mind and also encouraging restful sleep so that mom can get some much-needed rest and baby can continue to grow!
In addition to acupuncture, try some mulberry tea before bed to calm your body and spirit, nourish your blood and naturally relieve digestive issues.
5. Balancing Fluid Accumulation (e.g. swelling of ankles and feet)
As fluids increase during pregnancy, it can pool in the lower legs, ankles and/or feet, causing pain and discomfort. (This condition is known as edema.) Luckily, acupuncture is great for redirecting the fluid accumulation throughout the body.
Food can also help reduce the effects of edema. Here are some great nutritious foods to add to your diet:
- Oats (to relieve swelling and calm the stomach)
- Aduki red beans (to balance digestive tract and relieve swelling)
- Mango (to regenerate body fluids and strengthen stomach)
- A juice blend of carrot, celery, apple, ginger and green onion (to nourish, calm the stomach and decrease swelling)
6. Sinus Congestion
Sinus congestion is very common during pregnancy. This is because blood increases by about 50% in volume and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can lead to increased inflammation in the sinuses and nasal passages, causing congestion. Fortunately, prenatal acupuncture decreases this inflammation and can help drain the sinuses.
For further relief, green onions can help relieve nasal congestion. Try adding some sliced green onion (both the white and green parts) to soup or broth for extra comfort.
7. Labor Preparation
Pregnancy is hard work, which is why we aim to create optimal labor conditions for the soon-to-be mom! Prenatal acupuncture is so effective because it can help the body prepare for labor in the following ways:
- Helps sinews relax, soften and stop resisting gravitational pull during cervical ripening
- Balances a woman’s body to better meet the challenge of labor
- Relaxes mind
- Decreases stress hormones (which can slow down labor initiation)
Whether you’re a new mom or a pregnancy professional, prenatal acupuncture can help make this beautiful (albeit, challenging) process easier and more comfortable. If you’re in the Denver area, call us at (303) 573-7484 to set up an appointment!
The information provided is how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help support you during pregnancy, in addition to your OBGYN/medical care. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult with your doctor.