This guest blog was contributed by Andrea Hingst, L.Ac. Dipl.O.M.
The use of acupuncture to help overcome infertility is becoming more and more widely known, including the use of acupuncture during IVF. But a lot of women and their partners have questions about the safety and usefulness of treatments during pregnancy and after delivery.
Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
Yes. Licensed acupuncturists are trained to know which acupuncture points are helpful during pregnancy and which points should be avoided. There are 6 bilateral points on the hands and shoulders, and around the lower leg, ankle, and low back that are contraindicated during most of pregnancy. It’s important to let your acupuncturist know if you are pregnant, or if you think you might be, so that these points are avoided.
What conditions can acupuncture help with during pregnancy?
In addition to general health maintenance and acupuncture can help with several conditions which are common among pregnant women. These include morning sickness, back pain, ligament pain, leg swelling, premature cervical ripening, preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension), fatigue, heartburn, constipation, gestational diabetes and breech baby presentation. If you are experiencing any of these or other pregnancy side effects, let your acupuncturist know so that your treatments can be tailored accordingly. Acupuncture is also highly beneficial to support pregnancy of a woman with previous miscarriage.
When should I start and how often should I go?
If you are already pregnant, it’s a good idea to see an acupuncturist as soon as possible to help temper morning sickness and other common first-trimester symptoms. In a healthy pregnancy, you may only need acupuncture every week through the first trimester, then once a month as a tune up after. Your acupuncturist can recommend a treatment plan based on your health history and symptoms.
If you have experienced pregnancy loss in the past, more frequent treatments may be recommended, especially during the first trimester. This is so that you get the sustained support required to keep your body healthy and strong over the course of your pregnancy. Toward the end of any pregnancy, at about week 37, your acupuncturist may suggest coming in more often to help prepare you for labor.
Can acupuncture help induce labor?
Acupuncturists do not directly induce labor—that’s a Western Medical treatment. But when it’s almost time for your baby to make his or her appearance in the world, acupuncture can help prepare you for labor and delivery. Stress is one of the biggest factors that women battle during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Acupuncture can help significantly with reducing stress and anxiety in these moments.
Often, women who are trying to avoid a medical induction will call an acupuncturist at the last minute. This is not recommended. It is much easier to prepare your body a few weeks prior to your due date for labor when you’re not working against the ticking clock of your medical-induction appointment.
Should I keep getting acupuncture after I deliver?
Absolutely. Acupuncture as post-partum care for new moms is really important. The birth process is incredibly depleting to a woman’s body and her energy and blood needs to be replenished afterward. Fatigue, depression, poor milk production, mastitis, constipation, pain and sexual difficulties are common symptoms after delivery.
Regular acupuncture is great for helping moms recover and regain their strength after giving birth. You’ll need it as you embark on the exciting adventure of motherhood!
Cherlyn Coplon is a Licensed Acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Comprehensive Biology, a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and she completed her Post-graduate Chinese Medicine residency at Shaanxi University Hospital, Xi'An, China.
Call 847-301-7305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or schedule your appointment!