Acupuncture and Pregnancy
How acupuncture can help you during your pregnancy and postpartum period ?
During pregnancy and the post partum period, the body and mind can be put to a severe test.
Morning sickness, back pain, bloating, stomach upsets, fatigue, stress… discomforts that can quickly become unbearable.
Acupuncture, a branch of Chinese medicine dating back thousands of years, has proven its worth in relieving the many discomforts of pregnant women, but also in helping them to prepare calmly for childbirth and regain their strength afterwards.
It can also help in the case of a miscarriage.
1) Acupuncture treats the discomforts of pregnancy
Acupuncture can significantly reduce digestive discomforts that may occur throughout your pregnancy such as nausea, heartburn or constipation. These symptoms occur as a result of hormonal changes. According to Chinese medicine, these changes cause energy imbalances that lead to these discomforts.
On the other hand, it can help you in cases of great fatigue, insomnia, anxiety or even in the case of a depressive state. Developing life is not easy! Indeed, the fact of “feeding” the foetus can cause voids, particularly on the Kidney meridians. The diagnosis carried out during the session allows these voids to be identified and acupuncture acts on the subtle rebalancing of the body for a renewal of energy.
Furthermore, when your belly becomes round and heavy, it is very common to start suffering from back pain, pelvic pain, rib pain or sciatica. These are all symptoms of a disturbance in the flow of qi (energy) and blood in the meridians or an energy imbalance in the internal organs.
By stimulating the acupuncture points, the circulation is re-established and the pain is reduced or even eliminated. In addition to your acupuncture treatment, it is of course important that you maintain a lifestyle that does not exhaust you. If you suffer from digestive problems, limit heavy meals, spicy, rich, fatty or fried foods, canned meats, chocolate, alcohol and soft drinks. Consult your gynaecologist regularly and ask all your questions (there are no wrong questions).
2) Preparing for childbirth in the 34th week of pregnancy with acupuncture
As you approach term, the thought of childbirth can be a source of real anxiety for many women. Acupuncture can help you prepare your body and your baby’s body.
2.1- The position of the baby from the 34th week
With regard to the baby’s position, the stimulation of acupuncture points increases the baby’s ability to move and to turn over into the most favourable position for birth and to stay there.
In an Italian study  of 260 primiparous women with a breech presentation at 33 weeks of pregnancy, 130 were treated with Chinese medicine for a period of 7 days, and 130 were in the control group. In the former group 75.4% of the babies turned over, compared to 47.7% in the control group.
Other studies  have shown that the best time to turn the baby into a breech position is at 34 weeks, before the baby is too big. So don’t wait until 38 weeks to come for acupuncture. Maximise your chances.
2.2- Preparation for childbirth from the 37th week
From the 37th week of pregnancy, it is possible for the patient to undergo prenatal acupuncture treatment once a week to prepare for the birth. The aim of prenatal acupuncture is to increase the efficiency of labour by reducing its duration, but also to reduce the risk of medical interventions and caesarean sections during delivery.
One study showed that the average length of labour for first time mothers was 8 hours and 2 minutes for the 70 women in the control group compared to 6 hours and 36 minutes for those (70 women) who received antenatal acupuncture.
Some acupuncture points have the effect of relaxing the cervix and pelvis, while others can help induce labour. Most women notice an increase in uterine contractions after 1 to 2 prenatal acupuncture sessions. It is for these reasons that this work is only done from the 37th week of pregnancy.
3) Rest and acupuncture to regain strength in the postpartum period
In many Asian countries, the month of rest following childbirth is considered extremely important to help mothers through the physiological and psychological transitions.
Indeed, the 30-day period (some texts speak of 100 days ) following childbirth requires toning of the body to replenish the blood and energy lost during pregnancy and childbirth.
Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs, as well as an appropriate diet, allows the new mother to quickly regain her energy level, while avoiding inconveniences such as post-partum depression, often called “baby-blues”.
In addition, Chinese medicine can help solve other problems that may arise in the period following childbirth, such as persistent uterine bleeding, uterine cramps or insufficient lactation.
In addition to the acupuncture treatment, it is imperative that the mother has sufficient rest time, as well as proper diet and exercise. Keep in mind that the mother has to recover from childbirth and a nine-month pregnancy, which takes time.
4) What about acupuncture for miscarriage?
When there are signs of a potential miscarriage (bleeding, back pain and abdominal cramps), it is essential to restrict your physical and mental efforts and avoid sexual relations to reduce the risks.
In acupuncture we often speak of an energy vacuum, mainly in the Kidney and Spleen organs. It is important to act quickly and tonify these meridians before the cervix starts to dilate.
When miscarriage is inevitable or arrested, acupuncture treatment aims to strengthen the body’s ability to evacuate the foetus and to help the woman physically and emotionally to overcome this ordeal.
In the event of a miscarriage, Chinese medicine can help the woman recover more quickly by combining acupuncture sessions with tonic herbs.
It is imperative to consult your gynaecologist, who will be able to determine if there is a real miscarriage with the help of medical imaging.
At the Clinique Naturelle, we offer acupuncture to accompany women during the stages of their pregnancies and the post-partum period. Eric Zhao is an ASCA and RME certified therapist. He studied in China and worked in hospitals during his training.
 Cardini F, Weixin H(1998). ” Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation “, Journal of theAmerican Medical Association, 280 :1580-1584.
 Kubista E, Kucera H (1974). “Uber die Anwendung der Akupunktur zur Geburtsvorbereitung “, Geburtshilfe Perinatol : 178, 224-9.
 Groupe de recherche coopérative sur la version de la moxibustion (1984). ” Observation clinique sur les effets de la version par moxibustion “.Résumés du Second National Symposium on Acupuncture and Moxibustion and Acupuncture Anaesthesia, All-China Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Beijing, p.150 et Cardini F, Weixin H(1998). ” Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation “, Journal of the American Medical Association, 280:1580-1584.
 Auteroche B et Navailh R (1986). Acupuncture en Gynécologie et Obstétrique. Maloine, Paris : chapitre 11.