Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for pregnant women. At Light & Joy, we specialize in caring for you during this special time. We often get questions about how it can help and how often patients should be treated throughout pregnancy. Our basic protocol for pregnant patients is as follows:
Weekly treatments are invaluable to support the pregnancy during the early weeks if there is a history of miscarriage and/or infertility.
For patients undergoing various western infertility treatments such as IVF or IUI, acupuncture can help to moderate the side effects of synthetic hormones the patients are taking and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
For more typical pregnancies, treatment is recommended on an as needed basis for the variety of things that can come up and cause discomfort during the first trimester. Women are often more anxious during the first trimester as they wait to get confirmation that the pregnancy is viable and the baby is healthy. Acupuncture relieves stress and anxiety and also helps with fatigue, headaches, and changes in mood as our bodies adjust to everything going on within. Chinese medicine is beneficial for managing nausea and hormone fluctuations as well.
Exercise tips: It is very important to stay active during your pregnancy. We recommend getting some form of exercise 3-5 times per week. For the first trimester, exercise can be very difficult if you are not feeling well. If nothing else, do your best to take walks. You can take shorter walks 2-3 times a day if a longer walk doesn’t seem feasible.
If you are feeling good and want to be more active, just make sure you aren’t overdoing it. A good rule of thumb is to not start any new kind of exercise that your body isn’t accustomed to doing. Stick to the basics and don’t overdo it. The hormone relaxin is pumping through your body helping to prepare your body to carry a baby and birth it, so be careful not to overstretch as the relaxin makes your joints and muscles more mobile than normal. Ask your health care practitioner if you are unsure about what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
In the second trimester, pregnancy symptoms have usually subsided. This is a time to take care of yourself and allow your baby and body to do their thing. We recommend treatments only as needed for things that may come up such as aches and pains, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and dermatological changes.
During week 34 or 35 the baby is checked for position. If you find out that your baby is breech, we highly recommend coming in for treatment as soon as possible as this gives us the best chance of helping to turn your baby to a head-down presentation with our breech protocol. For breech presentation, we work in tandem with the chiropractors of In Health Clinic to achieve the best results.
Exercise tips: In the second trimester, most women are starting to feel much better, have their energy back and can eat normally. Take advantage of the energy spurt and consider upping your exercise frequency or intensity. Yoga and swimming are great choices for pregnancy because they are very strengthening but gentle on the joints.
During these final weeks, we recommend weekly treatments to prepare your body for birth. Again we focus on relaxing and opening up the hips and sacral area, creating space for the baby to move down into the birth canal. Depending on your doctor’s instruction, we tailor the treatments to fit your birthing schedule and will often move into labor induction treatments just before or at 40 weeks. Induction treatments are usually performed every other day leading up to the birth. If there is a set medical induction date due to high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, for example, treatment will be performed daily.
Exercise tips: Kegels are always a good idea throughout pregnancy to help strengthen your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. This can help to prevent prolapse, incontinence, and more. As you get bigger and maneuvering becomes more difficult, you may need to scale down your exercise program. Consider taking more walks, as walking is good for birth prep as well.
Iris Martin LAc.
Light & Joy Acupuncture Inc.