Acupuncture is one of the many more holistic treatments a lot of women find themselves considering in their pregnancy, but they haven’t had it prior to becoming pregnant so don’t really know where to start.
I sat down this week and had a chat with Karen of Karen Acupuncture one of our amazing contributors for Ten Moons Pregnancy Day retreat to delve a bit deeper into how you can use acupuncture and acupressure safely in pregnancy and birth
Hey Karen, thanks for having a little chat with me this week!
Can you tell us a little more about some of the more common things that ladies come to see you for in pregnancy and how you help them?
Acupuncture is a wonderful therapy during pregnancy as it very safe and gentle and has no side effects. In the early stages of pregnancy, it is helpful in reducing morning sickness and improving energy levels. As pregnancy progresses women tend to experience aches and pains as their bodies change to accommodate their baby. I tend to see a lot of sciatica, low back aches and pelvic girdle pain. In the third trimester, I might see women to help with indigestion and reflux, fluid retention or low energy levels. Sleeping might be disturbed by an active baby!
We can begin preparation for birth from around 36 weeks. This treatment helps to prepare a woman’s body for birth with a focus on preparing the cervix and pelvis for labour. They are very relaxing and can be helpful in working through any strong emotions that come up around this time. Once we reach the due date I will start incorporating points which encourage blood flow to the pelvic area as well as empirical acupuncture points which help reinforce the physiological mechanisms of labour.
Wow, it can help with a lot then. I know acupuncture really helped me with back pain and also just to feel mentally balanced while I was working a crazy ass job in fashion. At first, I was a bit nervous when I had a treatment but after a while, it was so relaxing!
Yes a lot of people are quite apprehensive before their first treatment but as soon as they realise acupuncture doesn’t hurt they ease into it. Communication is vital during the treatment. I always explain everything I am doing and I ask for feedback from my clients. This enables me to refine my treatment approach to best fit each client.
When is a good time to start seeing your acupuncturist?
If you are totally healthy and sailing through pregnancy then there is no need for acupuncture until 36/37 weeks when we start the birth preparation. If pregnancy isn’t so smooth you can see an acupuncturist at any stage of pregnancy. I would always recommend finding a trusted practitioner who regularly works with pregnant clients.
The Chinese approach to pregnancy and being a new mother certainly differs from the culture we have over here, are there any other things that you do to support ladies on their journey to motherhood?
I use moxibustion (a dried and compressed stick of the herb mugwort, usually called a moxa stick) to help turn breech babies. There is no guarantees but it can be a pretty powerful treatment.
Moxibustion is also a key element of post-partum self-care, from 4 or 5 days after birth a new mother can use the moxa stick to warm acupuncture points on her lower abdomen. This is called Motherwarming and this daily treatment replenishes qi (thereby improving energy), nourishes blood and warms the uterus which helps ensure a healthy womb for future menstruation and pregnancies. I teach my clients how to use the moxa stick before they give birth.
It’s all so fascinating! Especially the postnatal element I’ve certainly got some more things to share with my hypnobirthing clients there. let’s talk about the birth itself then. What tips and wisdom have
you got to share with expectant mamas that want to learn some coping
strategies for birth.
The best advice would be to use your birth partner! They can help ease pain during contractions by using specific acupressure points on your body. This is a very good video explaining the use and location of some common acupressure points
Evidence-based birth made a fab video earlier this year which discusses recent research about acupuncture and acupressure for reducing pain during labour.
I would always suggest waiting until your baby is born to share the news. Getting a million texts and calls during labour won’t be something you or your partner will appreciate!
The most important thing is to let mamas know, is that they can do this! It doesn’t matter how or where you give birth. The most important thing will that moment when you meet your baby and that’s when the real adventure begins!
That all sounds amazing, Thanks so much for your time!
Karen is holding an acupressure for birth workshop at part of the Ten Moons Pregnancy retreat in September. She holds regular clinics in Leyton, Islington and Belsize Park.