Posts Categorized: Pregnancy

Can Acupuncture Really Induce Labor?

Over the years I’ve gotten many calls from frantic women (and sometimes their husbands) who are 40 or 41 weeks pregnant, some who are even scheduled for medical induction in a matter of hours. They all want to know- can Acupuncture help you go into labor in order to avoid induction? The answer is yes… and no. Read on, I’ll explain.

The ideal situation is when a woman comes for regular acupuncture (1-2 times a week) beginning at week 36. I call this “Labor Preparation Acupuncture”. I have a few goals with these sessions:

  1. To help with any pregnancy related discomforts such as low back or hip pain, insomnia or swelling.
  2. To use acupuncture points which get the woman mentally and emotionally relaxed and in a place where she feels ready and optimistic about giving birth.
  3. To stimulate acupoints which aid in relaxing and opening the pelvic region as well as influence cervical ripening (dilation and effacement).

In my experience, women who follow this schedule tend to go into labor more or less on time (and avoid needing a medical induction) and have shorter labors with fewer complications. Acupuncture treatments gently and gradually send your body a message to get ready for labor. Your body is doing this all on its own, but acupuncture helps it happen more seamlessly and helps you to feel more relaxed and ready when the time comes. And YES being mentally relaxed has a HUGE and very real effect on the progress of labor (see this book for more information).

But what about those women who were mere hours away from being induced- can acupuncture help them? I’ve certainly had many cases where I’ve been able to use acupuncture at the last minute to help women go into labor- it’s powerful stuff! However I’ve seen much greater success, by far, with 3-4 weeks of regular sessions leading up to the due date. Rome wasn’t built in a day my friends, and acupuncture is not the same thing as Pitocin. Thankfully!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage all women to get a birth doula as well as a postpartum doula. Read more about doulas and what they do here and here. And, the best way to avoid unnecessary interventions in labor (such as c-sections and episiotomies) or to achieve a VBAC is to choose your hospital based on its maternity procedure statistics. In New York State, they are found on the Department of Health’s website here.

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Having A Healthy 4th Trimester: Q&A with Amber Star Merkens, Postpartum Doula

Before I met Amber Star Merkens, I had no idea postpartum doulas existed. I immediately had a ton of questions for her because I became so excited about the idea that there are professionals available to help new moms out- this is seriously something everyone needs to know about! If you think doulas are only helping during labor, think again, and read on!

 

What is a doula?

The term doula literally means a woman’s helper. Read more

Prenatal Acupuncture: 3rd Trimester

Pregnant womanAcupuncture during the third trimester of pregnancy can safely be used to treat aches and pains, digestive discomforts and swelling, in addition to two things unique to the third trimester.

First, if a baby is breech or otherwise malpositioned for birth, acupuncture plus a special technique called moxa can be used to turn the baby so he or she is in a head-down position. This works by stimulating special points to increase the baby’s movement, increasing the chance that they will turn. If this is your first baby, the ideal time to try acupuncture is right around 34 weeks. If this is not your first, there is a little more room in the uterus to work with so we can attempt to turn the baby a little later- up to 38 weeks. For more details on this technique please click here to read my blog post devoted to turning breech babies. Read more

Prenatal Acupuncture: 2nd Trimester

Prenatal AcupunctureAt this point in pregnancy, most women feel they’ve cleared a hurdle and begin to feel like themselves again. Morning sickness can persist but generally becomes less intense, and energy level also improves. A few new issues may pop up during the second trimester that acupuncture can help a lot with. Migraines and headaches, common in pregnancy, respond beautifully to acupuncture treatment. Usually, once weekly sessions is enough to keep them completely at bay. Some women begin to experience nasal congestion as well. My favorite way to quickly get rid of this is to needle a point called “bitong”- there is one point on each side of the nose, where the edge of the nostril meets the face. It is reliable for draining congestion from the sinuses. Read more

Prenatal Acupuncture: 1st Trimester

Pregnant womanI’m excited to give you the first in a series of posts about how acupuncture can help women have an easier, healthier pregnancy. The series will be divided by trimester and which issues acupuncture can address in each.

The first trimester is a very exciting time but for some women can be the most difficult. Morning sickness, fatigue, a lowered immune system (resulting in more colds) and heartburn are common discomforts of early pregnancy. In addition, women who suffer from migraines or depression may be faced with the decision to stop medications. These are all situations where acupuncture can help. Read more