Posts Tagged: Acupuncture New York City

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What Nobody Talks About During Pregnancy: Your Postpartum Health

Prenatally, we tend to focus on mom and how she can optimize her health for her benefit and the benefit of the baby. However in the postpartum period, our culture seems to completely focus on baby and mom’s well-being is forgotten. This attitude is also reflected in postpartum medical care in the USA. Generally, the baby goes for their first pediatrician visit just a few days after birth, but mom’s first visit with her OB isn’t until a whopping 6 weeks after the delivery!

Thankfully, recently there has been more media attention to this problem (see this great guide in the New York Times). The American Academy of Pediatrics has even recommended that new moms be screened by their child’s pediatrician for postpartum anxiety and depression. In my and many others’ opinion, this is a positive step, but more support for new moms is needed. Until healthcare systems in the USA begin providing appropriate levels of support to new parents, you must develop a plan for your postpartum health during pregnancy. After the baby is born it will likely feel much too overwhelming.

Postpartum Changes

Many physical and emotional changes can bring uncertainty to the post-delivery recovery process. Physically, constipation, urinary incontinence, breastfeeding difficulties, incision pain and pelvic floor pain can be present. Emotionally, mood fluctuations can be quite normal, but often women need support in determining if their emotions are normal or are a cause for concern. The earlier postpartum mood issues are identified, the more effectively they can be treated. The bottom line is this: if you aren’t sure if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal, seek help from a therapist, midwife or your OB and they can tell you. Ask for as much help as you need.

Below are some categories of experts I recommend familiarizing yourself with. Find a local practitioner, reach out to them in the third trimester (or earlier!), and keep their contact information handy in case it’s needed. You shouldn’t be expected to do it all on your own and many times even with lots of support from friends and family, an expert’s experience and care can make a huge difference.

Resources:

Mental/Emotional Health:

I recommend finding a therapist who specializes in treating postpartum mood disorders. It’s best to establish a relationship with a therapist before giving birth so that you are not overwhelmed with the task of finding someone while you are taking care of your new baby. Have one session with them during your pregnancy so they are familiar with your history, and you can make sure you feel comfortable with their approach.  Keep in mind, new dads/partners often experience anxiety and mood issues after the birth as well- it may be helpful for them to follow the same approach.

See The Seleni Institute, The Motherhood Center and Postpartum International for articles and information.

Pelvic Floor Experts:

In Europe and many other places, pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation is standard care for new moms, whether they delivered vaginally or via c-section. It can help with urinary and bowel problems as well as abdominal muscle separation called diastasis recti.

In NYC, I like Beyond Basics PT, Shift Integrative Health and The Functional Pelvis. Even if you aren’t in NYC, check out their websites for lots of informative articles. I also recommend reading Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein, MPT.

Lactation:

If you choose to breastfeed, know that most moms do have issues at some point! It’s a very good idea to have a lactation counselor available for questions- both for initiating breastfeeding and how to stop once it’s time.

See La Leche League to find a local support group, and here in NYC I recommend Boober, Leigh Ann O’Connor and The New York Doula services.

Newborn Care Specialists:

Commonly known as baby nurses, these are experts who provide in-home care focused on the baby, so you are able to get more rest.

The New York Doula and British American Household Staffing both are highly recommended.

Postpartum Doulas:

As compared to a Newborn Care Specialist, who focuses on taking care of the baby, a postpartum doula focuses on taking care of you. Many are also lactation consultants so can help you with breastfeeding, but also will help with preparing healthy meals and whatever else will make you feel nourished and taken care of.

I recommend The New York Doula, Baby Caravan Doulas, Kin Doulas, and Amber Star Merkens.

Books:

The First Forty Days– an excellent collection of recipes and tips for preparing for the period immediately after childbirth, this is also a guide on good self-care practices throughout pregnancy.

 

 

 

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Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Turning Breech Babies: An Update

My Approach As a Practitioner…

In my practice I’ve had really good success with turning breech babies using moxibustion in combination with acupuncture. It’s something that I see very regularly and I’m always happy that women and their health care providers are becoming more aware that moxa can help, and recognize the importance of using any intervention possible to try and turn the breech baby and increase chances of a vaginal birth. When a woman comes to me with this issue, on the first visit I perform an acupuncture session to try and facilitate movement and space in the hips and pelvis as well as address any other issues such as anxiety, insomnia, back pain or digestive issues in pregnancy. After the acupuncture comes moxibustion. I teach the patient in great detail how to perform this technique and send her home with written instructions and the moxa sticks. 4-5 days later, she returns for another acupuncture session to try and help the process.

This is something that’s great to try before your doctor attempts an ECV Read more

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Is Acupuncture Safe During The First Trimester? Here’s The Evidence…

Many women who are newly pregnant ask me whether acupuncture is safe during pregnancy- specifically during the first trimester. They really want to try or continue acupuncture for a variety of reasons, but are quite mindful of avoiding anything that could put the pregnancy at risk.  I can say it is safe without hesitation, not only from my nearly 10 years in practice but from all the years of experience of my teachers and mentors. However I completely understand that women, their doctors and midwives want more than just anecdotal evidence. So without further ado- here are the studies which I feel should put your mind at ease. Read more

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Acupuncture For Sciatica And Low Back Pain in Pregnancy

In my practice, I see a lot of women who are experiencing either sciatica or lower back pain in pregnancy. It’s a very common condition, and it’s actually one of my favorite things to treat using acupuncture because it works so well! Acupuncture can help you to take the focus off of being in pain, and instead enjoy the last few months of pregnancy while gathering your strength for the birth.

Sciatica refers to pain which is usually in the glute and to some extent radiating down the back of the leg. Read more

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). I also focus on getting the baby into the optimal position, if not already there.

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 utilize 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? Choose your hospital based on its maternity procedure statistics. In New York State, they are found on the Department of Health’s website here.